Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Weeks ago I went on a rare solo shopping trip for fall clothes for the kids. I sold a lot of their outgrown stuff at a consignment store and was able to get tons of "new" stuff for them for about $60. I had saved so much that I thought it was kind of my duty to go shopping at Nordstrom's and buy some more stuff. Are you with me?

I found the sweetest little Tea dress that Emma and I had seen a few weeks earlier in the Tea catalog. At the time, we had both agreed that it would be a good pick for school. I found another dress that looked perfect for Emma. It was teal corduroy with little patchwork flowers on the front and adorable pockets with pleats and buttons. This was a dress designed for the first day of school. I couldn't wait to see her wear it. When I brought the new stuff home, she was really excited. She wanted to wear the corduroy dress right away, but I told her she had to wait until the first day of school. Oh, I could barely wait myself!

Finally, the first day of school eve arrived and we were getting around to the business of laying out clothes. Emma wanted to wear the green shirt that she had been wearing all summer long. I liked that shirt when we bought it, but like most things from Target, it was beginning to lose its charm after about the 100th washing. It needed to be put out of its misery. It didn't need to be paraded out on the first day of school like some kind of showpiece. Am I making too big a deal out of this. Probably!

So, then I turned into kind of a crazy person. I freaked out a little on poor Emma. She proudly showed me her outfit. And I, taking a page from the Kate Gosslyn school of mothering, was like, "You are not wearing that shirt. You are wearing the corduroy dress or the Tea dress or the plaid dress with the ruffle on the front. Those are first day of school dresses. EVERYONE WEARS A DRESS ON THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL!" I shouted in a really insane way.

We went round and round, fighting over what was "fashion" and what wasn't. As we were arguing, I kept having sudden bursts of clarity and thinking: am I really arguing with my daughter about what she wants to wear? Who was I turning into? There was part of me that could see how ridiculous it was that I cared so much, and then there was part of me that was so upset that she was being so stubborn. She loved the dress when I had brought it home. It was like she just wanted to make me crazy by not wearing it. Or maybe she was just in the mood to wear something comfy and familiar on her first day at a new school?

Then she decided a good compromise would be to wear a new white t-shirt (the one I had bought to wear under the corduroy dress) with her jeans and sketchers. Apparently she wanted to look like Pony Boy from The Outsiders on her first day of school.

Thankfully, Brandon intervened, and over a nice toothbrushing, convinced Emma that most girls do wear dresses on the first day of school and that it might be nice to humor her crazy mother just this once. She came back to her room, where I was painstakingly lacing her Sketchers, and told me that she had changed her mind. She wanted to wear the corduroy dress.

So, score one for Mommy. It was a hollow victory, though. She seemed really happy to be wearing the dress today, but how much of a toll did it take on her spunky, stubborn little spirit and on my relationship with her? She's wearing the green Target shirt and jeans tomorrow. She will look fabulous. She will look like herself.


carolebrad said...


Your blog was truly thought provoking. I dare say there's hardly a mother who has not had this type of stand-off with her child. I dare say that Emma will not forget the fact that you decided to let her make the choice for herself...Doin' goood! caroleb

Anonymous said...

I loved the drama as it hit so close to home. I can't tell you how many crazy mom moments I've had with the exact thought of "am I really arguing with my X yr old daughter about this or trying to teach her a lesson?". I also agree that while I love almost everything from Target most of it wears out after so many uses. PS I missed your blog writing! Glad you're back on line. : )

Grace said...

If only I could wear a adorable dress to school! :)

mdm said...

And Brandon would know what most girls wear on the first day of school how? But, I am impressed with his arbitration-type skills, with your writing and with Emma's willingness to go along. (I'm betting Brandon didn't actually use the words "crazy mother", though.

Anonymous said...

You are a wonderful Mommy, and she won't be harmed for life, nor will your relationship. The biggest fights I remember with the BOYS at my house were over clothes...either between them and me or between two brothers after one had stolen what the other one was going to wear that day! Thank goodness they are very forgiving once they are grown!!!

Pamela Ehrenberg said...

Love the new blog look (definitely high fashion!). And I love this post. I'm not sure what Talia will be wearing on her first day of school Monday--but it wouldn't shock me if it's the hand-me-down striped shirt from Emma that she's worn all summer long. : ) Thanks for helping me realize I'm not crazy!