All three pregnancies we kept the gender of our baby a surprise. First time round we knew we definitely wanted a surprise… we debated whether to find out a little bit more with number 2 and 3 but we knew in our heart of hearts that nothing could beat the moment when you’re holding your baby and you find out whether it’s a little bundle of pink or blue. I genuinely had no preference on gender. When I’d had George, I was thigh slapping, heel clicking, slap me on the back over the moon that we had a baby boy; given everything we’d been through to get him here, being anything other than drop dead grateful would have felt like the ultimate betrayal! There was however a teensy tiny little part of me that was envious of Mums of Girls!
I would stroll through the kids clothing sections in Next and Marks and Debenhams, picking up the little boys jeans and checked shirts and tiny little romper suits and I’d tilt my head to one side in a ‘oh my word these are cute’ kind of way! They were lovely and all! But I just couldn’t help think that the opposite end of the shop was mocking me! The pastel coloured, bright and sparkly, accessorised section was shouting ‘look over here! See these polka dot sundresses and flowery hairbands and beautiful daisy print shorts! Yeah you’re never going to be buying these! Happy with your dungarees are you??! Satisfied with that t shirt with a tractor on the front yes??! Like tractors do you??! You stay over there in your dark denim blue zone… these tutu skirts, pinafore dresses and stripy tights are not for you and your type!’
When Esme was born I was absolutely convinced we were having another boy so when she arrived in a whirlwind of bluster and the midwife announced that ‘there were no dangly bits’ on this one, I was in shock for weeks! I finally had the golden ticket to go into the baby girl section of the kids clothes shops! It was amazing- until Esme developed her ‘edge’ and dressing her was no longer as simple as selecting beautiful items from a wardrobe and putting them on her! I could give George a bin bag to wear and as long as it didn’t get in the way of him watching power rangers, he wouldn’t give a shiny shite! Esme however, likes to dress herself in her own unique style! Listed below is a guide to the world of fashion according to a 3 year old!
Esme is a big fan of layering! This is in part her partial compromise to attempt to continue to wear summer clothes all year round! She is reluctant to part with her sleeveless, thin summer tops and dresses and after many battles about whether it is appropriate to leave the house with bear arms when there is snow on the ground, she reluctantly adds additional items on top or underneath the dresses. When we went shopping for our Christmas tree this year, she left the house wearing leggings over tights with a pair of shorts over them and a skirt over the shorts! A Christmas jumper topped the look! This picture was a record breaker- this outfit contained no less than 4 dresses, 2 t-shirts(one long sleeved, one short, obviously!), a pair of shorts, leggings, 2 skirts and a pair of peppa pig socks! Imagine the scene from Friends when Joey wears all Chandlers clothes and you get the picture. This process not only looks ludicrous but also ends up with all items being chucked in the washing bin and adding to what is already a never ending pile of washing!
I seem to spend most of my life justifying to other people that ‘she doesn’t feel the cold’ or that ‘I offered her a coat but she declined’! I’ve lost count of the number of times people tell me they feel cold just looking at her or watch us walking down the road in a snow storm while Esme is wearing nothing more than a vest top and a pair of pyjama shorts with a look of disapproval! I’m entirely convinced she is cold but that stubbornness wins out! It also works in reverse when (just to mess with my head!) the sun comes out and she insists she needs to wear ‘double coats!’ On this picture, she wore two coats, three pairs of tights (just imagine how much stubbornness and determination it would take to manage to put 3 pairs of tights on top of each other!) and all her winter knitwear over a tinkerbell dress! But just so it wasn’t too ridiculous she did team it with sandals!
It’s not considered an appropriate outfit unless you have a minimum of 3 different patterns, 6 of the 7 colours of the rainbow represented and contrasting textures! Who says you can’t wear green and yellow stripy tights with a black and white geometric print dress over an orange t-shirt covered with navy blue hearts and a multi-coloured floral body warmer over the top??! And the obvious accessory choice would be red shoes and a Frozen headband, oh and a yellow boomerang of course!! I used to fight this one the most- I no longer have the energy!
Refusal to wear beautiful clothes.
She has a wardrobe full of beautiful clothes, some of which I even tried to take her shopping for and she picked herself! She does however generally refuse to wear 90% of her wardrobe and instead wears the same selection of slightly threadbare scruffy clothes all the god dam time! I once caved in to buying her a hideous ‘Hello Kitty’ t-shirt from a cheap shop when we out one day- she wears the bloody thing constantly! The lovely little dresses we lovingly selected from Marks and Next when we went on our lovely mummy/Esme shopping trip (which incidentally was not lovely but extremely stressful!) are cast to the back of the wardrobe in favour of the Hello Kitty dish rag t-shirt that cost £1.50 and was made in a sweatshop by children no older than Esme! I despair at the waste!
Wearing no clothes at all.
This infuriating back and forth of dressing battles would be annoying enough if we had to do it daily, however Esme generally gets stripped off and re-dressed approximately 47 thousand times a day! We go through all the rigmarole of choosing and putting on an outfit, only for her to get stripped off whenever we go indoors! This isn’t necessarily limited to just our house- her general rule is ‘if I cant see the sky I don’t need clothes on!’ Pubs, car parks, supermarkets… none of these places require shoes apparently! Or tights/trousers! Or coats! Whenever she gets indoors she instantly starts stripping off layers- if we are at home she never puts the same clothes back on adding more bloody washing to my pile! Painting her feet wearing nothing but a vest is a fairly typical day!
Going to met friends at the trampoline park? I’ll need to wear two swimming costumes and a little skirt over the top for that! Baking a cake with mummy? That calls for my best sparkly party dress! A birthday party or nice meal out with my family? I’m falling back on my old favourite the Hello Kitty T-shirt! I despair!
She either finds clothes that I’ve put away to put in a charity bag or pass on to friends that are too small. Or alternatively wears clothes that have either been frugally bought in a sale for the future or passed on from friends with older girls. The dress she’s wearing below is size 6- shed just turned 3 but insisted it fitted ‘just perfect!’
I used to fight all this! I used to spend hour after hour negotiating and trying to make her look coordinated! Recently though I’ve lost the will to fight! It probably coincided with the arrival of Ted and George starting school which resulted in a distinct lack of time in the morning! I’ve made my peace now! Whenever we go somewhere I generally announce our arrival with a statement along the lines of ‘Esme selected her own outfit this morning!’ I’m considering starting a new business venture making badges for mums of ferociously independent young girls to save having to explain myself over and over again! Things like ‘I selected my own outfit!’ or ‘I declined a coat!’ or ‘I self-accessorised!’ I reckon I could make millions! And when that fails because she refuses to wear them, its only 514 days until she starts school and we have the sweet sweet certainty of having to wear ‘school unicorn’ every day! God love her!