Kate Kirkle for 7/11

Three-year-old Kate Kirkle riding her bike without a care in the world.

As moms, we often have to choose our battles.

Sure, we’ve got those set-in-stone, unflinchingly rigid rules that can never be broken, but sometimes we waver on the smaller, less important issues.

I find myself wavering a lot lately. I accept some unconventional behaviors from my toddler simply because I can’t come up with a good reason as to why they’re not OK. It probably speaks to my exhaustion more than anything else. Some days I’m just too tired to come up with a good reason when the kid asks “Why?” for the 50th time that hour.

For example, my daughter is totally unorthodox with her eating utensils. Just this morning, I toasted a bagel for her. As soon as I set it on the table, she had to get up and fetch a fork. At 5:30 a.m., my eyes were still at half-mast, so I just stood there and watched. She sat back down, stabbed her fork into that bagel, lifted it to her mouth and took a bite.

“Kate, you don’t eat a bagel with a fork. Just pick it up with your fingers.”

“But it’s hot, mommy," she said, eyeballing me as if I were a bit dim. "We don’t touch hot things.”

I don’t know if it was the hour of day or if I’m just dangerously short on brain cells, but this made a shocking amount of sense to me. I watched her eat and considered whether or not it’s possible that I’ve been eating bagels incorrectly my entire life. She also forks whole pieces of pizza and uncut apples (so her hands don’t get sticky).

And for the life of me, I cannot think of a good reason to stop her.

She does the same thing with clothes. She dresses in her own way. In her opinion, everything that matches should be worn together, regardless of how much clothing is already on her body or what category said apparel falls into. If it’s of the same hue, it should be worn at the same time.

Her favorite outfit as of late consists of black leggings with black gym shorts over them, black Halloween socks pulled up to the knees and her black patent-leather Mary Janes. On top she sports her fuzzy black sweatshirt and then she rolls with the smooth cool of a black hand-me-down vest that her sister wore in middle school. (My kiddo is 3, not 13, FYI.)

She accessorizes this preschool couture with a black kitty purse, black mittens and every black barrette she owns. It is a LOT.

I love clothes, so I’m all-in for her figuring out her own personal style aesthetic. But she looks like she is using her body as a duffel bag, carrying every article of clothing she owns upon her body. When I encourage her to wear something else, she inquires as to what exactly is wrong with her outfit.

“It matches, mommy.”

“Well, yes, it does.”

“And it’s very warm.”

Yeah, she was definitely hardcore running with the whole layering thing. “That’s true, but…”

“Don’t you think it’s beautiful?”

Hmmm. Now, the honest truth about the outfit? The kid looked like a walking, talking Goodwill donation bag. But technically, she was 100 percent right and hitting all the points of practicality with that ensemble. So what exactly was the problem with it?

“Yes. I do.” Ahem. “It is very beautiful.”

The kid might not do things the way I do them, but I’m starting to think that could be a good thing. Now, go get me a fork for my bagel.


Lynn Kirkle is a writer and lives in Omaha with her husband and five children. She writes twice a month for momaha.com, and can be found on Twitter @LAPainter.

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