I used to spend about eight hours a day with other adults. I was working out there in the world mostly with other women. When we didn’t discuss our work we talked about politics, celebrity gossip, how hot Scott Eastwood is, our families and how great we looked to each other.
If I was having a medium sort of day it was always nice when Rachel who sat across from me said: I L-O-V-E THAT SCARF! Instance boost.
The discussion of shoes and boots– which are separate conversations by the way– ran rampant in our hive.
A new haircut could cause a real twitter of excitement. Discussion of a potential hairstyle change by any of us would result in mad searching on smart phones for options.
Since September, I spend nine hours a day with an eight-year-old boy. In the past Thorin had shown a real flair for picking things out for me. A few years ago he was with me as I searched through dress racks trying to find a suitable dress for my sister’s wedding. He pulled out a black and white print wrap dress I would have never considered: “Really?”
“Yesith!” (This is before his teeth came in.)
“I don’t know…”
He dragged me to the dressing room. When I came out he made me twirl.
I did get several compliments on the dress at the wedding.
He has picked out jewelry for me vetoing Ward’s ideas. My favorite present was a bracelet with little green and brown stones I would not have looked twice at and it is ‘perfect’ for me.
This is all to say I thought he could be trusted to have my best interest at heart.
I noticed since we started homeschooling/unschooling thus spending most of our time together he offers commentary on a almost daily basis. And – it’s not always positive.
I came in the kitchen with a head wrap on which I thought very chic and practical because it was humid and I have wavy hair.
He looked up from his cereal grimacing: “What’s that?”
“You don’t like it?”
“No, no. Off now.”
“Now listen I like it…”
He covered his eyes: “Very bad. NO!”
He had been right about the other things so I took it off and substituted with bobbie pins.
Some days he might approve my earrings with a thumbs up and a very enthusiastic: “Yay!”
But more often than not he would criticized. I put on a pair of boots with my jeans tucked in.
“Oh, no. No. Go back.”
“Absolutely not. I like this so there.”
“Ick!” Except it wasn’t one ‘ick’ it was about seven minutes of ‘ick’. He can really run with an idea.
We agreed I could cuff the jeans above the ankle. When we showed up late for speech therapy I said I misplaced my car keys.
I never shared any of these exchanges with anyone for reasons unclear to me.
At Christmas Pop-Pop and Nana sent me a black winter vest with princess seams. I loved it! I pulled it out of it’s packaging and put it on immediately.
I called to Thorin to show him my new gift. Who I am I kidding I started relying on his opinion by then. I wanted to know what he thought.
“It’s great, right?”
He picked up the bag it had come in, “Put in here now.”
“I love this.”
“Bad, bad, bad. No good. Ick.”
I decided to ignore him. I wore it out that day. Every hour or so he would say something like: “Really bad.”, “Stinky, stinky.”, and finally, “So sad” even signing the word ‘sad’.
Ward hadn’t actually seen the vest on me when he accompanied me to the mall to return it. He was also a little peeved we were using ‘date time’ to return clothing.
As I shuffled through all the vests trying each on and hating them I said: “I should have brought Thorin to help me.”
The look on Ward’s face was of true concern: “What are you talking about?”
“Thorin likes to help pick out my clothes.”
“Kari, tell me exactly why you are returning the vest?”
“Thorin hates it.”
“Kari! Thorin is eight!” he said. “Put the vest on.”
After I had it on he told me: “You look great. That is a perfect cut for your body.”
“Kari how long has this been going on?”
I just couldn’t be truthful: “I don’t know…a couple weeks.”
“Has it occurred to you he may have an ulterior motive in trying to manage your choices?”
“Oh no, he is messing with my head!”
“Like I said, Kari, he’s eight. Stop listening to him.”
In car ride back home wearing the vest I thought about how to handle this whole situation. I realized I mustn’t be direct. I didn’t want him to know I had been duped. I would just stick to my boots about the vest.
Ward helped me out when we got home by making a big show of how much he loved the vest on me in front of Thorin: “Doesn’t mommy look beautiful?”
“Yes! Pretty mommy!” he said beaming.
While Ward was letting the dogs out Thorin sidled up to me: “Not for you. No, no.”
I wore the vest the rest of the night even sleeping in it. Two can play that game.
We have since struck a collegial balance with regard to wardrobe choices. We each pick out our own clothes. We support our choices in a complimentary manner. We do reserve the right only when absolutely necessary to offer helpful feedback. For example: Thorin’s choice of a swimming suit over pants when it was 15 degrees out. And he balked at my really too pink lipstick.
Kindly reprinted on Huffington Post Parents.