Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Control and the Leopard Pants

Sometimes, out of the blue, I will remember my leopard print pants from high school. But, oh, these weren't just any leopard print pants - they were blue, skin tight leopard print pants. I think they might have even had a 70's bell bottom flare.

I really don't know why my parents let me out of the house in them.

And, I know what you're thinking. And you are right. They were most definitely not cool. Kinda like me in high school.

But I didn't care. They were fun and flirty and loud and different. Kinda like me in high school. I wore them all the time.

I think about those pants sometimes still, even though it has been probably 15 years since I last wore them.

Like when my son wants to wear "soft pants" (sweats) with the same Superhero shirt he wore yesterday and his rain boots. In Phoenix. When it's 95 degrees. . . . and hasn't rained in a month.

I think about those pants.

Or when my daughter takes off all her clothes, pulls on her rain boots (what is it with my kids and boots?!) and dances in circles around the kitchen, in her diaper and butterfly boots, singing "Ashes. Ashes. DOWN!!"

I think about those pants.

Even when I'm talking to a Mom friend at the park and my first words are "Don't judge me - they dressed themselves!"

I think about those pants.

Because now, after having kids - albeit small ones, but ones that very much have opinions about what they like and do not like - now, I understand part of what made my parents such good parents.


My parents could have easily told me not to wear the pants, that I looked ridiculous. They could have taken them away, or, since I didn't do my own laundry, it would have been simple to "lose them in the wash". I'm sure it wouldn't be the first time a parent pulled that trick.

But they didn't. They let me go on looking ridiculous in those ridiculous blue leopard print pants I loved so much. But there are so very few things a child has control over, starting from such a young age.

We tell them when they must eat - and what they must eat. How many bites they have to take. We tell them where they can sit and stand, no jumping on the couch, when to wake up, and when to nap and sleep. We tell them they have to turn off the TV and not to hit your sister and that it is time to do their homework/brush their teeth/feed the dog.

My children are so young, I am still choosing their activities. I choose whether we go to the park or the museum or run errands and who we do all those things with and at what times. Someday they are going to be able to choose them (to an extent), but until they are older, much much older, there are very few things that they can have control over.

Clothing has been one thing that as a child I had control over. One of those things my parents let me choose. (Within reason. I still remember those daisy dukes they took away from me in high school.) Recently, a friend told me her 8 year old daughter doesn't pick out her own clothes yet. That she's glad, because it's fun to play dress up for her daughter everyday.

I feel the opposite. As much as I cringe when Bjorn walks out of his room wearing his sweats (even though I hid them in the very back of his drawer), I am proud that he can choose for himself what he wants. That he knows his likes and dislikes. 

I know in order to stop the tantrums and the fights, to curb the constant helicopter parenting that seems to be what everyone is doing these days, I have to sit back and let go. To let my kid have a little bit of control. Stop the constant nagging on issues that aren't important. Save the control for the big things.  I will still tell him when he needs to take a potty break or a nap, but I will let him wear comfy pants every day..

And someday I will make him cringe with pictures of how he dressed himself when he was little. Just like I cringe now at pictures of those leopard print pants.


Amber said...

Tori dresses herself too, and almost never matches. She also almost never combs her hair. Or wears matching socks. But, heck, she's three. I'm with you. As long as I know she's mostly clean, she can wear whatever she wants. Oh, and the boots? She has a pair of pink sparkly snow boot that she wears every day. Every. Day.

Melisa - Mommy This & That said...

It is hard to let go but you are right, the clothing battle is not worth it! Oh...and can we see a picture of you in the pants???!!!