“Mum, why do you never wear dresses!” asked my six-year-old this morning, for the eleven millionth time.
“I do wear dresses – I wear them to work and on nights out don’t I?” I replied, but Clara was unconvinced. It’s a conversation we’ve had many times before and it always goes the same way.
“But you never wear them during the day, when you’re doing stuff with us,” she points out, every single time, “You only ever wear jeans – jeans are so boring.”
And I always give the same answer; it’s because jeans are handy when you’re chasing three kids around a playground, I explain. Plus, I add, we never know what way the weather is going to go – just because it’s sunshiney-dress-wearing weather right now, doesn’t mean it won’t be hailstoning in two hours. And she points out that none of this deters her from wearing dresses. So I finally give her a lame “it’s just a mum thing” and she resolves to wear dresses forever, even when she has the twelve kids she’s planning to have.
There is one other reason that I don’t wear dresses out and about with the kids – but it’s one that’s far too silly to tell her. It’s extremely silly in fact. But here goes. The playgrounds we go to are beside the sea. So it’s windy. And in the wind, dresses blow up. Yes, I know I sound like a six-year-old, but I just don’t like it. Add to that the fact that my toddler has a wonderful habit of putting his head under my skirt – no matter where we are – and maybe you can see where I’m coming from.
“You have so many dresses, you really should wear them” Clara said this morning, and she’s right. I did a quick count, and there were thirty-seven in the wardrobe. Lots of smart, grown-up work dresses and lots of glam(ish) going-out dresses, all of which get a reasonable amount of wear. And then there are the day-dresses; the ones I find most difficult to resist when I see them in the shops, and the ones of which I get least wear. Colour block shift dresses, floral print tea-dresses, polka dots sun-dresses, above-the-knee shirt dresses. Many of them are what I call “garden-party dresses”. I just don’t get invited to any garden parties. So, they sit prettily in my wardrobe, until my six-year-old wears me down. Like today.
“OK then,” I said, looking out at the blue sky and bright sunshine, “You’re right, it’s a beautiful day – I’ll wear a dress.”
Two hours later, we were walking towards the seafront in Dun Laoghaire, and it started to rain heavily. The girls complained that they were cold in their dresses, and I agreed that I was too, holding back an “I told you so”.
Then the wind whipped up, and suddenly, my dress was around my ears. Oh yes, right in the middle of Dun Laoghaire, on a busy Saturday afternoon, my dress was covering my head. I grabbed the hem and reefed it back to down, then ran into a nearby shop, pushing the buggy with one hand and holding down my dress with the other.
“What’s up?” asked five-year-old Emmie. “My dress just blew up in the wind and the whole world saw my underwear!” I said.
“Well, not the whole world mum. Like, people in France didn’t see” she said. Quite. “And, you know, people in Cork didn’t see,” she continued. Point taken, but still. I’m taking two lessons from this:
- For perspective, keep a five-year-old with you at all times
- Leave the day-dresses in the wardrobe until someone finally has a garden party