When do I tell her that her clothes don’t match?

January 13th, 2015

Miss Mouse has what could generously be referred to as a flamboyant sense of style. She’s dressed herself for years and she wears what she likes. Often, “what she likes” is an odd assortment of patterns, colors and styles that nature never intended to coexist on one six-year-old body.

A mild example. Orange and blue striped dress. Pink star-burst leggings. Day-glo orange and green sparkle socks.

DMS Subtraction Work

I don’t tell her when her clothes don’t match. Why does it matter what I think of her outfit? Or what anybody else thinks, for that matter? I want her to have confidence in her decisions and to own them as fully hers.  You want to wear zebra jeans with your favorite polka dot t-shirt? Go for it, girl. Hold your head high.

But lately I’ve started wondering if this tendency to be silently supportive may be giving my child a problem with authority.

I took Miss Mouse to another painting class this weekend. It was a snowy tree scene that involved using painter’s tape and sponges. This was her game face, going into the event.

Game Face

That face got less cute as the afternoon progressed.

The problems started when I tried to help her tear her tape into appropriately-sized pieces for the tree trunks. She snatched the tape back from my hands, insisting that she would do it herself.

Okay, fine. Independence is good.

But then I tried to repeat something the teacher had said about how you want larger branches close to the trunk, then have them get smaller going out. Her response was an eye-roll and aggrieved sigh that would have made any thirteen-year-old proud.

So it continued, my gentle suggestions being met with disdain and even outright disgust. And they were gentle suggestions. I absolutely want her to do her own work as much as possible and had no desire to wield the paintbrush for her.

We were there to learn, though. That’s what classes are about. You take a class because you recognize that you don’t know everything and you want to learn from someone who knows more than you.

This was not Miss Mouse’s interpretation and I found myself wondering if, as parents, we may be overly supportive of our kids sometimes. In my desire to let her form her own opinions and make her own decisions, I’ve created a dictator-in-training. An absolute ruler whose opinions are sacred (or so she believes) and subject to no external forces.

Honestly, I’m not sure what to make of it. How do we balance the desire for our children to have confidence in their decisions with the need for them to be aware of the fact that they are not all-knowing at the age of six?  I haven’t worked it out yet, but let’s just say that I’ve been having some one-sided conversations with Little Bird about whether it is truly appropriate to wear red and pink together.

2 responses to “When do I tell her that her clothes don’t match?”

  1. Jo Burkhalter says:

    Interesting issues, for sure. I think that wide latitude on matters of taste in clothes and approaches to art are the way to go. (NB: My beautiful Josie has died her Vietnamese-black hair blonde. Just say’in..) A 6 year old (and a 17-year-old) have the right to their opinions about what’s pretty. Being a booger-snot at art class (or the 17-year old equivalent) isn’t the same thing. They’re just so danged cute with it, though…

  2. Debbie says:

    I agree with Jo. Respecting her choosing what she wants to wear is not the same issue as her disrespecting you (and others?) at Art Class. My question was ‘Will this behavior hurt her in the long run?’. Wearing sparkles and stripes and polka dots – no. Being disrespectful and rude to her Mom – I think, yes. I also agree with you that is is so hard to decide what is what. Ellie is your first so each new stage, each new behavior is a new opportunity for you to learn, too. And, in case you didn’t know this, sometimes you will screw up and BOTH OF YOU WILL SURVIVE!! You got this, Kate.

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