The Pink Dress
-Maija Threlkeld, Divine Caroline
It transforms her. In it she is an enchantress, yet fearless. There’s the confidence to twirl at will and serenade with exuberance. Life is richer, fuller, more enchanting. Or so it seems to my two-year-old whenever she slips on her favorite pink cotton dress with its short puffed sleeves and full skirt.
Coco Chanel had her knit jacket. Jackie O had her sleeveless Oleg Cassini. Grace has her Spring 2004 (a wild guess given it’s a hand-me-down from her older sister) cotton candy pink cotton dress decorated with streams of multi-colored ruffles down its skirt and an embroidered butterfly on its bodice. Her ‘It’ ensemble.
Never mind that Grace’s selection happens to be the perfect outfit for an afternoon tea party on a sunny spring day with the girls. Or attending church on Easter Sunday. Instead it’s worn down to the creek to catch tadpoles or while squatting in the sandbox making wet sand cakes. Or on a chilly weekday morning without the practical fleece pullover since that would ruin the desired Princess affect.
I’ve tried to attempt a life without The Dress.
If I manage to get my two-year-old dressed, and might I add quickly, there’s a slight chance that the swiftness of the act will distract her from immediately noticing that I selected the outfit. There’s the rare but reasonable chance that we will venture out into the world together with visible evidence that Grace owns more than that pink cotton dress. But to a good majority of the world, Grace and her uniform are one.
She looks like the impractical socialite of the toddler set crashing the casual BBQ.
Then there’s the fact that it’s wrinkled. Make that more wrinkled than not. “I thought that was the look,” one Mom politely offered. Bless her, she must iron. I don’t-especially not a dress worn almost daily.
Generally Grace searches me out when I’m most vulnerable and half-aware. During our manic morning rush, she’ll greet me with “this one Mommy!” happily holding up her adored party dress while I’m distractedly brushing my teeth. How to reason with a strong-willed toddler? You can’t.
Being a mere amateur, I have actually tried explaining, “No sweetie, you wore that yesterday,” which was met by her blank stare and a repeat “this one” delivered with toddler edginess.
Just the other day Grace fished it out of the laundry and I tried to meet her meticulous side with “but it’s dirty. Look, dirty, dirty!” pointing to chocolate marks. When that didn’t work, I actually appealed to her reason, “That’s dog pooh-pooh. You don’t want to wear dog pooh. Let Mommy wash it first.” I’m still troubled that she wasn’t phased in the slightest.
When I finally do give in with a sigh and Grace happily reaches her little arms up to put on The Dress, her body utterly swoons. She extends her arms from her sides daintily, fingers arched back, then curves her neck to the side and twirls, twirls, twirls. Visions of Disney princesses surely dancing in her toddler head.
She feels like a princess, which at present means she feels like Grace. I guess Grace is supposed to be party-ready, even if it’s a hike or gearing up for the park.
Right now I love the idea of variety in her attire, but I’ll miss the day that “this one, this pink dress” is no longer requested. I imagine that I’ll tuck it away in a drawer and take a peek each morning to greet the memories it conjures.
This pink dress is Grace at two years old. I’m glad to watch a memory unfold.
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