Monday, May 17, 2010

Baby clothes

I think I can get pretty obsessed when it comes to buying baby clothes. Even to the point of planning what clothes to get Salma once she's a little older. But I hide all this from my husband, and do it secretly in my head (or hide bigger sized clothes in the bottom drawer). I enjoy shopping for clothes for my daughter even more than I enjoy shopping for my own clothes. Mostly because she doesn't have to spend hours in the fitting room, and guaranteed she will wear the clothes I bought her, no matter what. So the satisfaction is immediate.

When she was about 3-6 months old, my parents and even my husband bought her "baju basahan" (roughly translated to mean clothes that you can get dirty in, that are not necessarily attractive) whenever they saw cheap baby clothes, and as a result, she had 2 sets of clothes - clothes that she can get messy in, and clothes that she wore out or for parties, or just nice clothes. Then shortly after she reached 7 months old, 2 things happened to make me stop buying her "baju basahan". The first incident took place at her school. There was one boy, (I don't even remember his name, and I don't think he goes to her school anymore) that was always hiding in the toy cupboard. It's not a real cupboard. It's the cupboard of the toy kitchen set that the school has in their main room. This boy would love to hide himself in there, and the teachers would have a hard time trying to coax him to come out. He preferred to sit in there. His parents always dressed him in really old pajamas, even during the daytime. I had been seeing this boy's strange behaviour every single time I visited Salma at lunch to breastfeed her. At home, I would feel sad about that boy and wonder if the other kids were alienating him. It seemed like he had self-esteem issues. Then one day it dawned on me. Perhaps his clothes (ratty looking things) were what made the other kids alienate him. And I think this to be true, because subconsciously, we are all attracted to pretty things. If you were lost and had to ask for directions and came to a group of 5 strangers, you would naturally ask the cleanest, neatest, most attractive person for directions as opposed to a dirty, unkempt, ratty-looking person.

Then I watched this documentary on Discovery, the one with the Professor with the curly hair and beard, and they did a study on children in the classroom, and they found out that it is more likely for a child who dressed presentably to have more friends than a child that didn't. There was a child (a girl) whose parents rarely tied her hair up for school, and because of this, she always looked messy. (She was very young, maybe 5 years old). And because of that, she only had 1 friend, as opposed to this other girl in her class, who may not be as pretty, but because she always had her hair in braids and she dressed nicely, she had more friends. Kids can be really shallow. But they are shallow because they haven't developed those people skills yet, or the mental capacity to judge personality over appearance.

So because of these 2 events, I made it a point to stop buying Salma "baju basahan" and to make sure that she wears nice clothes (clothes that we used to only make her wear when she goes out on trips with us) everyday. Even at home. Plus, I got tired of separating her cupboard into 2 sections. However, having said that, I can see the positive effect this had on her confidence and personality. As she grew older, she became bolder and more vocal in school. She even became more popular. I judge her popularity on the number of kids that actually go to the door to say bye to her when she leaves. She suffered from separation anxiety less in school. She liked to receive compliments on how she looked, and makes an effort to brush her own hair. She asks to wear a hairband now to compliment an outfit, because she knows the hairband makes her look more feminine. And now, she is starting to choose her own clothes.

I think teaching kids about the importance of looking presentable should be done early, and I'm glad I started early with Salma.

But back to my original topic - I am obsessed with baby clothes shopping. Each time I go out to a shopping mall, I scope out the baby stores to see if there is anything new or if their stuff is on sale. I scope the stores out for specific pieces of clothing, such as a denim skirt, or a floral top (to go with bottoms she already has at home). I am so not one of those parents that buy the same outfit but in different colors for their kids. Each piece of clothing should be unique, and have its own identity. I think I'll do this even when I have a second child. This even extends to her pajamas. Although, I don't make it a point to have them to be so pretty, but as long as they are not ugly, or not boys pajamas, that's okay.


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