Dinner With Princesses and Superheroes
This is who came to dinner the other night and frankly that’s more than okay by me. This is my Ainsley, five-year-old girl superhero. I love all of her many sides, the kickbutt girl who charges through a room like a bull in a china shop and the scared toddler hidden just beneath the skin unable to control her reactions to the world and her place in it. The fearless fish who plunges into six foot deep water and races across the pool like mini Michael Phelps and the kid with sensory processing disorder who screams – perhaps to shut out the other sounds that annoy her and cause her physical pain. She is fearless and bold and she can wear whatever costume she wants to dinner. I have always been okay with that. (Save for the one caveat that if it is winter I don’t want them wearing shorts outside and getting frostbite.) From the start I have looked the other way when my kids sometimes choose the silliest mismatched ensemble going and bravely tread out the front door. I couldn’t do it myself and, back in the day when I was a kid, well let’s just say if I had charged out the door to school looking like this well my mother would have turned eight shades of purple and hit the roof. When Payton, now 8, Ainsley’s older sister was three she would wear a ballet tutu or a princess dress on various outings to the library and I loved that. I loved that she wanted to be creative and I thought it was cute, so did most of the other people we’d encounter on our way. Last night I played Hide and Seek with a girl in a cat costume. Ainsley, on the other hand, often wears a knight costume with full armour to school. For kids, choosing outfits can be an issue of control and identity. Few children feel in control of their life. Most feel small and powerless. Tiny, inconsequential and often confused, overwhelmed or scared by big emotions. When you add to that mix of childhood feelings issues of abandonment, grief and confusion that surround being adopted or being in the foster care system, it’s pretty easy to see why a child would need to control something/ anything that is within their power. So in our house, unless it’s a funeral or wedding, children can wear what they wish, be happy, dream and grow wings.
I second that. In our house it’s usually clothes on the wrong way as someone is just getting used to dressing herself, but that’s how we reward the effort, rather then “fixing” it.
I wonder how often my daughter does not feel in control. She seems to spend most of her time giving me commands! I have been working on convincing her that I am the mommy, and I am the one who is supposed to be in charge. Since she was a baby, especially after reading a psychologist who encouraged parents to follow the lead of their babies to create rapport, I have let her set the agenda. One unfortunate consequence: instead of seeing this as a privilege, one of her core beliefs is that this is how life works, and it is supposed to be this way!