I love dresses. I find them generally more comfortable than shorts or pants. No matter how easy it actually is to slip on a dress, wearing a dress (or a skirt) seems to make you look more “put together” than you would otherwise. And, of course, a light dress is nice and cool in the summer. But despite the many praises of dresses, sometimes a girl needs to wear pants. Horseback riding. In the lab. And, of course, hiking.
Five years ago, when I thought I had two little boys, I often dressed them in jeans or overalls (matching them as often as I could for maximum cuteness). When Middle started to form her gender identity she progressed from blue jeans, to sweatpants with a dress over them, to a pair of purple skinny jeans with a dress or T-shirt, to leggings and a dress, and finally dresses or skirts ONLY. Pants were summarily rejected and on the few occasions when she really needed to wear them – like going on a hike thourgh poison oak territory – it was a drawn out ordeal to coax her into purple girls hiking pants.
This past week we went on an amazing coastal vacation that involved hiking though redwood forests. Before our trip, I took Middle to a local, inexpensive chain store and had her try on pants. She selected a pair of magenta skinny jeans and a pair of plain girls blue jeans. While she seemed happy with our purchase I didn’t know what would happen when the time came at the campsite to actually don the previously offensive garmets. The morning of our first big hiking day Middle woke up and with excitement selected the magenta pants along with a shirt emblazoned with kittens and flowers. Two days later she wore the blue jeans – by choice (even when she had skirts to choose from) on a trip to the aquarium. There isn’t a page in the baby book for the “finally feels secure enough in her gendter to wear pants without a fight” milestone. Maybe it sounds silly, maybe not, but I alomsot cired that day in the forest, watching her little pink pantsed butt heappily run ahead of me on the trail. Pants are back in the closet!