And that got me thinking...
I took the girls to a concert this morning.
Not as flash as it sounds - Peanut was going with her playschool anyway, so Bug and I tagged along since it was held in the brass band hut on the corner of our street. I'm all about convenience.
Straight afterwards we headed back to the girls' playschool and playgroup. I had dressed the kids in their normal play clothes, which in this weather is usually tracksuit pants and some layered t-shirts, under a jumper or jacket.
Now, let me be perfectly honest. These clothes have a patina of wear. Which is a nice way to say the odd stain or rub mark. Not huge ones - just a stray grass mark on the knees, or a bit of discoloration on the neck of a t-shirt that has seen one too many dribbled apples (I'm looking at you, Bug).
I don't mind this at all. The kids don't look shabby, just (in my view) appropriately dressed for the activities they do. Activities like painting with stainy paint, or running and skidding on their knees in the black-rubber-topped play ground. Activities like "being kids".
When they wear clothes that are cheap and easily replaceable I can let them be as active and messy as they choose. They are happy doing what they please, and I am happy that I don't need to nag them about keeping clean. (Although I do wish Peanut would stop wiping her fingers on her shirt. I'm not *made* of laundry powder, I *make* laundry powder. There's a difference!)
So, back to the story... At the concert there was a sweet little girl who was dressed in a grey woolen smock dress, red stockings and shiny black patent leather shoes. She looked adorable, and her mother was understandably very proud of what she was wearing. Unfortunately, the mum was so proud she would barely let the kid move. While the other children were dancing (and Bug was dancing so hard she fell over, then kept right on grooving, while lying on the floor) this poor girl was made to dance right beside her mum, and asked to calm down if she got too excited so she wouldn't scratch her fancy shoes.
Now, I have no idea if the mum was about to head off somewhere more important for the day, and just brought the girl to the concert as a pleasant diversion on the way. (but I suspect not, as Mum was still in her Uggs... but maybe she was dropping her daughter somewhere? I'm not sure.) But I think the mum probably dressed the kid up in her best duds to show her off a bit. And that's fine, it's something I'm equally guilty of on numerous occasions.
Still, I was glad I saw that mum and her daughter today, because it reminded me that young children in general don't care about fancy clothes and all that goes with it, except when it interrupts their essential job of being a kid. (With the notable exception of dress-ups, of course.)
Peanut and Bug are happier and more comfortable in their play clothes, and they arguably learn and experience more too, since they have greater freedom of action.
I know the day may come when the girls prefer to sit pretty dresses rather than play soccer in the playground (not that it ever came for me!) but today was a reminder for me that I should probably (where possible*) try to match their clothing with their world view, instead of inflicting my own agenda. And hopefully, dressing them in practical clothes will lead them to learning practical skills and being practical people.
So, dear readers, what are your views on play clothes? Am I out of line dressing my girls mainly in shabby-not-so-chic? Will my cunning plan backfire?
*I do retain complete veto power for Important Occasions... and the right to declare an Important Occasion at will.