He dressed himself

Jacob has a new skill. He can get ready for school BY HIMSELF. Almost every morning for the past month he has come into our bedroom fully dressed, ready to go. Ok, sometimes it's a little bit earlier than we would like, mainly because he thinks that being dressed completely ("To the shoes!") entitles him to go outside and knock on our neighbor's door to see if the boys there can play bikes. At 7:15am. Our neighbors like Jacob, but really, not that much. Anyway, I want to encourage this behavior (the independence, not the early rising. That I could seriously do without), which means that on more than one occasion, I've had to bite my tongue and let my kid wear what he picked out. And really, who wouldn't want to wear a Superman T-shirt with a striped shirt underneath with yellow batman shorts to preschool? Besides, the striped shirt has a pocket, and the Batman shorts and Superman shirt don't (I guess Superheros don't carry wallets or loose change all that much), so he puts the striped one on underneath so he can sneak his Star Wars guys into preschool in the breast pocket without the teacher noticing! See, stylish and practical. Of course the teacher won't notice the 4 guys stuffed into my pocket and falling out---they are COVERED by my SUPERMAN SHIRT! Anyway, my point is that I am totally ok with my kid lookin' a little lame now and then because I can just shrug and say, "He dressed himself." And all the mothers give me that little smile, and look at Jacob with his mismatched socks and shoes on the wrong feet and say, "Ah, yes. Of course". Plus, there is that extra added bonus on being able to blame it on the preschooler that really, there were no matching socks in the house because Momma is behind in the laundry. I'm ok with it when it's my 4 year old. Not so much when it's my husband. When it comes to how DH dresses, I can't let it go the same way I can with Jacob, I just can't. Our first year of marriage was frought with admonitions and exhortations from me along the lines of, "You can't wear those socks, they don't match", or "That tie just looks bad, honey", and "Those pants are wrinkled, we need to iron them." I'm really not that much of a nag when it comes to clothes, not being much of a clothes horse myself, but DH can't go to church wearing mismatched socks, he just can't! What kind of wife would I be if I allowed such a thing? We were discussing this issue with a friend of DH's, and frankly, he was appalled at my behavior. "You married a grown man, Heather. He is not your son, he is his own person. His wrinkled and dirty shirt do not reflect upon your wifely skills. They reflect his OWN slovenliness, and you need to let it go." DH, surprised to get some support, said, "Yeah. Yeah! Let it go, wouldja?" I have let up some in the intervening years of our marriage. But I find it ironic that I refuse to let my husband wear a T-shirt that says 'Commies aren't Cool' and has a picture of Che Guevara with a line through it in public, but I can let my son walk around wearing a blue duck towel on his head all day because he thinks it makes him look like a Jedi. For some reason, I am more concerned with my husband's grooming standards reflecting badly on me as a wife than I am about my son's grubbiness reflecting on me as a mother. Anybody else feel this way? I guess I should really just employ the same tactic I use with my son when I think my husband looks like a total goofbrain: Shrug and say, "Hey, he dressed himself."


Blogger oshee said...

When my second daughter was in preschool I used to for the most part dress herself. I just mostly made sure she was wearing weather appropriate clothing. One of the preschool teachers constantly was telling me how wonderful it was that I let her choose for herself. It was allowing her certain artistic expressions. THat she let her daughter do and her daughter is now a clothes designer.
That's all cool and all. But that isn't why I let her do it. She is my third kid, so by then I was much more relaxed about it. She is stubborn and headstrong and it just wasn't worth the debate to get her to change. And last..During that spring I was VERY pregnant and could have simply cared less. I thought I was doing well just to get there on time.

I enjoy your blog!

5/12/2006 02:27:00 AM  
Anonymous JKS said...

I let my kids dress themselves. I do have some rules. During the preschool years I'd say shorts only at home during the winter. Once they went to real school they had school clothes and I made them wear "outfits" of school clothes to school. They can wear whatever at home and other places.
Also, I tell them they can wear clothes for two days and then they can go in the laundry. Doesn't really work well for either kid. My daughter changes clothes 5 x a day, so who knows when things are dirty. My son wears his clothes 24/7 (not interested in pajamas) from bath to bath. So I figure if I bathe him every 2 days it works out.

