Wardrobe wars

Maryland Independent - - Classified - Twit­ter: @right­meg

Oliver was a lit­tle older than Hadley is now when he be­gan choos­ing his own cloth­ing.

Gone are the days when I could pull an adorable pat­terned T-shirt over his head with­out a fuss. Now ev­ery­thing must be em­bla­zoned with a con­struc­tion ve­hi­cle, mon­ster truck or Chase from “PAW Pa­trol,” and good luck rush­ing the kid into mak­ing a daily de­ci­sion.

I try to let my son make his own fash­ion choices — but if left to his own de­vices, he would wear the same John Deere trac­tor shirt ev­ery day for­ever and ever (or un­til it dis­in­te­grated, any­way). I’ve had to ex­plain the con­cepts of “clean” and “dirty” to make Oliver un­der­stand he can’t go to school in the same green shirt Mon­day to Fri­day.

Still, we have the same con­ver­sa­tion ev­ery morn­ing. It goes a lit­tle some­thing like this:

“Ol­lie, want to pick out your shirt for to­day?” “Nope. Not to­day.” “We need to get dressed, bud.” I’ll pull a bin out for his in­spec­tion. “Let’s see . . . ro­bots, ‘PAW Pa­trol’ or astro­nauts?”

“John Deere,” he’ll im­me­di­ately re­tort. “Mommy, I wear John Deere to­day.”

Af­ter ex­plain­ing that we need to do laun­dry and it will be clean again soon, but it isn’t now, Ol­lie heaves a world-weary sigh that in­di­cates he’s been through all this be­fore. (Prob­a­bly be­cause he has . . . yes­ter­day.)

“John Deere is dirty,” Ol­lie says. “That makes me sad.”

Emo­tions! He’s ex­plain­ing an emo­tion! And that makes me happy for about four sec­onds, at which point he is typ­i­cally pout­ing or boy­cotting or rum­mag­ing through the clothes bin with reck­less aban­don, search­ing for the one shirt he knows per­fectly well is in the laun­dry bin by his bed.

Even­tu­ally he gives up, know­ing there is no win­ning this one. But not be­fore he looks me right in the eye and says, “Mommy, John Deere will be clean next time. You will wash it?”

Yes, I agree — on Satur­day. He re­peats the word. Good to set the ex­pec­ta­tion.

His lit­tle sis­ter is at my side through all of this, get­ting ready for her own wardrobe change. I didn’t re­al­ize my chil­dren would grow opin­ion­ated so quickly, but even lit­tle Hadley cer­tainly has her ways of mak­ing pref­er­ences known. If her pants seem too long, she be­gins tug­ging at the bot­toms in an­noy­ance. If the sleeves ap­par­ently feel strange, she shrugs un­til they’re in place. I made the mis­take of putting a long-sleeved shirt on her last week, and she picked at the sleeves and fussed un­til I rolled them up.

No other fash­ion re­quire­ments yet — but I’m sure it’s com­ing. Hadley has al­ready taken an in­ter­est in footwear. My girl was bare­foot for her first year of life, but I’ve re­cently had to ac­cept that socks and shoes are con­sid­ered nor­mal at­tire for chil­dren (and adults, I sup­pose).

Once she started walk­ing, we brought home her first pair of sneak­ers. She was ini­tially baf­fled, which I get, but the an­noy­ance turned to cu­rios­ity. We’ve come a long way since the sum­mer. Now Hadley not only likes her shoes, but con­stantly tries to put them on — even be­fore bed­time. “Shoes! Shoes!” is a con­stant re­frain at our house, and it’s not un­usual to find her try­ing to jam her sparkly pink sneaks over her toes be­fore she heads for the door, call­ing, “Bye!”

They don’t have to be “her” shoes, ei­ther. Hadley is known to grab Oliver’s and take off run­ning (er, tod­dling) just to taunt him. I’m not proud of it, but I have dis­cov­ered a great way to shorten the morn­ing rou­tine of get­ting both kids out the door: ca­su­ally men­tion to Ol­lie that his sis­ter is try­ing to put on his shoes.

She’s touch­ing some­thing? Some­thing of his? Um, no.

Bam! Socks are on. Shoes are on. Magic. And Mama’s ac­tu­ally not late for work.

I look for­ward to see­ing how the kids’ de­vel­op­ing per­son­al­i­ties will trans­late in their cloth­ing over time. I pic­ture Hadley as a very prac­ti­cal, salt-of-the earth young lady, while Ol­lie will prob­a­bly wear mon­ster trucks and only mon­ster trucks un­til mid­dle school.

I could be wrong, cer­tainly. But I hope I will be open-minded enough to let them dress how they like with­out too many re­quire­ments.

Aside from, you know, clean. Free of holes. The ba­sics.

Best to make those ex­pec­ta­tions clear.

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