Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Dirty Little Secret #41

I made a dress for Lizzy today.

It isn’t the first dress hand-crafted for the girl who refused to wear them between the ages of eighteen months and four years. I made a few sweet things for her when she was a baby, before she could argue with me about what she would or would not wear. As she grew older, and more willful, she became the anti-clotheshorse.

I delighted in it.

There were occasions when it was necessary to haul out the dress and tights – her Uncle’s wedding, her grandfather’s building dedication. But on the whole, I was thrilled to have an un-girly girl. She was happy in sweat pants, “bouncy pants” she called them. The parents of other three year old girls would tell me all about how their girls had to have dresses, and princess clothes. But oh no, not my girl. Not my in-it-for-the-comfort, oh-so-ungirly girl.

It fit in with my idea that I would raise a strong girl. Not the one who curled her hair for an hour before heading to high school. Not the girl who checked her makeup twice before leaving the house. Not the girl who worried about how she looked before she worried about how she felt. Not the girl I was, before I learned to shake off my insecurities like so many raindrops.

She started asking for the occasional dress around her fourth birthday. No tights, though. So we did dresses with pants, and I started sewing for her again. First there was the dress for “orange day” at school. She was crushed because she had no orange in her wardrobe. As I wiped away her tears, I remembered that I had a few yards of orange fabric in my stash. She grew animated when I told her that I could maybe make her some orange clothes.

“A dress, Mommy. With pants. And stripes. And maybe the pink fabric in it too, with my name on it. And my name on the pants, too.”

I stayed up until 3 am finishing it.

Then there was the special blue dress that she needed for a birthday party. And the dress for Valentine’s day. And the pants to wear under the dress bought for the last day of school. Isn’t the budding fashion designer lucky to have a personal seamstress who functions well on minimal sleep?

Now she is almost five. Every time I look in her closet, there are more dresses. And the tights – somehow this child now loves the invention designed to torture women worldwide. There are sparkly tights and stripey tights and cabled tights.

And black footless tights with silver stars.

When we went to J.C. Penney’s for socks two weeks ago, she happened upon these beauties. It was immediately obvious to her that she needed a dress to match. “Mommy, I need a dress with stars!” So we searched the mall and came up empty-handed. I promised that I would make her something.

Today she pulled the tights from the drawer. “Ummmm, Mommy? Where’s my dress?”

Dress? There is no dress. There are meals to make and floors to wash and classes to chauffer to and gifts for other people’s babies to make, so there is no dress with stars on it to match your black footless tights with the silver stars.

There were tears. And refusals to get dressed.

I laid out some alternatives on the floor and asked her to think about what she wanted to do. I left the room and sat down in my office across the hall. I chatted with Amy, and idly pawed through the still-unpacked box of fabric. I found a hunk of navy blue with white stars and a pair of cast-off overalls. A jumper with a skirt wouldn’t be too hard, I thought.

Lizzy agreed that it was exactly the most perfect wonderful idea ever. Oh, and could I add the extra sparkly pink tulle left over from her Halloween costume? So it would match with her pink sparkly belt, headband, and shoes?

So I made a dress for Lizzy today.

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