The musical Annie taught us that you’re never fully dressed without a smile. Unless you’re a child getting ready for school. Then the truth is that you’re just never fully dressed. In fact, sometimes it’s 10 minutes until go time and your kid is only wearing a smile.
That’s because kids are ridiculous people. Cute as a button, but about as cooperative as pudding when it comes to getting dressed for school. Here are the truths all moms know about getting their kids dressed for school:
1. Dressing happens in stages. You expect children to get dressed the way adults do, all at once and without a support staff. But kids prefer a series of dressing events, each separated by unrelated tasks. They get on underpants and a shirt, then have breakfast. They put on pants and socks, then watch some YouTube. They yell, “Mom, where are my shoes?” Then you yell, “I don’t know, where did you take them off last night?” And 30 to 47 minutes later, you’re 12 minutes late for school.
2. There are no matching socks. Even if the only socks you bought your kids were 24 identical white pairs, they stopped matching as soon as you brought them into the house.
3. Kids and moms have different definitions of “dress nicely.” Mom version of dress nicely: Clean jeans, matching socks, neat top, cute sweater, and non-scuffed shoes. Kid version of dress nicely: Last year’s Halloween costume, a stained cardigan with a hole in the elbow, and rain boots.
4. Picture day will be your Alamo. And will always be on the losing side.
5. There’s never enough time. You have your child shower and pick out his clothes the night before to save time? Doesn’t matter. There will never be enough time for getting dressed and you’ll still have a child putting his sneakers on in the car. That child is probably not wearing underpants.
6. If you have more than one kid, you’ve already lost. Having four kids has taught me that only one of them can ever be perfectly dressed and in clean clothes at any given time. That’s because I can only supervise one at a time. The others invariably look like Keith Richards. I put one clean and fully-dressed child and three Keith Richardses on the school bus every day.
7. There will be one new school outfit they never wear. They loved putting on those jeans and that sweater and this tee when they were in the dressing room, but that doesn’t mean they plan to actually wear that ensemble to school. They will outgrow it before the tags ever come off.
8. They never have the right shoes. Okay, our sons might have the right footwear all year long — namely, one pair of special occasion loafers and seven different takes on “gym shoes.” But for many of our daughters, we’ll have at least one day when we throw up our hands up and say, “You’ll just have to wear your tap shoes.”
9. Seasons don’t matter to children. To a child, shorts are an appropriate choice when building snowmen and there’s no time like spring for a winter parka. You say “snowstorm,” they say “flip flops.” You say “heat wave,” they say “wool socks.”
10. Size is just a number. This fall there will be a kid going to school in leggings she’s been wearing for three straight years. They will be cutting off the circulation in her calves. At least she’ll pair them with a tee shirt sized to fit The Hulk. You can try to wrestle her into right-sized clothes or you can pin a note to the shirt that says, “Mom gave up.”
11. They only have one favorite piece of clothing. And they want to wear it every. single. day.
12. Something’s on backwards. This clothing habit is usually reserved for the 7-and-under set, but don’t be surprised when it pops back up on your tween who overslept.
13. They don’t want your help. Remember when you wanted your toddler to dress himself? Careful what you wish for. Now you’re desperate to help with buttoning (“We haven’t got all day!”), tying shoes (“We’re going to be late!”), and zippering (“Just let mommy do that for you!”).
14. Tops and bottoms don’t always go together. You mean, you wouldn’t normally match red with a slightly different shade of red? Your kid will!
15. You’re never prepared for special dress-up days. Throughout the school year there will be special dress-up days. Your kid will tell you five minutes before you leave the house that it’s sports team day, cowboy day, school spirit day, PJ day — you name it. Unless it’s wacky day, when anything goes, you’re in trouble.
Someday, as all parents know, your kids will likely have kids of their own. Then, you can sit back and nod your head in mock sympathy when they tell you, “Mom, the kids are NEVER ready for school on time! I mean, I don’t wear their shoes, how should I know where they left them?”
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