Tuesday, December 18, 2007
If the dress fits (it wasn't bought by your mom)
This morning after breakfast I presented you with a timely gift: A flouncy dress and matching tights. Timely because laundry doesn't get a second thought, let alone a chance to suds up, when the preceding weekend is filled with parties and other holiday merriment.
I was holding my breath as you delecately held the "gift" bag, a reused handled brown bag from Starbucks, and asked if it was really for you to open.
You didn't remember that you'd picked it out last fall by tearing it from the Hanna Andersson catalogue and presenting it to me as a dress you most definitely WOULD wear. But that didn't matter. The dress was so YOU.
There have been a lot of missteps on my part in that department, I’m afraid. I continued to buy purple things with turtlenecks and loud prints long after your tastes had turned to scoop necks and soft pinks with pockets. I picked large flowers over your preferred small ones. I picked dogs over cats and green over blue, blue over green, green over orange and orange over yellow. I've even tried buying the thing that I least liked, thinking I'd win by accident.
Turns out I always lose.
You have extremely particular taste in clothes. So particular, in fact, that it's hard for even the initiated to make successful purchases on your behalf. You like pants that are made of soft, jersey material. You like them best if they have pockets. You like T-shirts of soft cotton, but the design could be a deal-breaker on any given day. "No stripes on the fourth Monday of August, but no solids if it snows," is pretty much how I’ve come to understand the selection process. You won’t wear wool or pullover sweaters. You’re not a fan of jeans.
A year ago I used to pull my hair out trying to discern your preferences. I'd hunt and peck through your drawers for things I'd know you’d wear, and then wash them the second you swapped them for pajamas. Then I started buying the favorites in multiples of four so I'd have a few days leeway.
Lately, however, this tack hasn’t worked. It’s not the familiar you’ve been seeking. You are branching out.
"Mother," you'll tell me (because you've decided you like the way MOTHER sounds) "I don't want to wear what I don't want to wear, but I want you to pick out something for me that I don't want to wear. And I'll know it when I see it. Okay?"
You see my dilemma?
A year ago, I would also have gladly given up a week's wages to get you to wear some kind of matching bit of designer fashion so I could pretend I was a skilled and talented shopper. So I could see myself as a hip mom whose child looks clean and impeccably clad at all times.
Instead you insisted on wearing stripes with dots of non-matching hues to your first day of school. You wore purple snow boots with a swimsuit and pajama bottoms to the museum. You wore a purple tutu with a red, three-button Henley t-shirt to the ballet. And each time you insisted, I became that much less worried about how others perceived me. After all, it wasn’t about me, now, was it?
So today, when you opened your dress (two sizes to large, thanks to my skin-flintyness and inability to translate European sizes) and tried it on, it didn't really surprise me that you were skeptical.
"Mother, I think it's too big."
"Well it's a little big, that's true, but it just has more room to grow and more room to flutter when you twirl."
"Ok ... but are you sure I'm four?"
"You are four today, Ittybit. I can hardly believe it myself."