Saturday, August 22, 2009

About playing dressup.

I have a vivid memory regarding that. I was probably about 4 - I see these images and know how I felt - I think the feeling is very young and the visual perspective is out of probably 4 year old eyes - maybe nearing 5 but no older. I wanted to play dressup - so I remember walking through the den, through the kitchen, to the back/side screen door. I knew Mother was out on the back "stoop" doing something. Her back is to me and she is kneeling down doing something - in task mode. And I say, casually, hopefully, "Mother, can I get out the dressup clothes?" That would refer to about 3 outfits Mary Ann and I had - a stash of old dressy dresses - childsize evening wear - probably from former plays, events - perhaps dance recitals that Mary Ann had been in - (Mom never enrolled me in dance classes - only Mary Ann - who never enjoyed the stage - but I LOVED the stage as a child - give me the spotlights, the footlights, the applause and laughter of the crowd - I loved it)

Anyway, I submitted my request to Mom - who answered "No, not now". I started with a slight whine of a "Please" and she said "No", again. I got whinier and begged harder and asked why - to which she probably just answered that she didn't want to get all of that out right then. I think I remember something like that. What I really remember is how frustrated and mad I was on the inside. I also never recall her stopping her task to turn around and answer - she continued what she was doing and I continued to beg through the screen door - getting angrier and knowing she wasn't budging. The feeling was that she didn't have a clue what it felt like to be my age and want to play dress up as badly as I did. I loved it. So I just told her, in a very raised voice - not disrespectful - but within the bounds of my being able to express my displeasure with her choices - "WHEN I GROW UP I'M GOING TO PLAY DRESSUP WHENEVER I WANT TO!!!!" I still don't recall any remorse on her part. I remember thinking inside, "I know you think I won't do that because I'll be grownup, but I will. I'll never not want to play dressup". The memory ends there, with my walking back into the kitchen and it fades off. I don't know what I did after that instead of playing with the dressup clothes.

Mom was very kind and flexible - and tolerant - I just caught her at a moment when she didn't want to fool with it.

I always remembered that scene - and with four girls in my home - when they were small - I kept a box of "dressup" clothes which they could access at anytime. They did. I have some great pix of them in their showy garments. The box was in their closet and Ann has one for Ellie at her house. I even have a special "dressup clothes" basket which Ellie and Ada and Luke can get to - mostly Ellie uses it because Ada is only now getting to the age of choosing that. Luke certainly doesn't think of it unless Ellie thinks of it for him. There's not much in the basket for little boys to wear. Ellie absolutely loves the dressup game and she has a grandmother who respects that greatly.

Probably if Mother had a do over she'd think, "I don't know why I didn't keep that stuff out so you could just do it whenever" - but she didn't think of that. There must have been a reason because we had so much to play with and Mother let us do so much which I didn't have the patience for when I was a mom. I think for us adults and Mothers of small children, it's just whatever we can handle at the time - on any given day and at any given hour.

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