Last night a friend and I were discussing the daily battle to dress our six-year-old daughters. I was amused to hear that she had the same conflict that I do over letting D go out in an obviously clashing or otherwise crazy outfit. These are two little girls that, until they could dress themselves, were dressed consistently in Hanna Andersson, Lands End, LLBean, and other designer-ish kid togs. They always looked cute and as pulled together as pre-schoolers could be. Until they could dress themselves. Some of the ensembles make me dizzy - kilts (in summer!) with tie-dye; floral skirts with striped shirts, pink t-shirt with everything, or her favorite outfit this summer: pink shorts and teal t-shirt which gives me major Miami Vice flashbacks. I keep expecting to see Crockett & Tubbs hiding in her closet. But, we both agreed, it is better to see your child express herself, no matter how bizarrely, than to squash their nascent sense of self with criticism. (And frankly, I'm not one to point fingers as I can be relied upon to wear the same black t-shirt, ratty khaki shorts and flip-flops almost every day. Hey, they're comfortable! Don't judge.) I do draw the line for church - she has to wear a "church dress" -- and since we don't buy logo tees or anything branded with cartoon characters or Hanna Montana or anyone like that, I don't worry about her being inappropriate, just clashy. As for her other funny dressing habit, tucking in her shirts so snugly she looks like she's wearing a onesie, I assume she'll grow out of it.
I've learned to relax a lot with two kids. D had such a rigid early childhood, but I have to say things have loosened up a bit and everyone seems to be surviving. We'll eat McDonald's for dinner or buy sugary breakfast cereals or let the kids have some candy while they're with the babysitter. As long as they understand such things are treats and not the norm, I'm fine with it. And so far, so good. The one strange thing is the gradual extension of D's bedtime. (A still goes to bed at 6:30 and is happy to do it. I'm not rocking that boat!) But D's bedtime has gradually crept up to 8:00 - and we let her read for an additional 30 minutes in bed if she wants to. That's a huge change from the strict 7:00 I managed to keep all last year - more for M & I than her I think. Sometimes we'll let her stay up with us and watch Animal Planet or the Discovery Channel, sometimes we'll watch a family movie, sometimes we play games. But sometimes it feels odd suddenly having a talkative little person still hanging around, chatting our ears off, during the time that up until now was still all ours. I'm still trying to get used to it and wondering what will happen when she discovers what a sitcom is, or American Idol, or that there are shows on TV all night long! Will she stay up and watch? What will we do? What did my parents think when they looked around the living room at 8:00 and there were still five kids draped over the furniture watching "their" shows? I guess we'll deal with it when it happens.