Even after she could dress herself, Natalie happily wore whatever I laid out for her. I would find a cute outfit, hold it up for her approval and she would obligingly shrug, "Sure, Mom. If you like it."
It's a good place to be, as a mom.
No battles over clothing. No refusal to wear what I buy. No "I don't like that color" or "This tag is itchy" or "I don't wear plaid." I was free to indulge my own whims, choose whatever I thought was cute.
Last week, I bought an outfit for for Natalie at Gymboree, one of my all-time favorite kids' clothing stores. At 11, Natalie has almost sized out of Gymboree clothes. But when I saw this shirt-and-jeans combo, it was so sunny and cheerful, I immediately thought of her.
I bought it, brought it home and showed it to her as soon as she get home from school.
"What do you think?" I asked, expectantly.
She grimaced ever so slightly. "It's cute, Mom. But it's not really me."
And I saw, in an instant, she was right.
That outfit is not right for a sixth-grader, especially not a sporty, tomboy sixth grader who would rather climb a tree or read a book than worry about looking cute.
Natalie is growing into herself. She's learning who she is - and who she's not. And naturally, that trickles down into what she wears. She's spurned my suggestions to wear boots, claiming only girls who care about boys wear boots. She's decided skirts aren't practical for school; how can one do flips on the monkey bars with a skirt? And she's adamant she wants her hair long and straight, for no discernible reason.
That's not to say Natalie doesn't care how she looks. She dresses in fun jeans and t-shirts most days, and she is thrilled when I buy her anything purple (her favorite color) or anything with a touch of glitter. She jumps on any opportunity to get a pedicure, and she is growing more conscious every day of her reflection in the mirror.
If fashion is defined as what you wear reflecting who you are, then it's time for a fashion update.
Natalie is not a little girl anymore. But she's tuned in to who she's becoming, and she likes herself.
It's a good start for style.
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