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Smell the Coffee: No dressing-down over dressing down

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- I miss hiding Easter eggs. I miss decorating baskets and rationing chocolate and picking synthetic grass out of the carpet.

But I don't miss the whole Easter dress drama.

When my daughter was little, she loved wearing dresses. She just never loved wearing them on Sundays, holidays, to weddings or funerals or pretty much any occasion that would warrant a dress.

Especially Easter.

Oh, Celeste was game for wearing dresses when playing outside, when riding bikes, when rolling in freshly mowed grass or hanging upside-down from playground equipment. Just not for Easter. And never, ever, not once would she wear a hat.

A few weekends ago, we were at my parents' house when Celeste spotted her school picture from first grade. In the photo, she's wearing a pretty purple and white dress. She pointed to it and smiled.

"I remember that dress. You paid me to wear it that day, didn't you?" Celeste asked. "Ten bucks, if I remember it right."

She remembered it wrong. It was twenty. I didn't have a smaller bill and she wouldn't make change.

It was worth every cent.

At the time, she'd been thoroughly enamored with a pair of bell-bottom jeans that were worn raggedy thin at the knees. Those battered knees, she insisted, made them even more fashionable. She loved those jeans. So much that she wore them every flipping day.

I was embarrassed to go to school functions, certain the teachers and other parents believed me so poor I couldn't afford other clothes for my child. I wanted to pin photos of her well-stocked closet to her backpack as evidence that she wasn't a victim of fashion neglect.

I was feeling like the worst mom ever when I happened across a conversation at a birthday party for one of her classmates.

"Sorry about the boots," one mom said. "She won't wear anything else."

"Look at mine," said the other mom. "Flip-flops. There's an inch of snow on the ground."

"You pick your battles," Boots Mom said.

"I picked it," Flip-Flops said. "I lost."

So absorbed was I with the inappropriateness of my own child's garb that I failed to notice the other children were, for the most part, equally bizarre.

Fast-forward a decade or so.

You know that saying, "The more things change, the more they stay the same"? Well, my girl is still enjoying walking a few steps off the beaten path. These days, she loves Goodwill. She's especially fond of the men's department. Where she searches out bizarre sweatshirts.

One day last week, she went to school wearing a black sweatshirt that had "No. 1 Principal" written in rainbow lettering across the front. On the back, it said, "Paul."

The day before, it was a Christmas sweatshirt declaring that she "Delivers Happiness."

Next, I think she'll be on Halloween.

I'm tempted to photograph and publicize her closet, which is now -- just like then -- stocked with many adorable clothes.

Normal clothes.

Although truth be told, I'm more fond of the part of the closet that's not.

Reach Karin Fuller via email at karinfuller@gmail.com.


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