M y toddler has the type of fierce independence I imagine the British colonists possessed when they landed on American soil and fought for their freedom. When she insists on choosing her clothes every day and the outcome is disastrous, I remind myself how far we’ve come precisely because of those great British men who transformed themselves into great American men. Independence is something you shouldn’t have to fight for; it is meant to be handed to you at birth, like the right to be.

Today, though — just for today — I want to withdraw that right.

Today, most of the mothers and kids from the neighborhood are getting together at the park. Many families are new to this area and we are all on the look-out for like-minded folks. Today is the day we get to meet.

As if she senses the significance of this day, my daughter eyes her clothes carefully.

I tried to prepare for this, the inevitable wardrobe disasters, with the type of forward thinking that could win me awards for forward thinking. I bought jean. You can’t go wrong with jean. Jean matches everything. So into her drawers went leggings, skirts, dresses, and shirts in the mighty, flawless fabric: jean.

Then one day, around a month ago, my sweet girl announced, “Mommy, I don’t like jean. Also, dresses.”

And I tried very hard not to look in her closet to see just how many adorable dresses and jean things aligned themselves like soldiers on the ready; pristine, fresh, smelling like new, and beautiful.

There’s no way of knowing which of her stages will last two weeks or two years, and as my daughter scans her clothes with critical eyes, I find myself mumbling prayers that this stage is of the two-week variety.

Alas, it is not to be.

Today she dresses herself in a pair of leopard leggings, a navy blue skirt with little white hearts, and a gray-and-cream striped shirt with “Gap” emblazoned in purple across the center.

I try gentle coaxing. I show her some pretty things stowed away in the back of her closet for desperate times, for which this certainly qualifies. But she is adamant, looking at me expectantly. After all this time of her choosing by herself, for me to choose her clothes is as preposterous as Britain reclaiming America for its own.

My little girl waits.

I clear my throat, swallow. “Sweetie, you chose such… nice things.”

She smiles and jumps away, feet encased in pink Converse sneakers that arrived in their Amazon box just yesterday. They are also a full size too large because I only bothered to read the reviews after she tried them on and fell in love with them. And it seems that an odd surge of unity exists among those commenting on kids’ Converse sneakers because every reviewer agrees to size down. But now it’s too late for all that because they are not allowed off her feet. (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 573)