This article originally appeared in Sulekha
“It’s party time,” cried my three-year-old daughter Ragini as she made a beeline for her closet. This was going to be her day — the day that she had waited for all year — her best friend’s birthday! I mentally braced myself for a round of, “Mom, please can I wear this? Pleeease!” Ragini had changed her mind so many times the last week about what she was going to wear to her friend’s party that I was resigned to a long evening in front of me. I was learning the hard way that patience is the virtue that moms need the most.
When my second daughter Malini was born, everybody told me how lucky I was. “Two girls are so much easier to raise. You cannot imagine how much trouble boys are,” many of my friends gushed. I can let the secret out now — my friends were lying. My two girls, bless their hearts, are cute and endearing to one and all outside the home, but only I know the real truth. Bringing up two girls — make that two fashion conscious sub-six-year-old girls — is anything but easy. Having survived breast-feeding, potty training, and weaning, I was beginning to get a little complacent when my older daughter Ragini hit the first of her, “I-will-only-wear-_____ (fill in any article of clothing)” phases.
It began with the Prancing-Around-Naked phase. Wherever fancy struck her, be it the family room or a party at a friend’s house, off came her clothes. The shedding wouldn’t stop till she was in her birthday suit and she had drawn attention to her (lack of) clothing status in her loudest voice. I am sure much of the gray in my husband’s moustache appeared during this P-A-N phase. Just as we were getting resigned to being parents of a perpetually naked child, mercifully this phase ended.
Then it was skirts. Those were all she wore. My three-year-old had begun her Skirt Phase. In the beginning, I was only too happy that she was at least clothed! Nevertheless I was having a hard time coping with it. My angelic daughter, who had quietly worn any dress that I rummaged out of the wardrobe for her, was now very single-minded about wearing only skirts. If I didn’t give her what she wanted, she would bawl and plead alternatively until I ceded. Very soon, I found myself fighting a losing battle.
Ragini’s single-minded focus on her darn skirts, meant that all those new outfits from her doting grandparents hardly merited a glance. When my mother called me and asked if Ragini had liked the new frocks that she had sent, I had to evade her. It was easy on the phone. The frocks were gathering dust in the wardrobe. But I had not bargained for my daughter’s loud mouth. The moment my mother arrived on a visit the little imp demanded, “Grandma, I asked you for a yellow frock. Why didn’t you get me one?” While I squirmed under my mother’s disapproving look, the real culprit was grinning at us like a Cheshire cat. The Skirt Phase threatened my sanity severely.
Eventually my husband and I found ourselves adjusting and began breathing a little easy during the late Skirt Period. One fine morning soon after this our first-born declared that she only wanted to wear her swimsuit henceforth.
“Geez! I hope this dress mania isn’t catching. I’m not sure I can handle another kid going through this!” my husband snorted in disbelief.
The story does have a happy ending. While we told everyone how we had found a marvelous private school for Ragini, we were the only ones who knew that the mandatory maroon school uniform was the deciding factor!