Some days I stand my ground and tell my 4-year-old daughter what to wear. It is a coordinated outfit, contains no Disney characters and most importantly, it matches. Most days however, I lose the will to live and let her dress herself…
It’s a daily battle between mother (fighting for coordination and style – think Boden meets Jo Jo Maman Bebe) versus child (fighting for clashing and princesses – think Vivienne Westwood meets Marmalade Atkins).
The battle commences at approximately 7am every day:
Stage 1: 7.00am opening discussions
It’s groundhog day in our house. Every SINGLE day begins with a clothing debate along the lines of: “no you can’t wear a sundress, age 2 – 3. Not only because it’s 5 degrees outside, but because you’re a larger than average four-year-old and looking like a member of Bucks Fizz circa 1985 is frowned upon at pre-school.” Sometimes it goes likes this “no you can’t wear the same spotty dress you have been wearing for seven days straight” and even “no you can’t model a Tinkerbell swimming costume with tights.” This usually leads us onto…
Stage 2: 7.10am negotiations
At this point I’ve usually spent around 10 valuable minutes in her bedroom selecting and suggesting suitable items. For a 4-year-old she has a pretty impressive wardrobe containing a large number of items which have yet to be worn. This is because they do not exactly match the criteria: must be pink / although will accept purple in exceptional circumstances, display gaudy princess images or at the very least a dog or cat, contain embroidery or stitching, must not bear creases or anything that is “sticky outy”, must not have pockets and ideally would feature at least one bow.
Stage 3: 7.30am breakdown in negotiations
At exactly 7.30am every single day I officially lose my temper and flounce out of her bedroom, morphing into my mother shouting as I go down the stairs not to “come running to me if she catches a cold” from wearing a nightie to pre-school. She is now in a pyjama top, woolly hat and princess knickers.
Stage 4: 7.40am deadlock
At this stage of the process, the four-year-old is upstairs sulking in her bedroom and I am in the kitchen swearing as the innocent 2-year-old politely asks for some Shreddies. There’s lots of noise coming from upstairs which lets me know that she’s now emptying the contents of the wardrobe to find a compromise item of clothing.
Stage 5: 8.00am ceasefire
A temporary reprieve is granted whilst breakfast is served to 4-year-old who is now wearing a Frozen Elsa dress.
Stage 6: 8.15am defeat
It is now 8.15am. WE HAVE TO LEAVE THE HOUSE IN 15 MINUTES. My mood has officially escalated from angry to uber-stressed trying to dress the two-year old who is asking to wear a flamenco dress instead of jeans today. It is at this point the 4-year-old usually appears (minus socks) in a mismatched, weather inappropriate ensemble. Sometimes it’s Christmas leggings with a toddler’s sundress, and other times it’s an eclectic mix of a princess dress with jeans and an oversized cardigan. Each outfit is complemented with a pair of red shoes and a fuschia pink coat (if not Peppa Pig wellies).
Stage 7: 8.30am submission
With no available time left to argue about outfit and my stress levels much like a cartoon bomb with a lit fuse hastily burning away, we leave the house. I can’t bear to look in too much detail at what she’s thrown together, and find myself over-compensating to her pre-school teacher explaining she dresses herself, and how I long for the days of school uniform.
However, the teacher points out that I should be embracing this stage, that she’s displaying her creativity and independence. I hadn’t really thought of it this way, all I was upset about were the untouched Boden dresses longing to be worn. I also never actually have a good reason why she can’t wear mismatching clothes, or Christmas jumpers in summer – who am I to stifle her creativity? I wonder if a career in fashion is on the cards, the next Stella McCartney perhaps? But then I notice she’s wearing woollen tights that don’t cover her bottom with an Elsa t-shirt (age 2) and think probably not.