Save the drama for your mama.

This morning Supergirl walked down the stairs resplendent in charcoal grey, grinning from ear to ear.  It’s June.  It’s sunny.  It’s hot.  Tis the season for sundresses and tank tops.  But not for Supergirl.  She was happily swathed in grey knickers and a grey skull t-shirt that she swashbuckled away from Saint James the second he decided it was too small for him.  From the look on her face, she was pleased as punch with her ensemble, feeling tough and sassy, at ease and ready to rumble.  She rooted around in the hall closet for her skull Vans and voila, she was good to go.

lougrayWe’ve entered new terrain, Supergirl and I.  The terrain of mother-daughter sartorial angst.  I am extremely laissez-faire when it comes to her clothes and have allowed her to slowly and systematically reject anything “girlish” in her wardrobe, to opt instead for a steady stream of shapeless t-shirts from various locales visited by both sets of her peripatetic grandparents and a seemingly endless supply of tie dye shirts.  As our neighbor, Salt and Pepper Polymath, pointed out, she has an impressive collection of Ireland t-shirts.  Not really.  It’s just that she pilfered Devil Baby’s and Saint James’ before they even realized they had been given a souvenir.  

Cute little Splendid tanks I got on sale last summer?  Nope.  Winsome white jersey sundress with Chinoiserie florals and drop waist – super comfy, super cool and as un-girlie as a sundress can be?  Nope.  Myriad skorts, sporty yet feminine?  Nope.  Nope.  Double Nope.  I could go on and on – I have cornered the market on comfortable, adorable, tomboy-appropriate clothes, and for a while, it was working.  But now she’s pushing further and I find myself pushing back.

Anyone who knows me knows I’m not a girlie girl.  I’m pretty low maintenance and although I love clothes and shoes and most of all BOOTS, I tend to end up in a bit of a uniform:  tanks, skirts and flipflops for summer; jeans, thermals and boots for winter.  But I’m all about mixing it up.  High, low.  Girlie, butch.  Dressy, casual.  Ornate, simplistic.  Comfortable, but never too comfortable.  Like any Mama worth her beans, I am willing to suffer (a little bit) for beauty.  

This past spring on Supergirl’s picture day, I experienced the first gusts of these foul winds of change.  I was not attempting to put her into a frock of any sort (like all the other girls at her poshy posh preschool), in fact, I don’t like fancy frilly frivolous frocks.  My girls don’t even wear Easter dresses on Easter!  I was simply trying to get her out of her cargo pants for one day, so she wouldn’t look so danger-grrrrl – so street urchin chic in her picture.  All hell broke loose when I tried to cajole her into wearing a cute t-shirt and a comfy black Hardtail skirt.  This skirt is genius.  It’s tough looking and then it kicks it up with some ruffles . . . but tough ruffles.  She looked like herself – funky and unfussy, but she didn’t see it that way and ended up in a full fledged head under the pillow heavy drama weep fest.  I felt terrible, but it had gone too far for me to cave in.  Something had happened over the winter, right under my nose but unbeknownst to me:  Supergirl had gone uncontrovertably, irrevokably, tomboy on me.  Which is a nice way of saying that she’s dressing really really butch.  

Honestly, I love that she spends 30% of her day upside down and the other 70% swinging, biking, or kicking a soccer ball.  I love that she never went princessy on me.  That she scoffed at Barbie commercials and muttered: “that’s so lame” out of the side of her mouth with the disdainful nonchalance of a fourteen year old boy.  

Sure, part of me wants to yell (and did, in fact yell in a shamefully, hysterical falsetto): “you are so lucky you don’t have an Edina mom!  You are so lucky I don’t force you to wear dresses and ribbons everyday!”  Here’s the thing:  I feel like the leeway I give her to wear what she wants on a daily basis should be repaid with a reasonable degree of acquiescence when I do ask her to pull herself together in a different way.  Like on picture day.  

Or when our lovely neighbors, Red Vogue and Salt and Pepper Polymath, invited us over for dinner.  Supergirl is seriously like best friends with RV and SPP (together, the Onions, because the more you get to know them, the more there is to know, layers and layers of stories and talents, personality quirks and humor, easy, effortless kindness and deeply interesting loveliness.)  I simply wished to impart to Supergirl that it is common courtesy to make a bit of an effort when someone has been kind enough to welcome you into their home and cook for you with love.  That night was round two of our battle and I lost . . . big time.  Not only did she not wear a sundress (she was actually willing to miss out on root beer floats to prove her point), she went home and put on a pair of maple syrup stained mismatched boy pajamas half way through dinner.  Boy did she show me.  

And then I start to wonder: what is my problem with this?  Why do I care?  What does it say about me that this is even an issue?  Do I worry that how she dresses reflects on me?  Do I worry that this isn’t just a passing phase?  And what if it isn’t?  What’s wrong with dressing like a man?  Oh, who am I kidding????  A whole fucking hell of a lot!!!  Did I let this go too far?  Will she ever wear a skirt again?  And as with all my angst and worry, I quickly veer into crazy-talk quasi-prayer mode:  God, if she’s a lesbian, please let her be a lipstick lesbian so we can at least enjoy shopping together!!!

And then that little Frenchman with the butter soft leather kid gloves gives me a little slap slap slap and I come to my senses and realize this:  Supergirl is perfect the way she is and I would be infinitely more horrified if she wanted to teeter around in plastic platform Cinderella shoes.  She’s on the move and she runs with a pack of wild boys who have a few years on her.  She needs to be swift and cool to hang, or she will be left in the dust.  And so she has figured out what she needs for right now.  She plays up, she plays hard, and she plays to win.  If she needs armor for this, more power to her – at least she’s in the game. 

I just need to chill the hell out.

As for Devil Baby, you’ll be seeing her in nothing but skirts and sundresses every live long day until such time as she decides otherwise.  Maybe, just maybe, she’ll turn out to be my girlie girl.

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