When Your Child is a Wacky Dresser

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Why it’s important to let go of your child’s appearance

By Emily Franklin
(this is a magazine article that appeared in Parenting)

At the playground my 3-year-old daughter, Julia, is busy climbing the rope ladder to the top of the curvy slide. I wrestle with the wood chips that invade my flip-flops and wave to her. Julia returns the gesture, her wave all arm as though she’s flagging down a ship. Around me other parents, caregivers, grandparents do the playground dance of half-noticing someone else’s child.

“She’s so adorable,” an older woman says. I smile a thank-you. Another mom helps her toddler on the swings. She studies Julia and then starts with playground chatter. “You’re brave.” I assume she means letting Julia climb to the top of the rope ladder. “She’ll be fine. She’s a great climber.”

“Not the rope.” She points to Julia, who is now running the length of the wooden bridge, her untamed curls bobbing in the fall wind. “I mean — she’s so colorful!”

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