Dressing 3 Year Olds and Herding Cats

Friday, August 20, 2010

If herding cats gets 5 stars for difficulty, then dressing a 3 year old surely deserves 10. I start out with visions of an immaculately turned out child with co-ordinated handmade clothes that subtly whisper my mother has style. Instead, I end up with a stunningly dressed child, with outfits that shriek I’m an individual and yes, I did dress myself today. You may not think it, but it is a victory on all fronts.

It doesn’t look like this in the magazines. The children are all well dressed, with brushed hair even. It all appeared so easy. As a prospective parent, I was convinced that my children would look like that too. Our days together would be carefully styled photo shoots. I still covet patterns and even occasionally even find the time to make something for my children.

Three year olds can have their own style. It has taken me a while to admit this to myself. Some children will only wear the clothes that have been carefully laid out for them. Others will put on every item in their wardrobe, knowing that they are only properly dressed when their arms can’t fit into yet another layer of clothing. Little E definitely has her own style. If I were a curator, I’d describe it as kinetic with more than a touch of purple. Think of swishy, swirly skirts, sequins, anything that moves when you walk, on a foundation of purple tracksuit pants and you would have Little E.

I was so sure that the purple skirt I made would be a favourite, yet I couldn’t for the life of me get her to try it. In the end, I just finished it and put it in her drawer. It felt like wardrobe malfunction of sorts.

You may be wondering why I still try to sew clothes for her. I wonder that myself, as she point blank refuses any request to try on clothes I make. In fact, every time, I swear never to do it again.

After sometime I had forgotten about the skirt. Then one morning she came out of her room, proudly swishing and twirling in her purple storm. It’s now challenging to get her out of it.

This smock was a similar story. I even tried to involve her in selecting the fabric. All along, I know I wanted it in the floral, not the black spots with orange trim Little E picked out. It went unworn, until she dragged it out last week, over one of her favourite purple items and proudly announced to anyone who cared to know that “Mummy made it”. Who knows, maybe it would have been a shorter process if I’d gone with the black spots.

It’s time to admit that I don’t have a mannequin, I have a child. Little E revels in her independence. If she chose it, she will wear it. It’s hard not to be disappointed when Little E isn’t nearly as excited about the things that I make, as I am. However, that I dressed myself look of pride is priceless. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

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  1. Hearing you about the degree of difficulty required in dressing a 3 year old! My 4 year old is usually reasonably happy with what we select for her to wear (usually involves some leggings and a skirt) but she dressed herself yesterday - in 4 siinglets and some 3/4 pants. There was snow on the mountain and barely made it over 10 degrees - apparently if you're wearing 4 singlets you don't feel the cold!! Kids - who'd have 'em!!


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