5/12/2006 02:33:00 AM  
Blogger Mabel Maybe said...

Just thanks. That was a fun read.

Everyone knows a kid has his own opinions and is going through a stage when he's dressed unusually. But when we see your unmatched rumpled husband we might think...hmmm, she picked him.

I made a big family. I dress funky, my husband is rumpled, my kids follow odd sartorial impulses. Except for the one who dresses well, our own Marilyn Munster.

5/12/2006 03:13:00 AM  
Blogger dede said...

Just be careful, because if you "nag" too much he may start caring about what he does wear. And the next thing you know, he has more clothes than you and the big, burly men that are unpacking you during your last move will tease him relentlessly for having to have the bigger side of the closet.

It is nice going out with a man who knows how to dress though.

5/12/2006 08:02:00 AM  
Anonymous Mary said...

That is a great post! I can just picture your little guy in his mismatched outfits!

My dh does a pretty good job of dressing himself and when he's not sure, he asks if he looks okay. But then again, it seems like all of his clothes are about the same - khakis or jeans, plaid button up shirts or polos for work. Not too hard.

However, whenever it comes time for dressing dd, if DH is going to dress her, he can't seem to come up with anything on his own. He asks every time, "What do you want her to wear today?" and I'll say, "Whatever you choose." But I often end up having to pick something out for him to put on her. Seriously, all her stuff is pink, you can't go wrong!

5/12/2006 09:03:00 AM  
Blogger Tracy M said...

Jeffrey had the EXAXCT same outfit as Jacob!!!

And that Che shirt sounds way cool!

5/12/2006 11:04:00 AM  
Blogger annegb said...

I like guys sort of groady, if that's how you spell it. My husband spends more time primping than I do and lots more money on his clothes. It's rather off-putting.

I let my kids dress themselves, it's sort of precious. You know, how they go home and pick something out that doesn't match and come over for dinner with their husbands and I don't say anything because she's just so cute anyway.

5/12/2006 11:10:00 AM  
Blogger TftCarrie said...

Heather and all the moms that can let their children dress themselves - I think it's really great and it does give the child creative freedom and a chance to express themselves. But alas, I just can't do it. Not because I feel it it reflects badly upon me as a mother, but I feel it reflects badly upon me as a kids clothing designer. It would be like a hair stylist who has really bad hair. Can't do it. Luckily Princess hasn't been that particular and pretty much goes along with what I choose.

As for DH, I buy all his clothes for him so that helps me keep in control. And he is always asking me these two questions: "Does this tie go with this outfit" and "Should I iron this?". At one point I was actually thinking about polaroiding all the different shirt, tie, pant combinations that "work" to make a big poster for his closet. (that way he wouldn't have to ask me and making cohesive outfits would be really easy). I still might.

5/12/2006 12:50:00 PM  
Blogger Lacey said...

My husband is a collector of odd shirts, or shirts that make a statement. Before he went into the business world and was a student worker we had approved shirts and unapproved shirts. (One unapproved that he likes so much is this ugly tie-died hunter, lime, and any green color that should not bee seen together, shirt. It's cute because it's snug fitting but oh so ugly.)
Anyways I think it seems that a grown men should be able to dress themselves, so if they can't and they dress like our three year old with mismatched socks, it seems like we haven't helped them sufficiently as a wife. If they're single it's because they're single, if they're married, then the wife hasn't done her job.
Do you ever judge other husbands and think, "How could their wife let them leave the house in that?". I admit I do, so I try to help him look nice. My husband is pretty laid back and he knows it's just that I want him to look nice, so he doesn't get upset at my helping him dress. If we are going somewhere he usually asks if I have something in mind. Sometimes I say no, hoping he makes the right choice, and I have to help him still, but he knows and understands my wants. When I do say no sometimes he chooses something I don't like just so I'll correct him...but that's him saying if you had something in mind just tell me, don't play games and make me read your thoughts. I think he also likes my sigh and roll of the eyes I give him when he choices he wacky shirts.

