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I’m trailing my daughter as we slowly walk towards her classroom door. She is a vision: how else to explain a chic leopard-print button down cardigan worn over bike shorts bearing a cheerful pattern of green smiling frogs on hot pink lily pads? The ensemble is completed with white sandals decorated with a trio of Disney princesses across the arches that light up with each step … a necessary touch apparently.  


My child’s blond hair is a spinning cocoon of bed-head poof that would leave Lady Ga Ga impressed and dually, provide quite a nest for some rat. 


It would take serious dollops of heavy-duty conditioner and a sturdy wide-toothed comb to untangle that cotton-candy web poofing out behind her—speaking from experience. Unfortunately this morning her strong will crushed my pleas. Our late morning start was her leverage. 


I slow my step, secretly willing a distance myself from this patchwork cacophony to communicate a certain distinction between me and my offspring. I can’t help but feel the pull on my identity.  


Does it speak to a greater family connection if our styles complement one another? Do we yell family unity if we don matching outfits like the families at Disneyland down to matching navy hair bows and red sneakers? Does the fact I’m in minimalist dark jeans and a chocolate brown t-shirt juxtaposed against the dance of color of Grace’s outfit—a curious chiaroscuro might just occur if we embrace for a photo—imply family dysfunction? 


But if I were to attempt to complement my kid at this moment I’d resemble Courtney Love. I don’t know how well that would fly at our school. 


How to explain her selected clash of color, the mix of patterns? Now, Christian Lacroix combines patterns in vibrant, energetic ways; maybe she’s a visionary! What about a preppy-grunge influence by the tidy button-down cardigan juxtaposed against the Lilly-Pulitzer color palette shorts?  


I squint further at her backside, trying to find a unifying color or patterned theme, a Rosetta stone of sorts that will translate the chaotic mix. But black and brown leopard markings don’t jibe with chartreuse frogs on magenta lily pads no matter how hard you squint. 


I feel a gush of crisp Fall morning air and my eyes dart to those sandals lighting up like miniature Christmas lights with each clippity-clop step. 


If this chaotic combo happened once, I’d blame a bad run-in with the fashion fates. But this has become her favorite ensemble! 


So is this how it begins, the wild hair morphing to Mohawks with swiss-cheese piercings overwhelming once soft-pink skin? Ratted t-shirts revealing even rattier bra straps and tight red plaid schoolboy trousers replacing the froggy shorts? Disney princess sandals becoming military Doc Martins … All because the poor child’s Mother didn’t take a firmer stand at the closet doors, the threshold to a more stable, practical future? 


She waits sweetly while I pry open the heavy preschool door. 


I focus my gaze nervously on the bright classroom of children milling about, hoping to avoid any looks of disapproval from their parents or teachers. 


The cute coordinated outfits all look up and welcome Miss Rebellion without a second look before heading out together to play.

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