Here’s how it went down:
6yo: (carrying her chosen outfit into the room where I was dressing the baby) this is what I picked out for today. (Holds up a shirt and pants with stripes that absolutely don’t match).
Me: Oh, honey, I think probably you should wear one of those, but not both of them together.
6yo: Why not? They both have stripes! Look, they both have red stripes and green stripes and pink stripes.
Me: Yes, but they’re not the same shade. It’s just too much.
6yo: But I REALLY want to wear them together.
Me: (Sighing)….well, why don’t you put them on and we’ll see how they look.
6yo puts them on and the combination of stripes kind of makes my brain hurt.
Me: Oh, honey…. (losing the ability to hold my tongue)…..that looks ridiculous!
6yo begins to tear up.
Me: (feeling bad now) Ok. Why don’t you go look in the mirror and if you like it and really want to wear it that’s fine with me.
6yo looks into the mirror and the tears start to silently fall.
Me: (knowing I should’ve just let it go) If it’s really important to you that you wear them, I’m fine with that. You wear whatever you want. Really.
6yo shakes her head. She knows it looks ridiculous, but is crushed that I ruined for her what she thought was a nice outfit. I’m crushed that I’ve broken a small piece of her spirit this morning, yet relieved that she won’t be leaving the house looking like a circus clown. Also, I feel purely evil.
I’m not sure who I was protecting more – her or me (probably me) from the thoughts in her teachers’ heads (that I would never hear anyway) saying “why would her mother let her wear that?” In fact, if I had just let her go, they might even have thought “Oh, I’ll bet she picked that outfit out herself – good for her!” I can’t even say why it matters to me what other people think. My child is clean and well-fed and a good, responsible student. Who cares if her outfit may cause seizures? Well, maybe people who have stripe-induced seizures, but I don’t think she goes to school with anyone like that.
I really do try to avoid being a helicopter parent. Often, like today, I fail. Logically, I know it’s good for our kids to fail and learn to deal with failure. Like most Moms, though, I just want to protect my kids. Still, I don’t think protecting them from clashing stripes is a noble endeavor. In the future, I’ll try to just let stuff like that go.