It’s spring, almost summer, and the weather is heating up. I’m tremendously excited about that, because I love wearing shorts, a lot. Plus, I’ve acquired due to my loving wife not one, but TWO pairs of the next level of shorts: sweatpant shorts. Life is good.
For the kids, this is exciting too. Baby Jacob, nearing his first birthday, seems thrilled to wear some shorts, or even forego any leg coverage on his delicious little roly poly thighs. I’m happy to oblige.
Five year old Olivia is…another story. Despite sharing the same Viking blood that causes her dad to consider a sunny 55 degrees perfect shorts weather, she’s not so into shorts. Which is a shame because Kate has bought her some adorable shorts.
Not only that, but due to the wonderful combined chromosomal combination of me and Kate, she looks absolutely adorable in a pair of shorts. This is a completely unbiased Dad Stuff opinion.
Last week she put on some shorts to rapturous compliments from her parents. Her face formed a frown. She did not want to wear them. Kate, having bought the shorts, had considerably more emotion invested in Olivia actually, y’know, wearing the shorts.
Lest you think the rest of this post paints me as the hero of our family, I’ll add that Kate buys ALL the clothes for all of our family. I haven’t been clothes shopping by myself in over a decade.
Anyway, Olivia began crying and hiding in her room.
I had to dad-tervene. As usual, I did not bluster in the room to say “YOU’RE BEING RIDICULOUS JUST WEAR THE SHORTS”. I asked her what was wrong.
“I DON’T WANT TO WEAR THEM. THEY’RE UNCOMFORTABLE!” she boomed.
“I get that you don’t want to wear them” I replied in my best calm dad voice. We hugged. She repeated herself maybe 9-10 times, and I repeated myself all the same. She was suddenly not crying.
She picked up a skirt. She asked if she could put it on over the shorts. I said yes. She put them on and happily skipped off to school.
Now I suppose there are some who think I am weak for “giving in” on this particular issue to the capricious demands of a five year old. I guess you’re entitled to that.
For me, I saw it as an opportunity to have an important discussion with my daughter about what she wore. Later that day, I told her that it was really important to me that she was comfortable in what she put on. I expanded that to a notion that people in general should be comfortable in what they wear.
I wanted to bridge it that way because Olivia has started more and more to assign clothes/appearance to a particular gender. She points out when boys have “long hair” and I gently remind her that boys can have long hair. She thought she saw a man wearing a skirt (turns out she had misgendered a woman) and pointed that out. I gently reminded her that men can wear skirts.
Perhaps nothing sparked a better discussion than watching the current season of Queer Eye. Perhaps her favorite host is Jonathan Van Ness. His appearance drew a lot of questions from her. Why does he have a beard AND long hair. When she saw his shoes she chuckled loudly. He has heels on!
Kate and I told her that was what Jonathan was comfortable wearing, and to respect that. There are no hard and fast rules about what you “should” be comfortable wearing. She seemed to accept it, actually. Who knew a show about makeovers could be so educational?