When my oldest son was a toddler starting preschool, I dreaded mornings more than any other part of the day. Dressing for pre-school was an incredibly stressful start to the day. It was a power struggle between me and this tiny human with incredibly strong opinions. Every day. One of us usually ended up in tears, and most of the time it was me.
My child was obsessed with his brightly colored superhero and Pokemon underwear. He loved them and choosing which to wear was the highlight of his day. Sometimes he decided the night before. In any case, a lot of thought went into picking the perfect underwear to match his mood, and then he chose a shirt to go with it. It didn’t matter that the underwear was hidden under his pants, or if the top clashed dreadfully with the bottoms, it only mattered that the shirt matched the underwear. It seems really funny looking back, but at the time, not so much. Like most new moms, I desperately wanted my darling child to leave the house lookingadorable.
What did I do?
Well, I argued with him for more than a few weeks. I was the mom, after all, and didn’t he have to do as I asked? I thought so. I alternatively requested, encouraged, bribed and demanded he wear different outfits until I looked at the clock, saw we were late yet again, and finally gave in. I was exhausted, frustrated and wondered what the other parents might think.
Regardless of whether or not we argued about what my son wore to school, most of the time the end result was the same; he ended up wearing the outfit he chose initially. It made sense for me to accept the situation. I needed to choose my battles- this one just wasn’t worth it. And so, he went to school dressed in one crazy outfit after another for about 8 months, clearly very happy with his choices.
So I decided to relinquish control and accept the situation for what is was. You know what, the world didn’t come to an end. None of the other parents commented or seemed to even notice, and if they had, well, so what. The problem turned out not to be my child, it was me. And before I knew it, my son moved through that phase into the next.
What I finally learned
I learned from that experience that a happy child in a silly outfit is better than a sullen well-dressed child. All day long. I learned that a calm and easy morning routine makes the rest of the day go more smoothly. Perhaps most importantly, I learned not judge other parents based on how their child came to school. The truth is, parents who allow their children to express themselves without pressure to conform are to be admired. They have the confidence to let their children be themselves, not who they want them to be.
What crazy battles did you have when your children were toddlers?
photo source (top photo): iammommahearmeroar.net