I am a happily married mama with three little ladies. I am a teacher, a poet, a playwright. I live on a tiny island in the Pacific Northwest and write babybythesea.net often, or at least when I'm not making espresso or sneaking chocolate.

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Preschool (Paris) Fashion Week

It’s Paris Fashion Week in France and it’s Preschool Fashion Day each morning in my three-year-old’s closet.

I am not a cookie cutter Mommy – it should come as no suprise to those who know and love me best when they encounter my children in all combinations of clothes, accessories and combinations.

As an elementary student, I designed and sewed clothes for my Barbies.  But, it wasn’t until high school I sewed thrift store vintage fabrics into just the right bit of Pearl Jam plaid and Grateful Dead flow to call them my own.  I love how my parents never batted an eye, but instead praised my creativity.  Their respect in character design must have come from my summers on a big wheel wearing my uniform: Wonder Woman Underroos, pipe cleaner bracelets and snow boots.

I’m fortunate to live amonst families who deeply value the creativity and expression of children and never toss a judgemental look.  On the tiny island we call home, most mommies value hand-me-downs and clothes cut responsibly from companies we value and stalk for clearance sales.  The booties my babe wore yesterday belonged to two other island babes, and will be seen on the feet of today’s yet-to-be-conceived islander of tomorrow.

My four year old clings to fleece. She says wearing fleece head to toe is like wearing a hug all day long.  I’ve found myself from time to time scavenging in her dresser drawers for just the right pair of jeans, sweater or button down shirt to lead her in a new style direction.  She stops me in tears, pouts and pleas, “Please, Mama, noooo.

Somewhere I read clothing choices can be a coping mechanism, a declaration of independence and a badge of creativity.  My four year old pairs fleece with any and all things animal print, fairy wings and second-hand pink cowgirl boots.  She has excema; fleece soothes itchy skin.  Her choice clearly has reason and merit.

Choice, ownership and respect within a space gives way to confidence.  Three-year-olds want their voices heard.  My three- year-old wants to show her own clever, unique personality.

Mama and Daddy choose their own clothing-parts, why can’t I?

Before morning’s 8:00 chime, I’d rather strive for an empty bowl of oatmeal, brushed teeth and clean hands.  When I send her out into the world of Preschool and playdates in something akin to this:

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I’m sending her in confidence, wrapped in the security blanket of our home.  This familiar outfit might just be the final, soothing piece resulting in new concept’s risk taking, patterns spun new at preschool.

Preschool is a fun, messy space.  Afterall, shouldn’t her wardrobe mimic her zest and zeal for life?

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Comments (5)

  1. Pingback: » Preschool Fashion Baby By The Sea

  2. Clove's Corner 03/15/2011 at 12:43 am

    Great essay! My mom squashed my creative dressing when I was little. I actually remember it, so I think I’m scarred. I remember her specifically telling me that polka dots and stripes don’t match and that pink and red clash. (And, funny, that is totally the fashion now.) My husband tells me I have no sense of style and I am now beginning to think it’s because I was never allowed to develop one. Do I need a therapist? I am SO looking forward to letting Juniper run wild with her own style…maybe she can teach me something. Right now, however, her preferred dress tends to be none at all, so I’ll wait for the next phase.

  3. Jennifer Joyce 03/14/2011 at 9:21 pm

    My older son used to insist on wearing long-sleeves ALL the time, even during the month or two that we call summer. Then he would not want to match. He would purposely choose clashing items. My younger one would HAVE to match. Or am I mixing them up? My younger one is my stylist who is teaching me how not to dress too matchy-matchy. He picks out my accessories.

  4. Alison Kallstrom 03/14/2011 at 4:04 pm

    Great post! Though my little girl is too small to give me her opinion (though at 16 months she already has an affinity for shoes), my four year old son is beginning to declare his own wardrobe thoughts. Of course, with him, it is always about comfort and not so much on style. 🙂 What a cutie you have!

  5. Katie Neuman 03/14/2011 at 10:00 am

    I LOVE this piece. For almost my whole 4th year of life I wore latex medical gloves, some kind of purse always resting in the crook of my arm, and globs of plasitc jewlery every chance I could get. Sunday mornings and my parents let me go to church that way. I will always remember and love them for that! Now, when my little ones come to the grocery store with me in dinosaur costumes or in a dive mask complete with a snorkel, I don’t blink an eye. What fun would it be if we weren’t allowed to create and explore and find our own comfort zones?!