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.