Monday, April 19, 2010

The Over-Wall Princess

As a personality trait, girlishness is highly evident in our household. At any given time, there's at least one small girl prancing around in pretend-mode, with fluttering lashes and gracefully poised arms. And she's probably warbling on about some assumed-romanticism.

But it's not all girly, all the time, either. We laugh at gassy emissions just as boisterously as middle school boys. We enjoy a well-timed belch, especially if it's released at the same moment as a word that's being spoken: there's nothing funnier. (Probably, I'd not giggle quite so much if I were surrounded by young boys doing these things constantly....but I'm not. So giggle, I do. Right before reminding my girly-girls to say 'excuse me'.) We play dinosaur games. We spray each other with our skunk tails. We fight pirates in the back yard and dig in dirt and throw rocks into the creek. We rip holes in the knees of our jeans and scrub under our fingernails after a hard day of playing.

So, given all that hearty play, I'm becoming more and more baffled by the current clothing trend around here: dresses.

If we're not all girly, all the time in our play, we are all girly, all the time, in our attire. Mia won't let a day pass without making sure she looks fancy: bows, necklaces, and sparkly shoes to go with her mandatory flouncy-skirted dress. She goes to bed only after laying out a dress and all its accouterments, safe in the knowledge that she'll beautifully dressed the next day.

I generally let her wear what she pleases -- it just works better for us. But on days we need to wear pants for weather or activity purposes, I've resorted to using my most sneaky-mom-ways to convince her that it's okay to wear pants.

"Oh, we're going to have SO much fun playing at the park, and remember: it rained last night! Jeans are better for playing in dirty mud, right?! Let's go CHANGE!! WOO-HOO!!" I look nothing short of annoying and embarrassing, I'm sure, with my high-pitched enthusiasm.

Most of the time, though, dresses are IT. We MUST have dresses. And that which big sister demands, little sister demands as well. "Mama, Ina dwess too! Yay!" says the sweet, messy Lauren. I've invested in play-dresses for her because she doesn't have a fancy vs. casual-dress eye yet. She'll wear anything that swings. But despite her lack of choosiness where style is concerned, she's even less willing to be convinced than Mia. Mia listens to reason with a 4-year-old's skepticism and understanding. No such luck with the 2-year-old.

This morning, I did the unthinkable: I planned for both of my dress-loving girls to wear pants (gasp!). The weather was cool and overcast, all of our tights and leggings were dirty, and a sundress just wouldn't cut it today. I talked Mia into jeans with little problem. She was happy enough to be reunited with a sparkly shirt that had been pushed aside in the wake of all the dresses.

Lauren's approval wasn't so easy to come by.

I'd decided on a super adorable pair of overalls for her, with tiny embroidered cherries on the front bib and back pockets. These overalls were worn almost daily by Mia when she was 2, in another of her 'I'll only wear THIS' phases. Unfortunately, Lauren hasn't fallen quite as in love with them as Mia did. Which saddens her baby-loving mama, who takes a little trip back in time whenever the overalls are in eyesight. Knowing that soon it'll be too hot for the overalls, I wanted her to wear them at least once more. And knowing she might not be happy about a non-dress day, I tried my talk-it-up tactics with her.

"Look, Lauren! These have cherries on them!" I cooed, while surreptitiously removing her pajamas. "Nom, nom, nom," I growled a-la Cookie Monster, distracting her with pretend bites of cherries. "Such pretty cherries, and they match your BEAUTIFUL red shirt!" I cheered while slipping the swingy, ribboned (quite dress-like) shirt over her head. "A pwincess, mama?" she asked.

"Oh, yes!" I gushed, helping her step into the overalls. "You're a cherry-princess!" But my farce was wearing thin.

Lauren's eyebrows marched together as she felt her legs being covered. She shook her head. "No, mama! I don' YIKE dem! Ina DWESS!" she pouted.

I could feel my control of her choice slipping away, and I might have let her choose something else, if not for the fact that we were running very late this morning. So, on I pressed. "But these are princess overalls, Lauren!" I promised with big eyes. "You look so pretty!"

She glanced down at her jeans-clad body in obvious disbelief. But before she could think too much more about it, I hooked a pair of ruby red slippers on her feet. They seemed to be the scale-tippers: she smiled and began to dance, swaying back and forth on her red slippered feet, patting the cherries on her chest.

I sighed with relief and headed for the kitchen, while she trotted down the hall to the full-length mirror. I felt like such a tricky mama, but I was okay with it: she was wearing warm clothes on a cool, wet day, and it may have been my last chance to get her into those adorable overalls. Mission, accomplished.

Then, from down the hallway, Lauren's tiny feet pounded a desperate rhythm away from the mirror. "MAAAMAAAA!" she cried, "NO OVER-WALL PWINCESS! I WAN-NA DWESS!"

I scooped her up, shushing her tantrum and promising a dress later -- as soon as school was over -- and off we went: girls in pants, for maybe the last time, ever.

Because mama's just no good at the convincing.


  1. We have a serious dress/skirt addiction going on in our house, too. But not just any skirt or dress will do; it has to be "poofy enough to be twirly." Ah, girls.

  2. I do not recall being so obsessed with dresses when I was a kid, but my girls definitely are. Why can't they understand that there is nothing wrong with wearing jeans?

  3. My daughter, K, wears dresses pretty much exclusively. For cold wet days, she'll wear a sundress OVER her jeans and shirt. Or wear it over jeans, and top it with a cardigan.

  4. LOL! You gave it a try. I insisted on wearing dresses and my mom made me wear pants underneath them because I didn't know how to "sit like a lady". Now I have several years of pictures of me in polyester dresses with mismatched pants underneath...sigh...

  5. I long for dresses here in a house full of overalls. :) But I do love me some overalls and dirt and well-timed burps.

  6. We are just entering the "I must only wear..." with Paige. Fynn NEVER cared. NEVER. Still doesn't (except that he thinks he can wear Crocs every day) but Paige definitely cares, and she's not even two yet! The difference between girls and boys in this area is so clear (at least w/ my two) that it's not even funny! Paige would have so much fun w/ your girls - and Fynn could hold his own belch/gas wise ;) What a fun playdate that would be!

  7. This post is so sweet. Seriously. You're such a good-natured mama and your girls are so precious. I love little Lauren, the reluctant Over-Wall Princess. What a sweetheart! (Possibly a screaming, wiggling mess of a sweethear, but a sweetheart nonetheless!)

  8. Oh man, I tortured my mother like this for so long! I refused to wear ANYTHING but a dress until I was probably eight. Drove her crazy!

  9. This made me giggle SO MUCH.

    My older daughter is generally the more . . . um, prissy? is it bad to use that word? . . . of our two, but she could care less what she is wearing.

    Two year old AJ, however, is a dress and skirt FANATIC. She also loves Spiderman, Transformers, tractors, and trucks. She's an enigma.

    It is so hard when they begin to exert so much of SELF, isn't it? Oh, the days when mama got to choose everything were so easy.

  10. We are not at the "I will only wear..." stage yet (and maybe with a boy, we never will be). But I can definitely relate to the nostalgia of babydom that I felt when I packed away my son's Carter Duckie feetie pajamas in the hopes that our next baby will be able to get just as much use from them. I am looking forward to pulling them out again some day!


Hmm...And how did that make you FEEL?