This I Believe

Terri - Portland, Oregon
Entered on February 13, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65
Themes: children
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I believe in the right of children to wear mismatched socks.

When my daughter was barely 3 years old, she had her own way of dressing. Choosing clothes for her wasn’t an option for me; she could and would do it herself. So, day after day, she would don her pick of fashion. Her color choices were unique, her pattern matches creative, and her socks…well…mismatched. She wasn’t making a statement; she was choosing what she liked.

Several well-meaning friends and family members suggested that, as a responsible parent, it was my job to set her straight and let her know that neon chartreuse screamed at quiet lavender and paisley curdled against plaid. Most importantly, a yellow-flowered sock should be matched with its twin and not with the blue-dotted orphan. They had genuine concerns. “What would other kids say?” “What if they make fun of her?” My response was that other kids might make fun, might point out her mistakes (if, in fact, they were mistakes), but it was her choice. Who was I to dictate and manipulate her creativity? If she didn’t like the taunting, she could change what she was doing.

Does that sound irresponsible?

Have you ever noticed how amazingly creative children are? In pre-school, kids go wild with color and designs. They create abstract art without evening knowing that is what they are doing. They have no inhibitions about expressing themselves openly.

As they grow, we, as responsible adults, begin to guide their enthusiasms. We tell them what looks right and what doesn’t. In doing so, we begin to squelch their creativity and their ease of communicating their thoughts. As children get older, they begin to shy away from drawing an interesting, colorful design or writing from their heart. They become concerned with what others will think. We mean well. Our children do need to get along in society. But, do they need to match?

A few kids did laugh at my daughter’s choice of socks. That happened when she was around 5 and kids, who didn’t care before—didn’t even notice—began to learn that matched socks mattered.

Well, my daughter is now 10 and still wears mismatched socks. She’s also an amazing writer and inventor, has a wonderful imagination, and is just an all-around terrific person. Did this have anything to do with her right to wear mismatched socks? Maybe not, but you’ll never convince me.