Show your independence

independence baby

Right around the 18 month mark of tiny babyhood, Precocious decided she was done letting me play dress-up.  Just when we were getting into the really cute clothes stage, out of onesies and jumpsuits, Precocious decided she was a better judge of fashion than I and that she ‘would take it from here’.  As you might imagine, I was a little heartbroken.  I mean what 18 month old have you ever seen dress themselves properly?  We ended up playing battle of the wills, and it should be no surprise I ended up on the losing side of the equation.

We’ve been arguing about fashion ever since.  In fact, at least once a week Precocious tells me she absolutely cannot believe what I’m wearing, and for that matter that people actually PAY ME to style them.  It blows her mind.


It doesn’t take a lot of math to figure out that between the ages of 1 1/2 and 12 years old, we’ve had our fair share of tug-of-wars over wardrobe choices.  A striped tank with plaid pants?  How about a gold and glittery skirt with paisley patterned tights and a pink ruffly shirt, topped off with pink flowered rain boots?

Her sartorial decisions continue to baffle me, just as mine baffle her.

She’s also been doing her own hair since she was 2, despite my begging, pleading, demanding to do it for her.  And now heading into her 13th year, she’ll barely let me braid it.  It was a source of constant strife, but I decided just to let it go.  When she was in Kindergarten, we’d often battle about what was and wasn’t appropriate to wear out in public, and one day I decided to just be done with it.  As long as she was modest, did it really matter if she wore her princess dress and flip flops to school?

crazy hair day

No, not really.

Her Kindergarten teacher took me aside one day and told me that Precocious’ clothing and hair choices were what got her out of bed every morning; she couldn’t wait to get to school and see what my baby girl had cooked up at 8:25 am.  She also mentioned to me that said baby girl had the most self confidence in her class, that being in charge of herself, every last bit of herself, gave her a sense of independence and pride.  I just needed to let go and allow her to make those decisions for herself.

I mean honestly, would I allow someone else to dress me?  Never.  And when I was 5 and wearing nothing but a poncho, heels, and red lipstick I absolutely knew there was nothing wrong with what I was wearing either.

independenceMister Charming wasn’t far behind Precocious, he’ll still let me choose what to wear on any given day.  But I can’t tell you how many times we’ve gone to the grocery store in full princess regalia right down to the plastic Disney heels and self applied makeup.  Curlers in his hair?  All the time.  Pirate outfits for 2 weeks straight? Of course.

I wheeled that kid around the grocery store time after time, avoiding the dirty looks and stares of my fellow shoppers fully knowing it didn’t matter as long as my kid was happy.  Me telling my children what to wear was the same as telling them their opinions didn’t matter, and as long as it didn’t concern their general welfare and well being, does it really matter?

No, no it does not.  In fact, I’m really hoping as Precocious heads to Jr. High this fall {yes! I know! GASP!} that she continues to wear exactly what she pleases, knowing full well who she is and that she’s confident with it.

show independence

Confidence indeed.


life is a special occasion

I’m so excited to be partnering again with Hallmark in 2012 as part of their “Life Is a Special Occasion” campaign. As always all stories, opinions, and naughty children are my own.

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Hello there! I'm Allison Czarnecki, founder + editor of Petit Elefant, a blog all about style on a budget for every part of your life: style / home / travel / family. I do a lot of how-to beauty + style tutorials, travel posts, easy recipes, home remodel projects, and cool DIY crafts you totally want to try. I'm super happily married (to a hot Polish immigrant) and am the mother of two kids, a daughter and son, all of whom are featured here on the regular. We live in the country but we're a little bit rock + roll. Welcome!


  1. the emily :

    My baby girl just turned 2 and it is KILLING me that she won’t let me dress her. It’s all sundresses from here on out…in the dead of winter. I got her the cutest outfit from baby Gap for her birthday, all ruffles and pink, but now. She will not even consider it. I guess I should look on the independence bright side, but it still kills me.

    • Allison :

      I feel your pain 100%. But seriously, retrospectively I wish I hadn’t harassed her at all about it, it just isn’t worth it.

  2. Jenny :

    I love your daughter and her opinions. I don’t think I will ever get these mothers that dress their children who can speak. When first grade started we did sit down and have a chat about loud fabric and the recommendation to wear one loud piece of clothing at a time, and that tights do not substitute for pants ever.

    • Allison :

      I just don’t have the willpower to negotiate over something that doesn’t matter. I mean, when a kid wants to wear tights and a tee, yes I’ll intervene. But other than that, as long as they’re covered it’s all good.

  3. Megan :

    My 3-year-old daughter always digs up the stained shirt or pants that I had tossed in the rag pile, or things that are 3 sizes too small. I TRY to let her make her own choices, but why can’t she choose the tutu or mismatched socks that would make me look like an eccentric parent, rather than the stained T-shirt that makes me look like an incompetent slob? ARGH!

    • Allison :

      I know, man have we had those days! At that point, I intervene. Sometimes. But the thing that took me a while to get over was what other parents thought of me. Now I just don’t care.

  4. dawn :

    They are SOOO cute! :)

    • Allison :

      Aw, thank you! Thank you.

