I love those heartfelt chats with my momma friends when we admit we had so many ideas on the things we would “never” do or allow as parents… and we absolutely do or allow them now that we are in the trenches. My list: I would “never let them wear dirty clothes.” I would “never let them go out with uncombed hair.” Or the kicker… “they will wear cute, stylish clothes for church and school.” (Insert older, wiser, empathetic mommas patting me on the shoulder and lovingly saying, oh honey.) Initially, I totally felt in control of the clothes thing (oh, the deceit of first babies is so real, y’all). My oldest donned skinny jeans, converse, and graphic tees to my little heart’s desires. He looked SO cute I died. Then my sweet, bubbly baby turned into a strong-willed toddler, and I got schooled. like hard.
Please note the cute outfit- this was pre-opinions on pants.
It started out with absolutely no jeans. I humbly admit bribery, coercion, and down right begging to get him in a pair of nice pants for like Christmas or family pictures. Any regular day it was absolutely not worth the battle. So as a compromise we filled his closet with with stretchy waists but still “pant-like” material (technical fabrication term there). Then he discovered sweatpants, and all bets were off. He lovingly referred to them as his “soft pants” as he stroked his fleecy legs. Any pants that weren’t soft and stretchy were simply out of the question. If there are any naysayers out there, please try to wrestle a pair of jeans on a 3 year old who is objecting and then tell me you haven’t lost your mind and walked the line of child abuse.
As if that wasn’t enough to drive my perfectionistic eye nuts, then came the battle over putting on said soft pants each morning. He became obsessed with PJs… because what’s softer than sweatpants? PJs are, that’s what. Y’all, my kid loves PJs so much he names them. He’s wearing “Chester” in the title pic. There was a day I dropped him at preschool with no shoes and just PJs on when it was 40 degrees out bc I couldn’t convince him to put anything reasonable on, and I refused to fight. (don’t worry I left warmer options and shoes with his teacher, and he of course got dressed for her, no problem). We have been to church, school, and stores in PJs, and a little part of my pride dies with each trip.
The confusing bit is, (or not so, when you consider this is all one big power play) he also doesn’t want to put his PJs on at night (when we have, of course, convinced him to actually get dressed for that day). He doesn’t want to get dressed, he doesn’t want to put his PJs on, and he doesn’t want to be naked… yeah… you can see the pickle this leaves us in every. single. day.
As the “good” parents we are, and being faced with such a ludicrous (although common) battle, we had to outsource. We read books (Love and Logic – just read it, people), listened to podcasts, consulted experienced parents, and watched webinars. (This was after the losing our cool, ignoring, and fighting didn’t work, of course). Some tactics we picked up along the way have helped. We find if he’s overstimulated or overtired its always worse (duh). Sometimes picking out his clothes for the day the night before helps but not always. The best thing we have done for all of us in the PJ war is change our perspective on the whole thing.
How we (the parents) deal is the deciding factor of if it goes to crazy town or not. I mean, he can go to crazy town, but we do not have to get on that train. I would love to tell you that all of this has cured him and he willingly gets dressed everyday now… HA. Turns out, even when we are equipped with all the right tools, he can still refuse to get dressed. Isn’t that just the swellest part of parenting – the free will of the children? I definitely thought if we were dealing with it the “right” way, he would stop the behavior pretty quickly. Right? Super discipline mom! HA. He has a stubborn dramatic streak (don’t look at me), and he’s just not that easy.
We are starting to see the light, but I don’t see jeans in his future anytime soon. But THAT’s ok. What’s not ok is being disrespectful, rude, ungrateful, or disobedient. We are focusing on those things as they are wrapped and rooted in the getting dressed thing, instead of the clothes.
I, for one, am thankful to be standing in the good company of all parents who have had a child that wanted to do things their own way. We are bruised, battered, and weary- but stronger, oh so humbled, and schooled on what’s truly important- and it’s all thanks to these little humans and their opinions on pants.