Oh Mary,
With dressing my daughters, he always asks what I want them to wear. I can be picky, but it's like just make sure the pants match the top. Or that's is an appropriate Sunday dress. Though I do orchestrate what we're wearing as a family sometimes. He likes to let out nearly 3 year old daughter choose her own clothes just to see her dress wacky and let her have her own independence.

5/12/2006 03:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Nicki said...

Ha! That is so dang funny! I love that you try to dress your hubby. Mine has totally given up resisting. My 4 year old doesn't protest either. On Saturday night my husband always asks, "Did you pick out our clothes yet?". Victory, even after a long seven years, is sweet.

5/12/2006 07:29:00 PM  
Blogger Susan said...

You may be on to something bigger. Nate insisted on wearing Spiderman clothes (actually underoos) to pre-school. So what is the logic here? If you can't live with Nate's sense of style, then maybe you should insist that Jacob wear a suit and tie--or at least help him learn to iron!

(Or maybe the lesson is that it's all my fault. I'm the one who seems to be in to buying spiderman clothes for small boys. So maybe I'm the one you need to reform, not the poor guys. . . . .)

5/12/2006 08:43:00 PM  
Blogger a. nonny spouse said...

When I met my husband, he wore ratty dress pants and t-shirts that were ten years old every day. Why did he choose those two things to wear together? Well, why the heck not? Good heavens, it was bad.

This problem has been mostly solved by (a) graduating from college right after we got married and finding real jobs that required (b) more professional attire. So basically, I had to approve of everything he owns now before he bought it.

Now, all I have to do is whittle his immense t-shirt collection away. Shhhh. Don't tell him, but I take one shirt to DI each week!

5/13/2006 12:37:00 AM  
Blogger A. Nonny Mouse said...

That's it. I'm keeping my t-shirts under lock and key now.

I'm also writing a database program to keep them cataloged. And it will be password protected, and no, it's not a password you know. thank you very much.

5/13/2006 12:38:00 AM  
Blogger Jen said...

Really cute post, Heather!

It basically takes all of my time and mental energy to make myself and my two young boys look half-presentable that my DH is way on his own....although there were a couple of times at church .... especially when he was in the bishopric sitting up on the stand...that I winced at his choice of tie.

Luckily, he does a pretty good job dressing himself. If I bought his clothes, he would be a little trendier and more casual and less "preppy Ralph Lauren." I am on a silent campaign, however, to slowly rid his closet of his mock turtlenecks and hawaiian shirts.

5/14/2006 10:41:00 AM  
Blogger The Wiz said...

'Do you ever judge other husbands and think, "How could their wife let them leave the house in that?". I admit I do, so I try to help him look nice.'

Actually, it would never occur to me to think that. I didn't know other women did.

5/14/2006 02:26:00 PM  
Blogger Heather O. said...


You've never thought it because your husband would never go out in a "Commies Aren't Cool" t-shirt.

5/14/2006 06:25:00 PM  
Blogger Starfoxy said...

I know what you mean about how you feel that your husbands dress somehow reflects on you. My husband doesn't dress badly, (mostly because his wardrobe is ridiculously bland, everything matches!) but there is one thing that still worries me. I assigned him to write the thank you notes for our wedding to his family and friends. He said he'd do it, but it's been 2 years and I don't think it's happening. I worry that people will think that I'm a selfish jerk for not writing thank-you notes when really it's because my husband said he would and didn't. It stinks though, because people will (or do) think that it's me just because it's always women who write the thank you notes. So maybe you know deep down that people will judge your wifely-aptitude on how your husband looks because most other women take charge of their husband's wardrobe and won't let it go. I hate that it goes down like that. Durned if we do and durned if we don't.

5/15/2006 01:23:00 AM  

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