My love/hate relationship with fancy dress

12 June 2015

Dear friend,

Pre kids I had set ideas about what I would or wouldn't allow. I was also a teacher so I thought I was the authority on kids. Ha! I admit it, I was that bitchy, childless person who thought they knew how to do it better. No way would I let my children play computers all day, watch Bob the Builder on repeat, eat the same crap food every meal or dress up in cheap costumes. Oh no. My kids would be perfectly coordinated down to their socks. How stupid was I? (A fact my own mother takes great pleasure in reminding me of.) So what is it about our own kids that turns us into hypocrites?

Hubby and I were united in our hatred of dressing up costumes. Pre kids, we had agreed that no child of ours would ever be seen wearing, a ridiculous costume inside or outside of the house. The Dutch have a saying, "doe normaal" be normal. They use this a lot. Children are encouraged to fit in. I was a dressing up snob. The cheap, synthetic material they are made from set my teeth on edge. They are poorly made and end up unravelling at the seems. Let's not forget that half of them are never cleaned through fear of damage so your kid ends up smelling like a jumble sale. How do you wash something with a head attached?

Little man's first outfit was for a school dress up day. He wanted to be a tiger so we found a super cute costume in a party shop that had semi decent material. As soon as he put it on I fell in love, he looked amazingly cute. Hubby was less happy but went with it (just for the school party) but what we didn't realise was, we had created a dress up monster. He wanted to wear it all the time...




The little man would crawl around the house making tiger noises. He wanted it on as soon as he woke up and would have even worn it for bed if he could have got away with it. The cuteness soon wore off, especially when he needed help going to the loo every 5 minutes. But he was so happy and he loved it so much that when he grew too tall, I unpicked and restitched the legs and he wore it as a sort of jacket.
At Christmas the supermarket was selling a reindeer outfit. We said no. Every time we went shopping he stood looking at the shelves where they were displayed with such a sad face. I made excuses, maybe father Christmas would bring it, not today mummy has no pennies left, Daddy said no (pass on the blame) they don't have your size. Eventually I gave in! (It was on sale.) He was so happy he walked around the supermarket with it showing everyone what he was getting.

Our reindeer.
What was I doing? I don't like dress up outfits. Why was I giving in? I was allowing myself to be emotionally blackmailed by a 5 year old!


Why does any parent give in to their children?


We want them to be happy. OK wearing a reindeer costume may not be my idea of fun but for little man it is pure bliss. (Just Look at that face.) He loved it! We had to take photos and Skype Grandma and Grandad. Everyone had to see.



At least this one was seasonal (we could put it away after Christmas).


Next the little man asked for a Pikachu dress up outfit for his birthday (in February). I managed to find one on line and we had it delivered to the UK just in time. He loved it and wore it almost the whole time we were there. When we got home the tail was hanging off and the stitching was unravelling in several places. It took ages to repair. Little man really wanted to wear it for school but I drew the line there. I promised that he could wear it for teacher day (when everyone dresses up).

Why was I being such a dress up snob? I believe it is my need to control everything and also perhaps a touch of narcissism because who really cares how a 6 year old dresses? He isn't doing any harm. Doesn't every child go through this phase?

Actually no! Autistic children can find some types of play difficult. Big lad's play was always quite limited and repetitive. He rarely engaged in pretend or role play and when he did it usually involved acting out Thomas episodes (almost word for word) with his trains. Little man has always had a fantastic imagination but recently I have been concerned that his play is becoming more narrow. Is this as a result of imitating his older sibling or is it just that he is maturing and becoming more interested in computer games? I don't know. Perhaps, this is why I am overcompensating with the Fancy dress outfits. But am I trying to extend his play experiences or am I simply clinging on to my baby?



Would you bloody believe it? Teacher day fell on the hottest day of the year so far (30 degrees).

Hubby wanted him to wear something cooler and most of his friends were wearing football strips so he tried to persuade him to wear his Ajax strip.

I got on my soapbox; Why should he follow the crowd and wear a football strip? It's OK to be different. What message are we giving him if we make him be the same as everyone else? I had promised he could wear it and I wasn't going to go back on that promise now. Every week he had asked, Is it teacher day this week? (In child time he had been waiting forever.)

A very happy but very sweaty boy practically bounced to school dressed as Pikachu. There were a few sidewards glances from mums who obviously thought I was totally crazy and comments about him being warm. But who cares. According to the little man, it was the best day ever!

I no longer see fancy dress costumes as my parenting failure, as giving in to my child's wants. I have learnt to accept and love what they mean to the little man and to see them as supporting and developing his social needs.

He has asked for a dog costume next, let's see...

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