Who are you wearing?

By Feature Writer Rebecca Nelson Lubin
guest Wednesday they had pajama day at my charge’s school. The flyer that the teachers sent home announcing the upcoming pajama day included a picture of my almost four-year-old charge, clad in his favorite navy GAP fleece pajamas and proclaimed that on December 8th all the preschool children were invited to wear their pajamas to school too, as he does every single day. This pajama habit began just shortly after he turned two. He told us he liked to be cozy during the day, and seriously, who could argue with that? I have no problem with indulging him because sadly, this pajama fetish is not going to last much longer. Some day soon he will grow a little more, realize that everyone else is wearing clothes to school, and fall in with the herd. And I for one will miss the old days, when footsie pajamas topped off with crocs was the height of his fashion sense.

I’ve always found it adorable when pre-schoolers begin to dress themselves. It’s truly a time of unadulterated expression, before the filters of society have a chance to creep into their little brains and they begin to censor themselves. I once Nannied for a little girl who loved ballet, and at three she dressed in a tutu every single day – with several costume changes every few hours – and wore out her ballet shoes by wearing them to the park. She never took a class. It was simply what she liked to wear. My darling Sierra received a “ball gown” when she was four and she donned it appropriate wear for the backyard trampoline, no matter how many times her father told her it was to wear at Christmas to see “The Nutcracker.” The older brother of Pajama Boy would cringe to be reminded now, at the mature age of ten and a half – but when he was five, he would only dress in Halloween type costumes. The cop one was his favorite, and there were many walks downtown with him in full dress and sporting a utility belt with a pretend service revolver, handcuff, walkie – talkie and a little plastic Billy Club. To anyone who dared to tell him looked adorable got a stink eyes stare, a gun drawn on them and orders to turn around slowly and place their hands behind their backs.

Perhaps it’s us adults who need to let go a little and not put the little children in our lives into pretty little boxes. Yesterday I played for two hours with the sixteen month old little sister of Pajama Boy. What did I do? I followed her around with a pretty silk bow and a tutu pleading, “Don’t you want to look pretty?”

She kept playing with her books, rocking her applesauce-stained sweatpants and telling me, “No.”

Perhaps she’ll be the sort of little girl I was, only wanting to dress in her older brother’s hand me downs instead of the dresses my mother kept buying me. My older brother would only wear the color beige, because that was the color of our Dad’s car. I’m sure my mother wasn’t the only parent to wash the same pair of pants every night. I know I’ve clocked many hours in front of the dryer, waiting for that one favorite green shirt to be ready to wear. Again.

Give me a kid in a cape any day. I’ll always resonate with the kid with the independent fashion sense. Even if the shirt is inside out and the pants are on backwards. And he can’t move his feet because he’s stuck both down one pant leg.
Rebecca Nelson Lubin is a writer and Nanny who resides in the San Francisco Bay Area. You may read more of her articles at


mumstheword said...

Too cute! but if the author believes that children should be free to express themselves as they choose, why did she chase after the little girl for two hours trying to get her to wear a costume???

Miss Poppins said...

My thoughts exactly, mum! But it is so cute when kids, especially boys, dress up. One of my charges almost always greets me dressed in some crazy day superman, one day a 1920's gangster. It's always an that inevitably ends with me getting tied to a chair :)

slb3334 said...

I remember a couple of girls I used to watch. They were 8 and 6 and were allowed to wear whatever they wanted to for school as long as it wasn't inappropriate. Came up with some interesting outfits, including stripes and plaids at the same times. Only time I said something was when the 6 year old wanted to wear a halter dress to school. Uh, no.

Wren said...

I wish my kid's parents were like this! they are so consumed with appearances, that they force her to wear dresses when all she wants to wear are 'boy clothes' like plain shirts and pants. children should be allowed to explore this creative side of themselves!

tutu cute! said...

I love this post!!! My 3 yr old charge wears a tutu to preschool every single day. One of the mothers of another child stopped me once and said that 'she should be wearing proper clothing, and you are not doing your job by letting her wear costumes to school' I found it funny, because i have the same philosophy as you, soon enough she'll see what the other kids are wearing and want to look like them. Now that it's winter, she will wear extra thick leggings, and a sweater overtop of the body suit. it's so sweet because as long as her tutu is still sticking out she is happy as a clam!
re-post for anonymous

Manhattan Nanny said...

A couple of frigid winters ago it became a fad in my charges private girls school to wear pajama bottoms under their boring uniforms back and forth to school, in lieu of sweat pants (the wilder and crazier the pattern the better) The practice spread to other schools. Sadly, heads of schools don't like self expression, and the winter streets are dull again.