How do I look?

One of my money making ideas that I never followed up on was a button that says "My kid dressed herself today." Even at age three Maggie had a strong sense of style and liked to choose her own clothes. She went through a phase where it was important to her to not wear socks that matched. Her Montessori teachers, classmates, and their parents didn't care. It was when we stopped on the way home at the grocery store that people would look askance.

I didn't really care.

When I taught at Oberlin, I had Wednesdays off and so Maggie and I would often go somewhere. Laurie would call to talk to Kim and ask me what I was doing the next day. I'd say, "I'm babysitting Maggie and – "

That's all it took. Laurie would always interrupt to correct me. "It isn't called 'babysitting' when it's your own child."

I'd smile. More of a routine than anything else. Some weeks Maggie and I would just play around the house. Some weeks we'd go to the zoo or the museum. Some weeks we'd go meet Paul at the Arabica and split an oatmeal raisin cookie. Paul and I would wash it down with coffee. Maggie would drink from her sippy cup.

At the museum they always looked at me like I was a divorced dad taking his kid out on visitation day. We'd wander unhurried. Usually starting in the polymer room playing. First just with Maggie and later with Elena. We'd usually drive, but they loved the day we took the lightrail down to the museum.

I didn't care how I looked. I was with my girls. Carry a diaper bag every where for a number of years and how you look isn't the first thing on your mind.

Maggie looked good in vastly different colors. She would wear dark solids and you'd think – that's the color for her. Then she'd change to pastels and you'd think – or that. Then she'd mix them up and wear things that begged not to be worn together and somehow on her it would just work.

I loved the hand-me downs. Maggie was so tall for her age and Elena was so short that Elena wore outfits at three that Maggie had outgrown by two. And they looked so different on each girl. The dinosaur t-shirt with the matching shorts enveloped Elena and disappeared on Maggie.

Maggie had straight hair and Elena had curly hair. We told them repeatedly that each would wish they had the other's hair when they were older. Elena was destined to be short and chesty, Maggie is heading to be lean and leggy. Kim and I were pretty sure that each would envy her sister's body type as well.

Maggie reacquired a hand-me down from Elena. It was a dress that Maggie had worn and then Elena wore. When Elena out grew it, Maggie took it back and wore it as a shirt. The bottom of the dress hit her just below the waste and made her look really cute and way too grown up from a father's point of view. I don't know what made her try it on. I don't think you can ever ask someone creative "what made you think of that" and get a helpful answer. Maggie just has her own sense of style. One that shipped with her factory installed. My kid dressed herself today.

Published in: on May 6, 2006 at 8:19 am  Leave a Comment