Saturday, January 17, 2009

Style by Kindergarten

So usually I avoid taking my kids shopping as much as humanly possible, but last week all four of us were at the mall because Adam needed new shoes.

Sweet Jesus, if you ever thought women were picky about shoes you have never shopped with Adam. We have been looking for shoes since before Christmas. We, or He, or his mommy, have been to every shoe store within 4 counties. You know the stereotypical picture of the husband sitting on a bench holding the bags, bored out of his mind while the wife tries on every damn pair of shoes in the store? Ya, that was us, except I was on the bench and Adam was the one repeatedly asking me -How about these? What do you think? Are these too formal? Too casual? Too dark? Too shiny? Too pointy? Too plain? Too elaborate? How do you like them in brown? Too old-fashioned? Does this sole seem funny? Are these laces weird? Is this leather from cows or bison? Are there any that will leave a more masculine imprint in the snow? Anti-microbial inserts? Can I get some in a 9 1/2 wide with speakers in the heels and turbo boosters on the back? While I was the one saying -Uh huh, those ones are great, can we please buy them already? Without actually bothering to look. The difference is that a woman would leave the store with 3 pairs of shoes while we left with nothing.

So finally we were at The Bay (where we'd been before, but hadn't bought the shoes then because Adam had to assure himself that no other store on the planet had the exact same shoes on sale for less) and Adam pointed up at a sign and announced: "Men's Fashions, this way."
"Daddy, what are Fashions?" asked Goober.
"Clothes" answered Adam.
"No Daddy. Not just any clothes. Fashions are cool clothes, like on Style By Jury. Fashion clothes are nicer than regular clothes."
Um, right, OK, so I do watch that show with her. Up until now I kinda thought it was cute when she would sit with me on the couch and exclaim "What is she thinking!?" but now I'm having second thoughts. Am I raising my daughter to be a judgemental snob?

My own wardrobe falls woefully short of anything that could be described as "fashion". My family is pretty much garbed head to toe in hand-me-downs, thrift-store finds and clearance rack specials. Will my influence be enough to teach Goober that cool clothes don't have to have expensive designer labels? My little fashionista is already clothing obsessed. Every day she spends ages putting together the perfect outfit and then acts like I'm ripping out her finger-nails if I suggest something more appropriate for the weather. I am always shocked when I hear about people with kids Goober's age or even older who still select their kids clothing for them each morning. Goober has been choosing her own clothes since she could walk.
On one hand I worry about teaching her that appearance is of the utmost importance and having her judge others by their clothing when she gets older, but on the other hand I want to teach her to develop her own personal sense of style and let her know that it's important for her to dress in a way that makes her feel good about herself. Materialism or individuality? Clothes aren't important, or clothes help you express yourself? It's what's inside that counts, or taking care of yourself on the outside will make you feel more confident? "Wear whatever you like", or "There's no way I'm taking you out in public dressed like that."?

It's just another of the tight-ropes we walk every day as parents. Always wondering how our actions will affect our kids in years to come, always wondering if we are leaning too far to one side or the other.
So, basically, if my kid tells you your shirt isn't very pretty, or that you look like you're trying to dress like a big kid or a grandma, I'm sorry. Feel free to set her straight, if you have some idea as to how.