  5. Emily :

    You are an awesome mom! Love the comments from P’s kindergarten teacher.

    • Allison :

      You are very kind. So was P’s kindergarten teacher, she was hugely influential in her life, letting P do her own thing. I’m so grateful to her.

  6. dgm :

    Oh, the clothing battles I had with my mom! With my own daughter (now 13, first year in high school), I decided early on to cringe through her fashion choices so long as they weren’t inappropriate (i.e., too skimpy). If she wanted to wear mixed patterns or her pajamas to a restaurant, I was down with it. I figured nobody was going to think I chose the outfit. And now? She totally rocks my granny’s old pillbox hat or my dad’s bowties (including the one he wore to my wedding, which makes me smile/cry because he passed away last year) or my mom’s velvet blazer at school. I love seeing her confident to wear what others her age wouldn’t dare to. It’s liberating as a parent and empowering for a child to let them control their fashion choices.

    • Allison :

      I love that you’re so cool with it. I honestly get a lot of stares and whispered comments, but I’m okay about it, because this is about my kids, not strangers. In the end they’re both more confident and self assured because of that responsibility. Kudos to you!

  7. Erin O. :

    As long as she’s dressed for the weather and her face is clean, I’m cool with whatever my girl wants to wear. I fight harder on the hair though…because I was the kid with the straight bowl cut that PINED for a braid, or a curl, or a bow. And by “fight harder”, I mean that I blow out her hair every two days so it doesn’t get nuts and cover her face.

    I’ll let you braid MY hair, Allison.

    • Allison :

      Oh Erin, half the time {most of the time} their little baby faces weren’t even clean.


      Sleepover? Hair braiding? Give me a date.

  8. Jen M :

    This sounds just like my house. Thankfully my son waited awhile to assert his opinions on what he was wearing. My daughter on the other hand has had quite a few interesting outfits in her life. I am happy to say that she has requested to borrow my clothes on more than one occasion so she must not think I’m too big of a dork.

    • Allison :

      Aha! And my baby girl has started borrowing my shoes! The very ones she’s told me repeatedly are hideous. So maybe what goes around comes around…

  9. Carina :

    I just figure that everyone at the grocery store understand that a pair of plaid pants, a different plaid shirt, and yet a third plaid hat means my 3YO dressed himself.

    • Allison :

      Or that he’s a complete hipster who understands fashion as an art form and THE REST OF US ARE WRONG.

  10. Liz@thisfullhouse :

    Kudos to you for wheeling past all the stares and dirty looks *sticks out tongue* you’ve got some happy kiddos there and it shows :)

  11. Rachel - A Southern Fairytale :

    Amen, friend. I have one of those, too <3
    You're making the absolute right decision for y'all xoxoo
    LOVE those pics :-)

  12. Pip :

    Princess Pedantic (4yrs old) has been determined to dress herself from the 18month mark. I gave up quite a while ago. The only rule in this house is “Cover your undies” (this is based on the “Stockings are not pants” discussion we used to have regularly). She’s full of confidence though, and most likely with an excessive wardrobe, but she’s happy, and enjoying clothing in a way I never was able to. I get odd looks on occasion, but at the end of the day, I’m glad my daughter is learning at a young age to be true to herself.

    • Allison :

      I love it! Cover your undies. That’s a really good rule of thumb, as is stockings are not pants. A lot of grown women need that reminder.

  13. Daneilia :

    Your kids are sweet! It’s sad how they grow up and become independent. But it’s probably best that way considering if tables were turned and they were completely dependent the rest of their lives…who knows what that would be like. Who knows if we want to even imagine. But I’m in your shoes, its hard to see your child grow and excel. I love that my little one is growing up and doing great especially for being a toddler. It just hurts that she doesn’t need me as much and the fact that they grow so fast is saddening :(

    But yeah my little one is a shoe fanatic and oh my goodness I’m worried when she gets older haha.

    • Allison :

      I hate that they grow up, but that’s the whole point isn’t it? I just need to gird my loins and suck it up a little.

  14. Kristen :

    Leah (2..almost 3) is my 4th and the one who is most eccentric in her outfit choices. Today it happens to be PJ’s, and heavy winter PJ’s even though it is 80 degrees out now. I just go with it… may have been a little less eager to go with it with my first!

    • Allison :

      She is THE cutest. Seriously, I wish I could go back 12 years and tell myself to chill out on the wardrobe stuff – it just doesn’t matter and it isn’t worth fighting. If the kids are happy and covered, does it really matter? Not really.

  15. Lora :

    My boys could care less about what they wear. I wish they would pick out their outfits! Some days when I am really strapped for time and can’t find matching socks, I tell them it’s odd sock day! They go along with it, bless their hearts! They don’t care, they just don’t care at all! Love reading your adventures!

  16. Stephanie Newton :

    Love your thoughts! My precious precocious is now 15. She decided at 18 months that she wouldn’t wear diapers any more and when all the other girls were wearing pretty dresses and bows, she was wearing an age appropriate version of what the teenagers were wearing. I’m with you. Unless it’s totally inappropriate for the season, childhood is too short to argue about what your daughter is wearing.

  17. Baby Products :

    Cute childrens.. I love their smiles……..