When my oldest child graduated from her toddler program, there was a planned “bridge” ceremony with classmates, teachers, and families. As was customary with this sort of thing, I had picked out a sweet dress, imagining her twirling in it as pictures galore were taken.
The celebratory morning arrived. After opening her eyes my headstrong child informed me she would wear black pants, a bright orange tutu, and stained light green t-shirt to the event. At first I didn’t think much about it, convinced I’d simply coax her into the carefully selected dress I felt she should wear. We had breakfast and then I again showed her the dress, using my best saleswoman’s voice.
“Told you,” she said stubbornly. “Pants, that shirt, and TUTU. No dress.”
The haggling continued till it became apparent that if one of us didn’t give, we would all miss the ceremony. Looking back this day stands out for a simple reason…I let go of how I thought she should look and embraced how SHE thought she should look. It was a game changer.
Because why was I so against the orange tutu? Was it concern about what other parents thought? What her grandparents thought? That the fashion police would bust us for breaking mainstream child dress code?
My daughter is older now. When she asserts herself regarding dress and identity, I think back to the orange tutu. And I remember that for her the outfit was absolutely perfect. She had one of the biggest smiles while crossing the toddler bridge. And in the end, so did I.