My 5-year old daughter is dressing me for one week. Today was Day 2. (Here’s Day 1.)
When you’re 5, there’s not a whole lot you have control over. Someone else tells you when to go to bed, what you can watch on TV, when you can watch TV, whether you can have dessert. You have to clean up after yourself (or sometimes, when life is particularly unfair, after your little brother), make noise at the appropriate volume, eat your vegetables, and go wherever the vehicle you’re strapped into takes you. You wear a coat when someone else feels cold. You have to get in the bathtub right this minute, no excuses. You have to do your homework.
We have to do a lot of these kinds of things as adults, too, but we also have the freedom not to do them. Jail time for breaking laws and money constraints aside, we pretty much have the power to please our small everyday whims. No one’s going to send us to timeout for skipping our morning shower (thank god). And we might just decide to have dessert twice. Instead of dinner.
I’ve made the comment many times that Rosie never liked being a baby, and I think it was completely and totally because of lack of control. As she’s gotten older and become responsible for more of her daily goings on, she seems to like life a lot better.
Already, by day two of this experiment, I can see how satisfying it is for Rosie to be calling the shots. After she chooses all the pieces of my outfit, I try the whole ensemble on, and she steps back with a finger to pursed lips, assessing her work. With an air of authority, she either declares it just right, or she switches out an element for something Just Righter. (In today’s outfit, it was the shoes.) I always do what she says, willingly. How often, as a 5-year old middle child, do you have A.) the full attention and B.) the complete cooperation of your mom? In this house, not very often.
Today, she originally chose bright green ballet flats to complete this look, but it only took her one once-over to decide that they weren’t right. (Which, frankly, was a relief. Together with the pink and cream striped socks she picked out, I was looking a little bizarre.) So she dipped into my closet and emerged with black ankle boots. The entire outfit consisted of grey polka dot pants, blue shirt with black stars, a bulky wool cardigan in shades of light brown and cream, the boots, and pink, brown, and cream striped socks (not shown). I call it Rosie’s “Star Surprise.”
“I always try to do my best, so I just pick what’s perfect. I love blue and black, they go just right together. And high heels. High heels are the best.”
I was asked (by my sister) today if the shirt I was wearing was purchased with the intent to be a sleep shirt, and while I didn’t explicitly buy it as pajamas, it is from a store that markets almost exclusively to teenagers. (I bought it in a consignment shop, though. I have my dignity! Mostly.)
Again, this is not an outfit I would have put together myself, not even remotely. But I didn’t feel weird or dumb wearing it. I felt like I looked pretty alright. And I cannot overstate the confidence boost it is to have your 5-year old beam with pride when you present yourself for the day. It’s like the reaction you get when your kid witnesses you wearing their lovingly-crafted macaroni necklace to a fancy restaurant. Times 100.
I think she’s absorbing something good, sitting at the helm of this small decision-making ship. I’m not sure I can articulate exactly what that something is, but I hope it’s something along the lines of: Your opinion matters.
Because it does. And so does she.
October 23, 2014 5 Comments