Friday, April 23, 2010

Fashion Frustration

The teachers at my daughter's day school think I am NUTS. And not just the teachers she has now...all the teachers she has had since she started school at four months old.

Most people bring their four-month-olds to "school" in one-piece sleepers. Not me. I was excited for my daughter to get to wear all of her cutely coordinated outfits, complete with socks or tights and matching headbands.
First Day of School

Don't get me wrong...when I was on maternity leave and we were mostly hanging out at home (her continually sleeping, me catching up on reruns of The OC on SoapNet), I often dressed her in onesies. Due to spitting up or diaper explosions, she often wore more than one a day. However, when we met friends for lunch or went over to visit my mother, the Nana, or went for a stroll and window shopping at the mall, I put her in cute outfits vs. onesies/sleepers.

Hanging out at home on maternity leave

Having a reason to put her in cute outfits every day was probably the only thing I liked about going back to the office initially. It certainly wasn't dressing my still-carrying-25-pounds-of-baby-weight body, learning how to balance 50-60 hours of work with being a mommy, or missing The OC every day! And so I took pleasure in it...dressing her in pants outfits with matching sweaters and socks, Fair Isle sweater dresses with colorful tights and headbands, anything that was multiple pieces with matching accessories. My daughter was the best dressed baby in the nursery. She was a single-baby fashion show.

Some of my favorite looks for her

While her teachers looked forward to seeing what I put on her each day and always told me she looked adorable when I came at lunch to feed her, they still thought I was crazy. My first tipoff was a few weeks into her school experience when the school had a Pajama Day.

One of my daughter's teachers went out of her way to point out that Friday was Pajama Day. We're all wearing pajamas, Mom, she said, even all of us teachers. Sounds fun, I said. OK, so you're going to bring her in pajamas then, right Mom? she asked me seriously. Um, yeah, I responded, realizing that she was making a point to me, because my daughter was the one kid not already wearing pjs to school every day! On Pajama Day, I brought her in to school in one of her cutest one-piece footie sleepers...with a matching headband. I couldn't help myself. The next week we returned to all pajama-free fashion, all the time.

Fashion fun at school was all well and good when my daughter was immobile and eating only out of a bottle...it became infinitely more complex when she started eating baby food, doing art projects, crawling/walking, and playing outside. More complex for me, anyway, in terms of laundry. While I appreciate that the teachers have more than one kid to feed, and I was still dutifully coming at lunch each day to help feed my daughter, it was mostly in an attempt to keep her and her clothes clean and food free. Orange food, which they seem to serve several days a week at school, became the bane of my existence. I began to dread doing her little laundry, which started to involve tons of Oxyclean, Clorox color-safe bleach, AND Tide...all at once on garments to get stains out.

This is the bib I sent to the school...
even the full arms don't seem to protect her clothes from stains!

Art was also annoying, because despite the teachers' claims that the paint was washable, a few outfits got ruined by this "washable" paint.

Why not give in and send her to school in her simplest, oldest, most boring clothes you ask? Because then the terrorists win! No, of course that's not why. I send her to school every day looking as cutely dressed as possible, because I love to dress her in pretty outfits. My daddy always told me growing up, "If you can't be sweet, be pretty" and I guess that stuck with me (I try to be both). I am admittedly high maintenance (see Why Glam-O-Mommy?). I always like to look pretty and I like for her to look pretty too! I care what I look like...why would I send my daughter to school looking like a ragamuffin? Some people do, but I just can't.

I love to accessorize her looks

As my daughter has grown and moved up into other classes, new teachers have led to new fashion challenges as well...one being the backup outfit. It's always a great idea to have a backup outfit in the diaper bag in case of emergency. I always sent one along initially. At one point, the teachers she had changed her into the backup outfit provided every day...just because. Not because of an accident or any true emergency...just because they wanted to, which I got tired of, because it created double the laundry for me! So, I nipped that in the bud by NOT sending an extra outfit AT ALL, and suddenly my daughter was able to make it through the day wearing the same outfit with no problem!

Lately, I have been sending one again since she's in a different class. In this class, the kids sit at a table and get to feed themselves, which means they can get their own food all over themselves and the kids around them because they are learning to eat on their own, with or without utensils! And they go out to the playground everyday, which means my daughter dumps dirty sand all over herself at least once a day. Joy.

I don't generally go to see her during lunch anymore, because my daughter is at a clingy stage and if I arrive mid-day for a visit, it just makes her upset when I leave and makes more drama for the teachers. If I do go, I try to time my visit with the playground time so I can wipe sand off her a little, but mostly I just eat lunch at my desk or go out with coworkers.

But back to the backup outfit issue...now I'm frustrated because these teachers have started changing her into just HALF the outfit. One day I came to school to pick her up and found her in the top from the backup outfit and the rest of her original outfit, which did not match at all. That day, they changed her because her original top got wet during the day. Perfectly understandable, but couldn't they have changed the entire outfit so at least she would MATCH?!

Then, yesterday I came to pick her up to find her in the leggings from the backup outfit and the rest of the original outfit, which looked bizarre. When I asked why they changed her out of her jean skirt and into the leggings, the teacher said it was because she thought the leggings were more comfortable for her. It was a little jean skirt for goodness sake! I hate coming to school and finding her looking like a HOBO CLOWN because she is in mismatched garments! (And the shoes she is wearing NEVER match the backup outfit...that's Murphy's Law).

Despite all my comments so far, I really like her teachers...they are absolutely terrific with my daughter. I love, love, love them aside from the ongoing fashion frustration, so I just gently mentioned to them that when they change her into the backup outfit, for whatever reason (even the ones I disagree with LOL), could they please go ahead and change her into the entire outfit? It seemed like this concept had never occurred to them! And like they were cautiously trying to appease an insane person as they said, OK, sure, we can do that if you want. No sudden movements around the crazy lady...

I don't think I'm crazy though. Obsessed with my daughter's cleanliness and appearance, yes, I'll admit that. (Don't EVEN get me started on the fact that her face always needs a good scrub to free it of food/snot/dirt at the end of the day or the fact that hand-washing time always includes the teachers encouraging my daughter to run her wet hands through her hair which restyles her hair into a faux hawk most days.)

But you know, I don't always go straight home after I pick her up. Some days we have places to go together, and on those days, I have two choices: (1) take my chances on what she will look like/be wearing at the end of the school day OR (2) take a clean extra outfit in my car to put on her when I arrive and plan to scrub her face/wet down and comb her hair back into control before we go. Usually I opt for number two when we have anything major to do that I know of in advance. Other days, I take my chances on the school, which means we mostly come straight home!

OK, I can't resist putting a few more pictures of my daughter in her cute outfits

Oh well...by then it's dinner time anyway, which gives my daughter one more chance to create challenging laundry for Mommy...

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