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A Uniform Solution

How to manage without a uniform

There are many life problems and concerns on which you don’t necessarily want advice.

People feel compelled to give you advice, particularly, it seems, on issues relating to pregnancy and child-rearing, but often you don’t actually need or want it.

Struggling with infertility? People will tell you to try acupuncture, to track ovulation, and of course to just relax!

Pregnant and dying from morning sickness that is in no way limited to the morning? Have you tried ginger? Saltines? Lemonade and potato chips?

If breastfeeding is challenging, friends will offer up foods that might help (oatmeal), beverages that might help (dark beer), supplements that might help (fenugreek), or alternative solutions that might help (have you heard of formula?).

When you’re trying to wean a baby off of a pacifier, when you’re trying to get a toddler to brush her teeth, when you’re dealing with your son’s night terrors – many times all you want is for people to be sympathetic, not to try to solve your problems by suggesting solutions that you’ve clearly already Googled and tried and rejected.

That said, sometimes one really does want advice, and this is the case now.

Since she started pre-K, Ruby has had a school uniform, and it was a welcome blessing after years spent fighting with her about what she’d wear to daycare.

Back in the daycare era, even when she and I would carefully pick out an outfit the night before, she would reject it the next morning. Tags, seams, embroidery, and any kind of fabric perceived to be scratchy were all taken as personal affronts and mightily protested.

On one occasion, fed up and pushed to my limit, I brought Ruby to daycare in her underwear with clothes in her backpack; she acquiesced and agreed to get dressed outside the gate.

Now she’s not 3 anymore, and she has grown out of many of these quirks. She’s still bothered by some things, but she’s learned tactics like undershirts or wearing her socks inside out, and at age 11, she now cares enough about being fashionable that she’ll tolerate a shirt with a badly placed seam if she thinks it’s cute enough.

But as she started sixth grade in the fall, she is no longer required to wear a school uniform. There’s a fairly strict dress code, but she’ll no longer be limited to khakis and a polo bearing the school logo.

I love that she’s celebrating this rite of passage, but I am baffled as to how to handle it. For years, she only wanted to wear dresses and shunned jeans because denim was Satan’s own fabric. This past year, however, she wears jeans almost every day. Who knows what next year will bring?

My gut instinct is to avoid turning this into a battle, to simply buy her a few pairs of jeans and a few colored polos and a handful of cute dresses with leggings to match and then let her pick her own outfits.

My past experience, though, leaves me wary, certain that if we don’t set some limits and plan in advance, we’ll end up late for school every morning.

I’ve seen aspirational posts about “outfit prep,” which is like meal prep, which something else I always want to do and never actually successfully execute.

Complicating everything, of course, is the once-a-month dress-up day, the Student Council-sponsored theme Fridays, the game days she has to wear her cheerleading uniform – I start to worry that we’re going to be back in the dark days of 2010, except that I can’t pick her up and strap her in her car seat in her Bubble Guppies panties anymore.


Excerpted from Eve Crawford Peyton’s blog, Joie d’Eve,  which appears each Friday on MyNewOrleans.com

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