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Mommy's Little Accessorizer

Against my husband’s explicit instructions and fervent (and frequent) prayers, Maddie’s become a bit of clotheshorse.

Or should I say, accessory mule.

Clothing’s not really a big interest of hers right now, except in relation to how long it’s going to be before she can take it off. Naked Girl reigns supreme this summer. But the past few weeks have seen an astonishing awakening of the Accessorizing Instinct, and I think there’s no going back.

I’m pretty sure it all started with the shoes. She’s got a couple pairs of Robeez  that she still wears (kid’s got small feet), and a pair of sturdy sandals used for running around the park. In a household that goes barefoot while inside, all the shoes live in one area by the front door. Now, she’s been fascinated with adult shoes for a while (see previous blog); any footwear not put away is immediately her property, to carry around, try on, scold, lecture, whatever. And she’s still begging for her own shoes, though I’m reasonably certain it’s because she associates shoe-wearing with going out to fun places like the park or the nursery at church.

But her shoe, um, obsession has evolved – or should I say regressed. About a week ago, she was digging through her toy chest and came up with a pair of booties we used to put on her feet when she was very little – part of the whole “Hey, look, I have feet!” phase. These things have a bunny head and a kitty head on each foot, and rattle when shaken.

Or walked in.

maddie_14_months_017.jpgShe now brings them to you, demanding that they be put on. Sometimes she wears them like gloves and croons to her new little sock puppet friends, but usually she dons them as footwear. Once her feet are squeezed into the sock puppets, she marches happily around, jangling away. On the practical side, it’s a great way to keep track of where she is in the house.

On the impractical side, they don’t match any of her summer outfits. But boy, does she love to stomp around in them. Run to one spot, jog furiously in place, wait for applause, repeat.

Footwear, though, is simply the tip of the accessory iceburg.

maddie_13_months_132.jpgShe’s gotten into hats now as well, though of course she still fights them when we’re out and about and actually needs to wear one. But at home, she’ll riffle through her chapeau wardrobe, select one, and draw it rakishly over her head. She recently rediscovered a watermelon hat knitted for her by one of her grandmothers, and has had it in high rotation ever since. It’s a skull cap now, but whatever.

And for the accessory grand finale -

About a month ago I gave her a purse I used to carry as a child – a mini flight-bag to fill with toddler essentials. Since she so loves to play with (read – dump the contents out of) my purse, I reasoned, she’d love to have her own.

Of course, a purse needs purse-like things, so after having her steal my “necessities” a few times, I wised up and filled her bag for her. She now has a purse fully stocked with:

-An old cell phone, battery removed. How do kids know the toy ones from the real ones? She won’t touch it if it’s fake. But this thing, she runs around the house with, barking orders into it, holding it between her head and shoulder just like mommy . . . it’s actually a little frightening. Hold the phone out to her and say, “It’s for you,” and she cocks her head, debating whether or not she wants to take the call.
-An old wallet, credit cards removed. It does, however, have a Blockbuster card and an old library card. She loves taking them out and putting them back.
-An old set of keys, germs and grime removed. ‘Cause they’re mostly just a chew toy. Although for the past week I’ve seen her take they keys out, walk over to the front door, and try to put one key in the lock. Katy, bar the door.

maddie_14_months_018.jpgShe's added a few essentials of her own, such as a Star Wars finger puppet, courtesy of Daddy. And listen, he never shares his Star Wars toys. And from Mommy's stash she's appropriated an expired coupon that she'll periodically pull out, thumb thoughtfully, and decide to use another day. The cutest part about the whole purse thing is that she’ll run up to you with it and ask you to put it on her shoulder like a “grownup”. She’ll walk around, arm stiffly up to keep the purse from falling down, until she can’t resist any longer and has to check through the loot one more time.

The whole purse thing serves to remind me yet again how our children are such sponges, soaking up everything they see, everything we do. How often do I walk around with a phone crooked under my ear? How many times has she seen me sort through my purse to find a credit card, or fling the bag over my shoulder? How often has she watched us use keys to unlock doors?

And what else is she learning from watching us?

We’ve got such an awesome responsibility as parents and forget that we’re always “on” as teacher, as example. They see us eat (or not eat) our veggies, brush our teeth, read our books, act rudely to strangers. We are their role models, their superheroes. It’s a big job, and I’ve got to keep it bite-sized or I’ll be parylized with inferiority. For now, I’ll try not to worry too much about the unintentional lessons I may be teaching her, and simply try to keep it in the back of my mind as I go about my daily life.

I’m much more concerned about teaching her that those shoes do not go with that purse. 


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