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Saturday, October 3, 2015

The Fashionista

I have a story I have been saving up.  Here's to hoping the months that separate today from the actual events have dulled the humiliation.

One can hope.

To give the proper context, first you must understand the degree to which our oldest daughter requires autonomy in all matter of clothing.  From the time she was three she was insistent, to the point of tears, about what she put on her body.  We went through a year and a half stage where she only wore dresses.  And by dresses, I mean petticoat dresses.  She went to preschool in flower-girl-eque dresses, no matter the rain, the snow, the messy art project or the trip to the local farm.

Sledding day?  No problem. Tulle and silk can compress down into the forgiving legs of snow pants with just a small amount of effort.   And velour half shirts are surprisingly warm in a Maine winter.

When our younger, more sporty, daughter turned three and we opened up the totes of hand-me-down 3T clothes from her big sister, we sighed and remarked, "Ah, yes.  The dress phase," and we headed for the mall to get jeans and sweatshirts.

The summer Ella was three, we had purchased a yellow sundress from a friend's store and Ella fell in love with it.  She called it her "Twirly Dress" and she wore it at least 5 times a week.  My friend Emilie called it her summer uniform.  The summer she was four, we went back and bought another one in blue.

Year two, second string twirly dress. 
The original twirly dress.  

Come to think of it, age five, saw twirly dress number three.

And year three.

Dresses, dresses and more dresses....

Eclectic footwear was often roped into the game.

There was a lot of letting go about Ella's wardrobe as you can imagine.  I struggled to let her out of the house many days until a mom friend of mine said, "No one thinks you dressed her like that."  That was all I needed to make peace with it.

Anyone who knew Ella in these younger years can recount the specificity and eccentricity of her dress.   Dresses gave way to "fancy" clothes, matching sets and two piece shirts (the ones connected by thread at the top of the shoulder that get all twisted and inside out in the washer and make mothers lose days off their lives each time it comes through the laundry) with elaborate beadwork on the inside and a sheer, draping fabric on the outside.

Yes, my five-year-old needed to have her clothes washed on the delicate cycle.

In addition to being particular about the style of clothing she would wear, Ella has always been very specific about which items she would wear when.   Often she would want to wear an item that was still dirty or dream up a sweater that was in winter storage and feel an urgent need to wear it that day when we needed to leave for school in ten minutes.

Sometimes Ella would come downstairs in tears telling me that she just couldn't pick out her clothes.  Could I please, pretty please, pick out something for her?  I would fall for the trap, yet again, and head up to the wardrobe of my fashionista and pull together some things I thought would look cute together.

Approximately 98% of the time, she would look at my selection in disgust and say, "I cannot wear THAT."  She was six at the time.

Eventually I stopped falling for the rouse.  I also got tired of the power struggle of having my child come down in a tank top in February, fleece in August and insisting that the skirt "still fit" even though it wore more like a tutu. I was tired of the yelling and the crying.

We made two clothes rules:

1.  It has to fit.

2.  It has to be appropriate for the weather.

Fast forward a few years.  Ella has become much more mainstream about her clothing choices but still retains a wonderful flair to her dress.  She is, without a doubt, legitimately fashionable.  Her aunt, also a risky dresser, consults Ella for fashion opinions.

Last winter when we pulled out the totes of warm clothes, Ella was thrilled to see a pair of footed pjs from the previous year to which Maya had an identical pair.  If you have ever had the joyful task of being in charge of kids' clothes from season to season and size to size, you likely agree that it would be more fun to have a root canal.

The footed pjs, with their fuzzy little snowman, looked, shall we say, a tad stretched.  They wore more like spandex.  And instead of being cozy up around the neck, it stretched tight like a muscle shirt, exposing her collarbones.

We gently said, "Honey, those look a little too tight."

"NO!  These fit just fine.  I love them.  They are perfect," was the expected reply.

We let her wear them.  Pick your battles, as the age-old wisdom says.

Life went on.  We forgot about the inappropriately sized pajamas.

In the midst of the holiday clamor and ruckus that is December, Ella woke up one night with a painful throbbing in her toe.  Her toe was hot and red and the pain was significant enough to cause tears and sleeplessness.  Can children get gout we wondered?  We gave the requisite children's pain relievers and put her back to bed.

Her foot was mostly okay the next day but the pain woke her again the following night and the night after that.  This seemed to warrant a call to the pediatrician.  I took her in and our lovely pediatrician examined her toe, told me kids do not in fact get gout, asked a bunch of questions about Ella's activities as of late.  Had she banged it?  Stubbed it?  Fallen down?  Eventually the pediatrician turned to me and said she was concerned because of the location of the pain being in the toe knuckle (is there such a term?) and that fact that it was waking her up at night.

Tests were ordered, labs and x-ray.  Being the stellar mom that I am, I was aware that it was December and that this flurry of medical testing would both not be paid for by our insurance because we hadn't met our deductible for the year and would not apply to our deductible for the following year which was only a few short weeks away.

So I asked the question every star parent asks:  "Are you sure this is really necessary?"

The doctor's concerns were of a bone infection. Yes, this was necessary.  Since she is never one to jump the gun or cause unnecessary alarm, I nodded and proceeded to imaging and the lab.

I waited with anxious mom nerves for the test results and I think the prayer chain at Sandi's family church may even have been activated.  Bone infection?  Bone cancer?

But alas,  the problem was more close to home.  It turns out your doctor can't fully assess the situation without all of the pertinent details.

Ella's toe was fine and her labs were perfect.   Naturally, we were relieved it was nothing serious.

That night, as the kids were getting into bed, Ella in her trusty, spandex footed pjs,  complained, "My toe still hurts."

My wife, Sandi, looked at me with a stunned expression on her face.  "It is the footed pajamas,"  she said calmly.  "They are too tight and they are causing her toe to hurt.  We just spent $600 on medical tests because of pajamas that are too tight."

Yes, you heard it here.  Our child's profound dedication to fashion freedom cost us $600 out of pocket. 

I marched up to Target the next day and bought her a pair of footed pjs so big the feet pool like puddles on the floor.  And I can promise that the next time a random ache or pain presents itself, I will consider the clothes in my first line of questioning.

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