My daughter Katie has very set ideas about what constitutes ‘style’ in that on any given day she is absolutely determined that she will wear what she wants to wear. On a very odd occasion, this will match what I want. On a good day, I would describe her as independent of thought, or strong-minded. On a bad? Downright stubborn.
On Wednesday, we were having one of ‘those’ days. Rather than having her usual fruit and toast for breakfast, Katie wanted sandwiches. Then at lunch, she insisted that she needed her cereal bar before her bread and butter – after I caved in and said she could eat them in whatever order she wanted to – she ate the bread first.
I knew that to leave the house on schedule, I would need to start the process in plenty of time. Forty minutes before the starting time of her Art class, I said it was time to get dressed. She had noticed that Thomas and her Grandma were both wearing blue and white stripes (by coincidence – we’re not that weird) so she wanted to as well. Thinking this was an easy request, I set out her Polarn O’Pyret striped top, navy bubble skirt, some M&S grey tights and then her new boots from the Treehouse in Stockbridge. In my opinion, this, with a coat, was suitable for the weather, easy to wash (so fine for art) and she’d look presentable.
Katie had other ideas… a striped top wasn’t enough stripes! Whilst I was changing Thomas, she found an old pair of Joules leggings (aged 18-24 months) from the cupboard. I thought this would be bearable attire but wasn’t overly happy. However, I then made a bigger mistake – I left her to get dressed by herself.
She then came down the stairs in the top and the tights I had set out. Perfect!
Would she wear the skirt? No.
The leggings went back on. Fine.
She wanted Crocs… yellow ones. Despite the cold, wet weather and a whole array of sensible footwear, she wanted Crocs.
I said her feet would get wet, but the Katie solution to all things? Peppa Pig socks – they would keep her feet dry without a doubt.
In the end, despite my reservations, we left the house 40 minutes after beginning the clothing debate. It was interspersed with other joyful moments such as, ‘I need to eat a pretend lunch!’ and ‘I just need to do my dancing,’ but I was just glad we were going to be on time for once.
I have to say though, I felt slightly apprehensive about what other people might be thinking about her state of dress – particularly as it had been accessorised by a striped hat in yet another colour.
On the one hand, I think it’s good that she has her own opinions and is able to express herself. The outfit was actually one of her better creations and thankfully, on this occasion wasn’t joined by her lime green halloween tutu, but where do you draw the line?
She wasn’t going to be cold in her chosen costume but the footwear wasn’t really so suitable. Also, everything was comfortable and practical for the day’s activities. What was my problem?
I think deep down, I was worried that people would judge me and think I was a bad parent. Maybe they would think that I couldn’t dress her properly, or had appalling taste. Or perhaps they would know she had chosen her own clothes and therefore assume I had no control.
Sometimes I worry that I’m raising a brat child. Particularly when she is demanding and raging about something that she wants. But I am also aware of how many times I say ‘No’ and there is absolutely no negotiation: ‘No, you cannot run across the road.’ ‘No, you have to wear your seatbelt.’ ‘No, you cannot stay up and eat all the ice pops in the freezer.’ All in all, there are actually very few times Katie can completely get her way. Perhaps that’s why she throws herself into those moments with absolute determination? Most of the time, she is actually a very easy-going, amiable little girl, but sometimes the NO moments just stand out a whole lot more!