Raincoats and Reason

Today, I had to go to work to have an IEP meeting. Perhaps it is true that teachers have the summer off in some other universe. But today, I finished up one difficult case, and ran into the social worker and got myself something else to do with another kid.

So we were all getting dressed and ready for work and school, and Laurel insisted on wearing a scarf and a raincoat. It's 70 degrees outside at 8:00am and not a cloud in the sky. I must admit to being a bit of a scarf junkie. I have many and they are my favorite accessory. Like mother, like daughter, I guess. So just picture a tiny toddler with an old-fashioned silk scar tied fashionably around her neck and a green rain coat zipped up all the way, with hood up. We were able to convince her, before we left daycare to remove some of the accessories. I actually made her take off the scarf as soon as she got in the carseat, thinking of the Near Death Balloon String Fiasco of last weekend.

I see a lot of five year old girls wearing tutus to the grocery store, so I know I'm not the only one to have a difference in opinion with their child about appropriate clothing. My question is not so much about whether or not you let them out of the house like that (because let's face it, kids are just really dang good at winning arguments like that through sheer volume and endurance, thus all the tutus in non-dance class settings.)

Instead, I'm thinking about how we discuss appearance in a broader sense. How about when she wants to get this or that pierced or tattooed or her hair dyed blue or wear really short skirts and tattered fishnet stockings. How is that different from saying "It's 15 degrees outside, you need to wear a hat."

I think the topic of appearance has the possibility to really drive a wedge between parents and children, to the point where they are no longer following their own style, but just trying to do something irritate you. I don't like that, and don't want to parent that way.

How will we define "pretty" around here? Does it have to meet society's standards? Or does pretty just mean, I feel so good I could dance! How will we define "acceptable"? How will we help her to get through the hard lessons of judgment by others when you don't have the right jeans or sneakers? Will she even care about that?

For now, she's one, and one year olds are granted incredible leeway by society. Most anything odd she does is interpreted as cute. So she can wear a rain coat in the sun and growl like a lion when she's happy. For now.

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