Tiny, adorable, clever and independent Claire was also strong-willed, high maintenance and high-strung. My fifth child, Claire was a beautiful little package of contradictions who gave me strife and hilarious joy, sometimes at the very same time. Most arguments were about clothes. Although her fashion sense has developed into a wonderful gift now that she is in her mid twenties, at three and four-years old this “gift” was a pain.
Claire changed her clothes often throughout the day, from the age of two. Watching one of the few videos of our family, one of my older daughters pointed at the screen and laughed,
“Look at Claire. That is the third time she has changed clothes during this video!”
Sure enough, the pip squeak had another outfit on.
Claire was always aware of what she was wearing as well as those around her, which often led to disagreements about what she could and could not wear. Although she was a mature, articulate, fashion conscious three-year old, I was still concerned that Claire was too young to start four-year old kindergarten. When she stomped into the house after the first morning, ranting about a little girl who had worn a “jean skirt with a matching jean jacket”, I realized that it was the school which was not quite ready for Claire!
Alas, Claire’s attention soon turned to her busy mother. I sometimes pulled on stockings, brushed my hair and applied a touch of make-up once I had climbed into our huge 13 seat mini-bus. I barely had enough time to make sure my dress was clean and I had brushed my teeth before I hustled everyone out the door. This changed when my daughters were in their late teens because they organized an all out assault to bring me into the 21st century. They took me to a hair salon for a cut and dye make-over, plucked my eyebrows, bought me clothes and make-up and forced me to throw out decade old comfy clothes. Claire has been the most persistent fashion advisor, however.
One evening as I tried to rush out of the house, Claire looked up from her homework, looked me up and down disapprovingly and asked, very slowly,
“Are you going out?”
I answered in the affirmative.
Claire continued, “And you’re wearing that?”
I nodded slowly. I knew the direction that this conversation was headed.
“I don’t think so”, she added, “Remember the navy pants that Melissa bought you for Christmas and the top that Rachel gave you on Mother’s Day? That would look really sharp with my light blue scarf and my little black belt. Could you pleeeease try it on?”
I sighed and trudged back upstairs because it was easier just to comply. I must admit that she was right. Of course, once I came down, Claire had to jump up to adjust the belt and re-tie the scarf but as a result of listening to my daughter’s fashion advice, Michael, my husband, was pleasantly surprised.
Really though, Claire is an expert at changing outfits. She has been practicing since she was two-years old.