by Lisa

Picture Day, the add-on one that never happened when I was a kid, happens tomorrow for the daughter.  She’s completely nonchalant over it.  I intend to change that, baby girl.

What about the outfit?  We’re going shopping.  I hadn’t budgeted for clothes this week, exactly, but she has asked for “new” new clothes exactly twice in her life.  She has been raised in the best that thrift stores have had to offer, and has never complained.  Grandma splurges on her shoes, for sure, but that’s a brand new thing. The child loves nice shoes, and I wish that I could borrow them: usually black with sparkles or rainbows or rainbows AND sparkles, and funky shapes like boot-high Chuck Taylors.  Come on!  When does Mom intend to drop sixty bucks on sparkly size ten Chucks for ME?  I can hope…and hope…

The daughter has only recently begun expressing opinions about her clothes.  My clearance-rack collection for fall contained some real losers, but I still thought that anything with a peace sign was automatically on the cool list.  Nope.  Peace signs on a brown background, no.  Peace signs on black, yes.  Brown is not her color, I now know. No brown shoes.  No brown pants.  Something about brown is embarrassing or unflattering.  Also, no bib overalls, no short puffy skirts unless they are meant to be worn OVER skinny leggings, and please please please no empire-waisted pastel anything.  That stuff is for dress-up, not going in public.  No khaki of any kind, or olive drab, or navy.  Navy looks like black that forgot what it was doing before it got to the finish line in the dye pot.

None of this comes as much of a surprise.  Those general rules, except for bibs for gardening, have come straight from the mouth of Mommy, about Mommy herself.

Thank goodness–CAN I SAY THIS LOUDLY ENOUGH?–I don’t have body image issues.  Thank goodness I am a human coat hanger despite my chocolate consumption, and when curves have blessed my frame, I’ve enjoyed every one while it lasted.  Thank goodness I think I’m damn fine for almost-forty, and I accept time and gravity as they approach.  Born ugly, I can now say to the world, “Fuck you.  I am this, and I call it beautiful.”  My girl will never hear me complain at the woman, helpless, in the mirror.  She might think that khaki looks like puke next to my–and her–baloney-fair skin, and she’ll be right for thinking that. So does pale yellow, another banned color, and peach.  Peach looks lovely on her, almost monochromatic, but my hair turns green near the color.  The daughter looks at me but sees herself.  I have to be beautiful inside and out, with that kind of gaze upon me.

Picture Day in my childhood was full of excitement when I was very little, and dread when I was older.  My own beautiful mother’s compliments were never quieted by my classmates’ insults, but the contrast injured my spirit.  Which of them was right?  My idea of a good outfit rarely matched what was in style.  I’m sorry, but baggy sweatshirts and skinny jeans didn’t look good on me then, and sure don’t now. Neon pink?  Gag me with a spoon.

I wonder what my small person will choose for Picture Day from the limited selection at the store tonight?  I intend to say yes to whatever she loves.  Aunt Beth wants to fix her hair in the morning, too.  This is a big day.  She is beautiful, but last year’s pictures show a tired little girl in everyday clothes.  We forgot.  This year, she needs to shine, so she can look back at second grade and be reminded of when we were so very young and life had become easy and beautiful.