Tantrum Warehouse
Tact Free Since 2003

I'm a Big Kid Now

2003-09-10
I think I may have fought with my mother maybe once or twice in my entire life. But we have one ongoing fight that has been happening since I learned to talk. In fact, I am convinced that my mother and I will be having this fight beyond death, that we will be arguing in Heaven and upsetting a group of angels until one of Godís personal assistants shushes us.

What? You donít think God has personal assistants? Then who shushes arguing mothers and daughters in Heaven?

Our fight concerns my refusal to wear dresses. My mother is old school and didnít even wear pants to teach in until the nineties. She likes wearing dresses and heels and pearls. She gets her hair done every week (though this may seem out of character, she forgets to pluck her eyebrows and the only makeup she wears is lipstickóbut that is a different argument). She cannot relate to some one who doesnít wear dresses. I love heels, I am too young for pearls and I own dozens of lipsticks but am more likely to wear mascara. What we have here is a difference in philosophy.

My earliest memory of my mother is fighting with her about my Christmas outfit. It was a red velvet dress with smocking and lace and a petticoat. I was supposed to wear lace tights with it. The only thing I liked in the entire outfit were the patent leather Mary Janes that went with it. I called them fancy blacks. But as much as I loved the fancy blacks I LOATHED the rest of the outfit and made no secret at all about it.

I hated how people wanted me to act when I wore a dress. I was supposed to sit up straight and not run around. I had to wear my hair curled (another intense hate). I wasnít supposed to sit on the floor. The dresses itched and the tights were saggy. I hated it all. And made no secret about it. I was four years old. Four year olds are loud. And can stamp their feet very hard.

I actually remember my father paying me to wear an outfit for school picture day that my mother picked out. It was the eighties and preppy was in. I was supposed to wear a little plaid kilt, peter pan blouse and a monogrammed sweater. To kindergarten. My mother was way out of control. I took his quarter and I wore that outfit like other kids might approach a spinach-eating contest with a great prize. Gritting my teeth and praying that I would be allowed to throw up afterwards.

My parents were sure that I would grow out of this phase. They were used to my sister--who would probably still wear pink and ruffles and smocking if that came in her size. They just couldnít understand a little girl who wanted to do her own thing and that did not include wearing that crap.

But the bane of my motherís existence was my Easter dress. Because after I was school aged I couldnít be bought off and she was tired of fighting me. Plus, my parents honestly believe in giving their kids freedom. But this was 1983 in Des Moines, IA and there were no dressy options for little girls in stores that had pants. NONE. We were lucky to find jeans that werenít pink or purple and didnít have ruffles at the hem. So we compromised. I could pick my outfit (which had to be approved) but it had to be Easter appropriate and I had to wear a bonnet.

Now I had some criteria for this dress also:

1. It could not have lace or ruffles of any kind.

2. There could be no bows, beads or smocking.

3. The skirt could not have trim at the hem.

4. No petticoat.

5. It could not be pink.

Man, that is a tall order for a five year oldís dress. I owned a lot of sailor dresses and I got my first suit before I started third grade. But we managed it every year. Even if we had to start shopping before Christmas.

Often the only thing that would convince me to buy a dress were the accessories that would come with itóusually handbags.

I gave my mother a present for my wedding. I wore a dress. I even let her pick it out. As long it had no lace, beading, bows and it wasnít pink.

I really havenít grown up at all.

5:36 p.m. :: comment ::
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