First take my hand, then let it go
Little Boy Blue, you’re on your own-Patti Smith, “The Jackson Song”
I used to sing this song to Aiden as a baby, and each time I’d choke out the words, mostly because I couldn’t actually envision a time when I would have to let go. They’re just babies, after all. And though he’s six, it’s time for me to admit that I have to start doing just this. I mean, as much as I enjoy a moment when I can hold a phone in one hand and a glass of wine in the other, it’s hard to swallow the fact that Aiden has this whole little life in a world that he functions in without me. Yes, it can be inconvenient to zip the jacket, open the Gogurt, or turn on the water faucet, but now that he’s not calling out “Mama!” for help with every little thing, I suddenly feel less…needed.
And this is hard for a woman that likes to be in control of things. The “made” bed that clearly has a lopsided quilt, the hairdo that he “just likes straight down,” even though it gets in his eyes, the water all over the floor because he “wanted to pour it himself”–these are all areas of control I’ve had to let go of. And now that he’s in first grade, this has bled into a somewhat dreaded area: I’ve let him start picking out his own clothes.
It started small, just with a “you have two options,” kind of thing, but soon it grew to the point where he is fully choosing the entire ensemble and getting dressed independently while I’m off making breakfast or something. And the results have been mixed, from a fashion perspective. He’s now sporting dinosaur T-shirts every single day, in spite of the non-dino options available, and only occasionally piecing together a top and bottom that I would call “matching.” There are times that I cringe when he comes out of the bedroom, but he does so with a smile and a clear sense of accomplishment so precious, I can only say, “Great choices, buddy.”
And so I have the kid that bounces off to school in September wearing a green shirt and red shorts, looking like a Jurassic-themed Christmas tree, but it’s all good. I could subtly suggest other options, sure, to help him seem a little more put-together, but then I think of the wise words Erinn once told me. Her [brilliant, fun, awesome, bad-ass] mom let her pick out her own clothes when she was young, and she credits this as the foundation of her interest in fashion. And I do want Aiden to develop his own sense of style, to trust his instincts, and to take interest in the things he wears as a means of self-expression. So I’m letting go.
That choice made it’s way into one of the fashion choices I NEVER thought I’d leave up to the kids: the annual family photo shoot. I love a good photo shoot and spend hours painstakingly choosing a color scheme that will feel fresh and interesting (see posts here and here). But after Charlotte had a massive meltdown over trying on the super-cute and fashion-y jumpsuit I picked out for her, I knew I had to start over. I started dragging things out of her closet that could potentially fit in with the outfits I’d already picked out for Dave and me, and then dove into Aiden’s closet to do the same to see if I could salvage this turn of events. They both happened to wander into this frenzy of a fashion show, when I heard Aiden say, “I want the dinosaur shirt” and Charlotte exclaim, “kitty!” I froze. Crap. They’re not supposed to get a choice in this. The dinosaur and the kitty? Seriously? We’re going to be the dinosaur/kitty family of 2019? But they clambered over to me, both already tearing off their jammies to try on their outfits of choice.
At that moment, I knew the fight wouldn’t be worth it. I let go. I let them pick.
And the pics are awesome.