Pretty is As Handsome Does

P8I like to wear dresses. (Insert pause for regular readers to faint from shock). I know, it doesn’t really fit with my ranch girl, tomboy persona, but now that nylon stockings have gone the way of the dinosaur, dresses are easy and comfortable. Plus there is my utter hatred of dress pants.

Where do women with actual thighs and butts buy dress pants? Not in any of the stores where I shop. The legs are so tight they could double as a tourniquet, the waist gaps out four inches at the back, and as the day wears on the crotch becomes progressively baggy, with the net result being that I look like twenty pounds of mud stuffed into a ten pound bag. Sort of lumpy and oddly shaped.

So when the weather allows, I wear skirts and dresses instead. My son, observant soul that he is, never seemed to notice when I was going to work regularly. Now that I’ve dropped back to very part time, he suddenly pays attention when he sees me get dressed up.

“Mommy, why do you look like that?”

“Like what?”

“You’re all pretty.”

“I like to be pretty.”

“Oh.”

Discussion ended, until the next day. Understand, this is a child who has little or no opinion on his clothes other than whatever he is wearing, he doesn’t want to take it off, and whatever you’re pushing, he doesn’t want to put it on. It’s a struggle to get him out of his pajamas in the morning (“But I love my jammies!”), another pitched battle to get him back into them at night (“But I don’t want to go to bed!”). His only true aversion: he doesn’t like button down shirts. Give him t-shirts, sweatshirts, polo shirts, he’s cool, but a long-sleeved dress shirt? He’ll be peeling that sucker off the second he gets a chance, so we reserve that battle for when he has to look more presentable than usual. School programs, weddings, funerals. And once we wrestle him into it, we lavish him with praise.

“You look so handsome in that shirt!”

“Yeah. I know.” Add eye roll for good measure.

Flash back to Tuesday. Now that I’m doing the ranch thing pretty much full time, I dragged some old long-sleeved rodeo shirts out of mothballs to wear for work, mostly to keep the mosquitoes at bay. When I walked into the kitchen, the boy took a good look at me and said, “Mommy, why do you look handsome? I thought you liked to look pretty.”

“Uh,” I said, my mind taking a couple of beats to realize he was equating my shirt with the compliments we give him. “Um, sometimes I like to look handsome, instead.”

“So girls can look pretty or look handsome?”

“Uh…” Sheesh. How many gender hangups am I creating in this one conversation? “Yes. Girls can be handsome, too.”

And then, thank the Lord, the youtube video he was downloading finished buffering and started to play, snatching his attention before he could ask, “Can boys look pretty?”

The answer, of course, is yes, but I’m not sure how far I want his literal little mind to go with that explanation at this point in his life. After all, he’s only about two sizes smaller than me and I am very protective of my closet. And don’t even be touching my shoes.

Kari Lynn Dell – Montana for Real