Once again I am experiencing a backfiring sensation in my role as mother. I am trying to remember why I so desperately wanted and encouraged my children (my daughter in particular) to learn to dress themselves.
My daughter, almost three, has enough experience in mixing and matching to become a wardrobe consultant for Healthtex, Carter's, and Polly Flinders. The girl cannot make it through the day without at least five or six costume changes , each with a new flare for color and originality.
''The layered look is a favorite for Janey, this year, she looks adorable in this all seasoned, ready for anything, creation. The bright red sweater looks especially stunning over her angelic V-neck football jersey, under which she shows some signs of Strawberry Shortcake pajamas. The blue velour warm-up pants look warm and striking with those bright orange pockets. The socks, another Janey original, one pale pink, and one emerald green, show up nicely in her white summer sandals (unbuckled, and oops, on the wrong feet).''
''Look Mommie,'' she holds up all the layers.
''Janey! What are you doing in your bathing suit?''
She laughs. ''I got this on all by himself!''
''You picked all those clothes out by YOURSELF?'' I dramatized.
''You are so big. You look so . . . nice! Now, are you going to leave them on all day?''
''Yup. Because thesem are my favorite clothes.'' She rubs her hands approvingly over her rounded tummy and padded hips.
''Mine too,'' I said.
She toddles off to play and I think what a hit this little waif will make at the supermarket.
A few minutes later she strolls into the kitchen and amazingly enough is still wearing the same unforgettable outfit, only she has topped it off with a navy blue stocking hat, andm a cowboy hat.
Never wanting to miss a chance for an enlightening conversation I ask, ''Why are you wearing twom hats, Janey?''
She stretches her overstuffed arms to her head and touches the cowboy hat. ''This is a cowboy hat to keep the sun off, and this,'' she pulls the stocking hat farther down over her eyes, ''keeps the snow out of my ears!''
From the beach to the slopes, from horseback to the gridiron, and right into bed -- this outfit is versatile. Yes, this outfit may well be the answer to every wardrobe problem.
''Wait, I forgot.'' She turns and runs out of the kitchen to find one more accessory.
I'm thinking she must be going to get her backpack or her stick pony, and I quickly become ensoaked once more in my morning dishes. I hear her grunting and groaning, muffled thuds, and the childish talk one imparts to oneself while having fitting problems.
I hear her thunder down the stairs sounding heavier than before.
''Look at me now,'' she exclaims.
I turn and cannot believe she has managed to squeeze a backward brown corduroy jumper in between the football jersey and the red sweater. She has traded in her white sandals for some oversize snow boots (oops again).
She hands me a necklace that is a white plastic heart embossed with ''Superwoman'' dangling from a thick gold chain.
''Put this on me, Mommie.''
''There. I would say you are dressed.''
''Now I'm all ready,'' she sighs, slightly exhausted, and looks me over. ''But Mom, you aren't ready.''
''OK, I'll get dressed.''
Janey reaches for my soapy hand, ''And I'll help you.''