Today was Jack's first ever school picture day. I had big plans for what Jack would wear today. I even gave him choices. My three options were: 1) a sweater, 2) a button up shirt or 3) a button up shirt with a sweater vest. All three would have made for a picture the grandmothers would love.
Of course, I was running late this morning and needed to rush everyone to get dressed. However, I took a minute to lay out his three options. Then in my very motherly voice I threw out some Love and Logic. "Jack," I said, "which outfit do you want to wear for picture day?"
Jack very seriously replied, "Why do you want me to dress like an old man for picture day?"
In that moment all my stress vanished and I fell over laughing. Where does this kid get this stuff?
In the end Jack wore his NC State basketball jersey given to him by my brother. And he insisted that soft blanket and big dog ride to school with us.
This moment with Jack reminded me of a conversation with a dear friend a few years back before kids. We were talking about kid's fashion and how we would like to dress our future children. She said that she really didn't want her kid to wear cartoon characters and things like that. I jokingly responded that her kid would be the guy wearing Micky Mouse on his shirt when he was forty.
And now that I have a kid he wears Elmo, monster trucks and soccer balls on almost all of his shirts. And hopefully that freedom will teach him that I respect him enough to let him make his own choices now on the little things, so that he will trust himself enough later to make smart choices on the big things.
I think much of parenting is about picking battles. Did it matter what Jack wore for his photo? I thought it did. Really, this was important enough to me to pick out three outfits. But what I realized is that in 20 years when I am sitting in Jack's empty bedroom looking at his preschool picture I would rather smile at my little guy in his jersey with messed up hair than remember a fight over a darn school picture. That is my Jack at three and a half. He loves ball and trucks and wants to be a firefighter or garbage truck driver when he grows up. Sweet innocent boy. Oh how I love you.