The first time when your children learn to dress themselves is a pretty special moment. No, I don’t mean when they’re able to manipulate little buttons into buttonholes, or pull up a zipper, or tie a bow. True, those are important life-skills that should be mastered, and they’re noteworthy, but they don’t quite make this list. What I really mean is when they’re able to actually dress themselves in an outfit that doesn’t look like it was put together by a colour-blind, time-pressed clown who happened to reach randomly into four suitcases picked up at the airport carousel.
I’m afraid to say that gender expectations come into play here, because we always expected that our Girl would know how to dress herself quite stylishly from a young age. But with the Boy, it was never a given (see side-photo). And yet, he was so independent and eager, we didn’t have the heart to deny him the obvious pleasure that he took in choosing his own outfits every day. So it was a pretty special moment the first time he came down smartly dressed, all done by himself, and was quite (rightly) proud of it. He asked “So, do you like my outfit today?” And indeed, it was a pretty cool outfit. I’m afraid that we don’t remember exactly what it was, but more what it wasn’t. And it wasn’t an orange striped turtleneck with blue airplane shorts, over a pair of white-and-blue-striped tights and black Spiderman socks.