This week is Homecoming Week at our local district, and the girls are to dress in a different way every day. My poor kids don't even own any clothing in the school colors, much less anything that would work for Neon Day or 80's Day, or whatever else the school has planned!
So Big Sprout was thinking out loud today about what she was going to do for the rest of the week. I did something I almost never do. I offered to take her shopping at the local Goodwill store for items to wear this week. I figured there was no way I was going to spend retail prices on neon or 80's theme clothing. Thrift store stuff is more than good enough for once in a lifetime wear.
Oh. My. Gosh.
Big Sprout isn't big on shopping. Really, she isn't. She hates to ask for things, hates to spend money, hates to try clothes on. Still, her desire to show her school spirit was stronger than her dislike of stores. Off we went. At first, it was like pulling teeth. I was digging through racks while she stood there staring into space. Pretty soon, though, she was poking her fingers into the racks as I flipped. "Ooooh, that one's pretty" actually came out of her mouth a couple times! I couldn't believe it. Next thing I knew, the girl was throwing clothes at me left and right, wanting everything in sight. Lol!!! I didn't have the heart to reign her in too much, though I did end up setting a spending limit. When she hit that, I shooed her out the door as quick as I could.
It was a lot of fun to watch her come alive in the store. I think she was encouraged by my never ending response of "yes" to everything she liked. Thank goodness my kid has a pretty modest style! I think things would have gone much differently if she would have wanted things that are trashy or offensive. Ok, I will admit to raising an eyebrow at the lime green belt she fell in love with, but I can't say there was anything really wrong with it. I just thought it was ugly. We ended up getting her stuff not just for this week of weird outfits, but stuff she can wear the rest of the year too. I especially loved how she tried so hard not to be happy. It was like she thought she was too cool to enjoy shopping. Oh, the horror!.
She is so grown up in many ways, I often forget how young Big Sprout is. Today made me think about one way I have failed her as a parent, I think. I would say my "style" is casual to the point of slobhood. Not because I don't care about how I look, or like to dress up pretty now and again, but because my lifestyle just isn't one where nice clothes matter. I clean house and cook all night at work, then come home and do the same. It's not exactly a lifestyle where you worry about how the seat of your pants fits or if there are stains on your shirt. Ponytails are much more convenient and practical than actually fixing my hair. And makeup? Why? I will just sweat it off while I'm scrubbing the floor.
I think I have inadvertently given her the impression that it somehow makes you less of a good person if you are worried about how you look.That somehow being aware of your appearance takes away from your ability to be a hard worker, or have a kind heart, or be intelligent. I haven't modeled for her the idea that it shows you care about yourself and others if you put a bit of thought into your appearance. I haven't really shown her that it can actually be fun. I'm not saying I want her to be a trend-slave, or spend hours in front of a mirror to make sure she looks "just perfect". I just want her to know that it can be a good thing to wear clothes that fit well and flatter your body and coloring.
I guess I'm just hoping that today will go a little ways towards fixing that. It has also made me aware that I need to make that effort on a daily basis to make sure I show her that there is nothing wrong with putting on an outfit that is flattering and (dare I say it) pretty just because it is flattering and pretty. I need to show her that it's okay to care enough about yourself to make an effort to show yourself in your best light. And, maybe, I need to take her shopping more often. :-)
~....and that's all I have to say about that...~