Children are inherently tacky. If you are thinking, “MY children aren’t tacky. They have impeccable taste in everything,” please stop reading my blog and go back to Pinterent.
The truth is that when left to make their own choices about fashion, they come up with some pretty odd combinations: tutus and combat boots, plaid with polka-dots, socks with sandals and so on. And there is nothing wrong with that. I know a few homeschoolers who dress in Halloween costumes and bathing suits year round, and I’ve seen kids wear super-hero capes and bedroom slippers to church.
I figure that most parents give and receive the same great advice at some point—Choose your battles. And honestly, if your child is a kind human-being who is treating other people with respect, I don’t really care what they are wearing. You have chosen your battles well.
I try not to play fashion-police with my own children, and so far, clothes haven’t been a real issue for us. My daughter wears what I lay out for her—even on weekends. She’s just not that into clothes and when I don’t select an outfit for her, she stays in her pajamas and uses, “But you didn’t pick my clothes for me yet” as her excuse. It’s kind of surprising coming from an otherwise independent spirit.
My son, however, does want to choose his clothes and he has definite opinions. He likes shirts with stripes or dogs. He wears jeans, not sweatpants. Socks must be the same color as his shirt. Sweaters must be soft, and he prefers boots—even in the summer. In general, he’s picky about his clothes, but he is also very conservative, too.
So, it is curious to me that décor is a battleground issue for us. You see, my son wants a “bedroom make-over” for his birthday, and before you think that it is an odd request for a four-year-old, you should know that his sister got one for her birthday. I needed to replace the curtains in her bedroom and so I did. I also hung pictures and rearranged her furniture. Since I had to move all that stuff, I vacuumed, dusted, and sorted toys and books. I bought ladybug decals and decorated her walls and closet door. She loved it! She was especially excited about the pink curtains.
Pink curtains. Deep sigh. I hate them. I don’t have anything against pink, for the most part. I’m just not crazy about it as décor. In fact, when purchasing these curtains, I really wanted to buy blue. Her walls are yellow. Her bedspread is purple, and these colors are tied together by the floral design on her rug—it’s off-white with purple, yellow, pink, light brown, and blue. She also has a large blue, hand-crafted butterfly kite over her bed, and most of the artwork has a mixture of deep purples, blues, and pinks with some other colors mixed in. The curtains I was replacing were a dark blue and while the color was fine, they didn’t really fit the windows right. I had purchased them nine years ago for the living room in my apartment, and so, they never really looked right in her room.
So, I wanted blue, but I bought pink because I knew she would like them. “It’s her room,” I rationalized. “Give her what you know she would like.” And in the end, the pink was a smart choice. She loves them, and I don’t hate them as much as I thought I would.
Now, my son wants a bedroom make-over as a “surprise.” His sister was truly surprised when she came home to a new room, but he is not only requesting a make-over, he has told me what he wants—specifically. He wants blue curtains, light blue.
Hmmm, I was planning to go with red or dark blue because his walls are light blue and I feel like we need some contrast. Also, any light-blue curtains I can just buy at Target are probably going to clash with the wall color. I suppose a more motivated mom might paint the walls. I’m not that mom.
So, here’s the dilemma: Do I go with what I know he wants versus what I think will look good? That’s what I did for his sister, but at least the pink with the yellow walls creates some contrast. Is this a battle I should choose? I mean, if he wanted to wear to clashing blues, I’d let him. I’d be okay with that, but we don’t change curtains as often as we change clothes. Whatever I buy, we are stuck with for a long time.
I had a similar inner-battle over his birthday party theme. We’ve rented the party room at a nature center, a place he loves, and I figured we would buy animal paper plates, an animal piñata, and do some sort of animal-themed game. He loves animals and so, this is perfect, right?
“Mom, I want a rocket piñata.”
“A rocket? But your party is at the nature center.”
“Yep, I want a rocket piñata.”
“Wouldn’t you rather have a nature-themed piñata? An animal, maybe?”
“No. I like rocket piñatas.”
Side note about the piñata obsession: I’m responsible for that. I bought one for my daughter’s second birthday and they have been the consistent birthday party fixture for us ever since. I think I could forget the cake and my children would be fine with that, but until they have beaten the hell out of a paper sculpture and sprayed the floor with candy, it isn’t a party, and choosing the perfect piñata is always a big deal to them. Last year, my son had a shark piñata. We got two years of parties out of my daughter’s Scooby-do piñata. And yes, I realize this is such a first-world problem. Please don’t comment on how spoiled my kids are. Thank you.
If left to do his own party-planning, my son would still hold this party at the nature center, but he would eat Toy Story-themed cake served on St. Patrick’s Day plates, and break open a rocket piñata before stuffing candy into Cars-themed bags. The table cloth might feature Dora the Explorer or jack-o-lanterns or kittens and puppies, but I’m somewhat certain that they wouldn’t match the napkins. Why? Because he is a child and despite his need for his socks to coordinate with his shirt, he is inherently tacky.
The rocket piñata request had me wondering how other parents do it. When I worked at the aviation museum, almost every child’s birthday party we hosted had an aviation theme. Some parents even cut the sandwiches into the shape of little, tiny airplanes and made invitations that looked like boarding passes. Kids never noticed, but all the other adults were impressed.
Still, I decided that it’s not about impressing other grown-ups. It’s about kids—in particular the birthday child—having fun. It’s his party and so, what he wants, goes—within a reasonable budget, of course. I will put my desire for cute kid-party aside and go with tacky. This is what I told myself.
And what did he choose? Solid blue plates and napkins, dessert-themed animals as cupcake toppers, and a turtle piñata. Turtle! Turtle piñata! Turtle—like the animals at the nature center, not cartoon, crime-fighting, pizza-eating turtles! A victory without a battle!
Okay, so back to the curtains. I think I’m going to have to go with what I want on this one. I’ll also surprise him with a Batman poster or maybe a rocket decals—something I know he will like.