Saturday, February 25, 2012

First Time Shopping for Clothes

There are so many "firsts" to celebrate with our kids. Having a child with special needs means you don't always get to celebrate the typical firsts. Sometimes the firsts come much later than other kids… or in a different form. We have had several belated-firsts in the last week. Lilli wore a real necklace (first time ever) that she picked out herself. She tried her very first hot dog (did not care for it). I taught her how to play dominos. One morning she fell, and typed to me exactly where she got hurt. She has never been able to do that before. It is significant because I cannot say to Lilli, "Show me where it hurts" or have her point. She can't. I don't know why, but that is difficult for her. So being able to type to me about where she was hurt was huge.

By far, the most exciting "first" was clothes shopping last weekend. Years ago, I never dreamed that we would take eight year old Lilli shopping at the mall, and she would pick out her own clothes to buy. It was an amazing experience, and we all got choked up about it. We have taken several shopping trips in the last few weeks, and we've taken the ipad to have Lilli type about what she wants to buy. She has her own money from Christmas and birthday gifts, and I want to give her the opportunity to experience going out in the community, making choices, counting money, and interacting with people in a store. It is usually exhausting and afterwards, I wonder why we attempt these trips with three kids. I absolutely could not do it without Morgan's help. Most shopping trips have a highlight of someone collapsing in the middle of the store or top-volume crying and whining in frustration. However, for the first time ever we are able to ask Lilli to pick something, and help her make choices with the ipad. That is a thrill for me. I can actually get her something that she wants, instead of just guessing.

Most shopping trips we have taken included one choice for a small item like something from the dollar section at Target or a book from the bookstore. We have never gone shopping for clothes together. Certainly never actually entered a dressing room and tried clothes on. That would have been sheer torture in the past. I have always just picked out Lilli's clothes and brought them home for her. I have dressed her all of her life, and I never got any inkling that she cared about what she wore. I am a practical, thrifty mom and I don't have great fashion sense. I figured her clothes were fine. Then, a few weeks ago Lilli typed to Morgan that she was not all that crazy about her clothes. She used the word "hate" again. (I need to get on her about using that word so much.)

Before I knew how she really felt about her wardrobe, I was glad to just have her take part in the selection each day. Even if it was half-hearted. For the past month or so I have been putting outfits out and asking her to touch the one she wanted to wear. I was excited that she was making choices. Sometimes I would ask her to type what color shirt she wanted. Meanwhile she was probably thinking, I don't want to wear any of them, mom! I don't like them! No wait, actually, she was probably thinking, I "hate" them.

Hearing that Lilli did not like her clothes was just another slap on the forehead, how could I be so blind? kind of moment for me. Lilli has a lot of elastic waistband leggings and sweatpants. I did not even know what "jeggings" were until about a month ago. (Fashion is not high on my priority list). Her shirts, well, I thought they were cute but as I said earlier, I'm practical and frugal. So Lilli wants to wear jeans and cool tops. Of course! She is a girl. Good for Lilli, my friends are probably thinking, because they know that her boring mother always wears the same pair of jeans and a black top. I think it must be one of the first fights a mom has with her daughter: conflict over the outfit the daughter wants to wear. I had that first fight with Chloe years ago! We have worked it out for the most part. We pick Chloe's outfit out the night before to avoid morning meltdowns. The "outfit," complete with accessories, is important to Chloe. But it never crossed my mind that it might be important to Lilli. I could never have the "What do you want to wear?" discussion with Lilli…until now.

My sister flew down to visit last weekend. She could not stand missing out on everything that has been happening with Lilli. When I told her that Lilli was not thrilled about most of her wardrobe, she jumped on the chance to treat Lilli to a shopping trip to the Justice store in the mall. Apparently, it is THE place for an eight year old to shop. My sister Heather, Morgan, Chloe, Josh, Lilli, and I all went to the mall for this one mission.

Justice is the coolest store for a little girl. Aunt Heather let Lilli pick out what she wanted. We took an armful of outfits back to the dressing room and tried them on Lilli. The whole time I just kept thinking, I can't believe this, we have never done this. She glanced at herself in the mirror and we asked her what she thought of each outfit. We put her in a cool peach and lavender skirt with a peach top, and I loved it on her. I thought it was a keeper, until she typed on the ipad: "Rather have green." Oh how I love this girl. She really has opinions! And oh, how we love the ipad. If she had not been able to type her preferences to us, we would have come home with the peach outfit. You cannot tell what Lilli is thinking just by watching her.

We came home with a bag of awesome clothes for Lilli. (Mostly green.) Chloe got a small little treat, but no clothes this time. I explained to her that this shopping trip was for Lilli and that she needed to be happy for her sister. I told her it was kind of like when you go to someone else's birthday party and watch them open gifts. Sometimes it is your birthday, and sometimes it is someone else's birthday. I wanted her to understand that concept of feeling joy over someone else's happiness. Chloe has had many shopping trips with me where she got to pick things out herself. Lilli is older, and is only just now getting that chance. After I explained it, she was ok with it.

The thing is, every day feels a little like a birthday right now with Lilli. All of these first time experiences are so special because we never knew if we would have them with Lilli. There is always hope for the future. Hope is what keeps us going in life. I would rather hope for something to happen, than live my life thinking, well, this is all there is. And much to my delight, sometimes the things you hope and pray for in life really do happen. Just ask Lilli, who has probably been praying for a pair of jeggings for three years. And now she has the coolest pair of jeggings an eight year old could want.

Lilli's new jeans and top from Justice. I had to make her stand in the corner, poor kid, because the rest of the house is filled with clutter like toys, shoes and random stuff. This was the cleanest place I could find.





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