I learned a lesson today.

It was the kind of lesson that you know, if you’re a parent, your kids teach you without either of you knowing it. The kind that makes you feel very, very small.

God knows I’m not a model parent. I’m moody and ill-tempered. I have little patience. I swear.

I swear a lot.

But there’s one thing that I have really striven to nurture in my kids and that’s their creativity. Their sense of wonder. Of possibility.

Instead of coloring books, I gave them blank paper.

Instead of games, I told them to make their own.

I encourage writing their own stories as much as reading those of others.

But increasingly, I’ve been missing the mark.

Today was Picture Day at school and last night my daughter told me she wanted to wear the dress my husband calls her Elf Maiden Dress. I told her it wasn’t really appropriate attire for school. After all, hadn’t we talked about how she’d wear it at Christmas?

Me: It’s for special occasions.

Her: But Picture Day is a special occasion!

After much discussion before bedtime last night, she settled for three possible outfits she’d wear to school. I could tell her heart wasn’t in it.

This morning as he stumbled to the coffe pot, my husband says, “I’m supposed to work on you – to get you to let her wear that dress to school.” And suddenly I saw the situation the way my 6-year old did.

She was getting her picture taken today. Her mom wouldn’t let her wear her favorite dress.

And I thought, what the hell is my hang up? If you can’t wear what you want when you’re a kid, when are you going to be able to? I thought of The Red Dress Project and felt just stupid. 

So today she wore her Elf Maiden Dress, cable knit tights and Twinkle Toes Skechers. I can’t believe I didn’t realize how perfect it all was until I saw it.

13 Responses to “Lessons”

  1. Deanna Says:

    I have had this exact conversation with my daughter about this exact dress! In fact this looks like my back yard, only we don’t have the pink tennis shoes, she had brown ones and then lost them. She has had the dress since Christmas and worn it several times, but only once to school. I’m glad you let her wear it. 🙂 http://chroniclecantrell.blogspot.com/2010/04/you-capture-sweet.html

  2. Karen Says:

    THiS, is so absolutely perfect! And it made me all weepy. Probably because I was lucky enough to wear Jenny’s red dress, but also because I so get this. I’m glad your daughter got to wear it, but I think you win too 🙂

  3. Jenny, Bloggess Says:

    I love this. So, so much.

  4. leslie Says:

    Oh, it IS perfect!

  5. leslie Says:

    Me, again. This reminds me of someone who always wore her good jewelry because every day was a special occasion, and why have it if you never wear it? Indeed. I think she used her “good china” for the same reason. 🙂

  6. Kate Says:

    Because you know when she’s 40 and runs across her school picture in a box in the back of the closet, now she’ll smile wistfully and sigh “That was my most favorite dress!” instead of remembering how her mother wouldn’t let her wear it and forced her to wear something she didn’t like. Because that kind of stuff sticks with you.
    You did a great thing toward future happiness!

  7. I suspect Victor is lying to me because he feels threatened by my powers — TheBloggess.com Says:

    […] Lessons. […]

  8. Mary Says:

    I wore uniforms to school growing up. Really ugly ones. Now I can’t pass a tutu without wanting to wear it inappropriately immediately. I’m trying to think of an appropriate setting in which a 50 year old woman would wear a tutu. And maybe that’s my problem. Why be appropriate!

  9. Laurel Says:

    Loved this.

  10. Wish I'd worn an elf dress Says:

    Rock on, you are an awesome parent. Today I wore pants with elephants all over them, a purple t-shirt that says ‘misfit’, red suede shoes with yellow stars and a vintage sailor hat, just because I could. I’m forty. YAY you!

  11. Sarah P Says:

    Oh, it’s perfect. You’ll love those pictures for years.

  12. Ashley Says:

    I want to say thank you.
    I often think back to wearing whatever the heck I wanted and now I “dress for the job.”
    Which isn’t very comfortable and I always feel uncomfortable in my clothes because I’m not wearing what I WANT to wear that day, but what I think I SHOULD be wearing.
    And so tomorrow when I go to work… I’m going to wear something awesome,
    It’s funny how we always need an experience with a 6 year old to remind us to be our glorious selves, right?
    You’re a rockstar parent and your daughter is going to appreciate the heck out of you for years to come. <3

  13. Martina Says:

    Absolutely loved your post!!

    I have a five year old who insists on wearing the same leopard skirt and kitty shirt every day 🙂

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