Let’s talk about child self-expression.

Just the other day my daughter strutted into Wal-Mart, proud as a peacock.

Wearing bright red shorts, a carnival cruise t-shirt with a huge smiley face on it.

That somewhat resembled the Kool-Aid man, and silver, sparkly mud boots.

Her hair was in a messy bun. And still had remnants of the not-so-temporary hair spray dye and glitter from her mini makeover at the mall two days before.

(Yes, she’d had a bath. But that stuff is not so “temporary” on nearly-white blonde hair.)

Obviously, she dressed, and boy was she proud. She loved every piece of clothing she had on and thought she looked top-notch.

We got the occasional funny look from the prudes. But, most people (especially little old ladies for some reason) just laughed. Also, doted on her for how pretty her hair was and how much they LOVED her sparkly boots.

The child’s self-confidence was through the roof that day. Because she had picked her own outfit and most everyone thought it was just wonderful.

Just last week, on Easter, she did the same thing. She had picked out a fluffy yellow dress that she referred to as her “Belle dress” weeks before. It was quite Easter-y, with a big pink flower around the waist.

She chose to wear it with bright red Mary Jane’s. It did not match at all. But, it made her happy and she truly felt like a princess, which is all that matters to me.

We through on a touch of pink eyeshadow and a little bit of glitter lip gloss and she was ready to take on the world and dominate the Easter egg hunt.

child-expression in Easter dress

Now, I’ve never been much on outer appearances. We’ve always strived to teach our daughter that a person’s qualities on the “inside” are far more important than outer appearance.

It’s something that we feel very strongly about and we make sure to instill that in our child at every given chance. But, a lot of mommas are seriously invested in the way their kiddos look.

I’m not shaming that! I certainly don’t want my child going out looking like she needs a bath. Moreover, hasn’t had a brush in her hair for a month of Sundays either.

But, it’s important to me to allow her to find her own “groove”, so to speak.

I grew up in the south and attended a Southern Baptist church every Sunday and Wednesday night for the majority of my childhood.

What I could and couldn’t wear was strictly regulated within and outside of the church.

No pants on Sundays, no shorts above the knees, and tank tops were a gateway to Hell.

As I got older, I vowed to never put my children through that. Understand now that my parents were only doing what they felt was right, but it just wasn’t for me.

I knew that I would raise my child differently and would allow her to express herself however she found fit.

Would never discourage her opinions and decisions and I would ensure that she knew that even if everyone doesn’t like your style, you’re still entitled to whatever style you like.

Different isn’t a bad thing, and we should all show respect for the way people decide to express themselves.

So, now we have Temperance.

The three-year-old that goes to Wal-Mart looking like she’s dressed for the farm and a party all in one outfit.

toddler in gown

She wears crazy shoes with fluffy dresses. I’ve even seen her go so far as to wear the rain boots with the fluffy dress.

And, it doesn’t bother me in the slightest.

She’s a kid and learning what she likes and what she doesn’t.

Finding her own personality and style every day. Sometimes she goes crazy, sometimes she picks the plainest or cutest little outfits in her closet.

Either way, she’s her own person and I feel that she should be allowed some choice in what she decides to wear and how she decides to allow her personality to shine through that day.

As she gets older I’m sure she’ll shy away from some of the crazy get-ups.

Friends, peers at school, and society, in general, will eventually, and unfortunately, seep their way into her wonderful, spunky personality. She’ll start to choose the more neutral outfits in an attempt to “fit in”.

I can only hope that I’ve given her the jump-start she needs to not allow society to shape her completely. By allowing her to wear the crazy clothes and mismatched shoes,

Hope that I’ve taught her that it’s okay to be a little different and will have learned that this world is full of different and crazy and wild.

I hope that she is comfortable with her true self and has learned to show respect for anyone and every one no matter how they choose to dress or express their own personalities.

By allowing her to express herself I hope that she one day has the confidence to encourage others to do the same.

By instilling that message in her, that the inside is the only thing that truly counts,

Hope that I unleash a respectful, accepting human being into the world.

While I have no way of knowing what her true “groove” will be in the end, I know that the outlandish get-ups won’t last forever.

But, until then it sure makes for some great photographs.

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