I read this article in a MOPS magazine (Mothers of PreSchoolers) in the July/August issue of 2006, and I've had it on my refridgerator since! I love it...it really impresses on me the importance of treating your children special (especially when it's difficult).
Flannel in the Food Court
by Emily O. Wilson, Chicken Soup for the Mother of Preschooler's Soul.
The smell of our wet golden retriever filled the bedroom, confirming that the tippety-tap against my window was rain. I buried myself deeper under the comforter in hopes of delaying the usual morning chaos. My husband hustled around getting ready for work as I milked every last minute of relaxation. Suddenly, I heard the sound of mousy footsteps coming down the hallway and a 3-year-old voice filled with anticipation singing, "Good morning, Mommy! Is it pajama day?"
"Yes, it is!" I smiled as I pulled back the covers and lifted Hayley into the warm bed. She held my face in her hands, rubbed noses, then laced a big wet kiss on my lips.
Fridays are the best days of the week. Fridays are "Pajama Days." They were birthed on cold, crummy morning from an overflowing laundry basket. I had decided to rewash an entire load of laundry that had been sitting unfolded in the basket for several days. It seemed like a less daunting task than ironing the wrinkled wardrobe. Unfortunately, there were several loads of laundry waiting patiently for a spin and not many clean choices. So pajamas made the cut for the day's outfits. By lunchtime my daughter asked, "When do we get dressed?" I stopped for a moment, and then unexpectedly said, "Don't you know? Fridays are Pajama Days! We get to stay in them all day long!"
Here we were, on a perfect Friday morning. Gray clouds hovered outside, bordering a dense black sky. The rain was light but persistent. This was a perfect day to be inside all day in our pajamas.
"What would you like to do today?" I asked, envisioning us baking chocolate chip cookies and finger painting. Without hesitation Hayley said, "Today we'll make bears. You promised we'd make bears, and today is the day."
Suddenly the rain outside sounded ominous. My head started to ache as I quickly searched through my mental filing system. Yes, I had promised that we would go this week and make teddy bears. There is an upscale mall about 30 minutes from our house filled with boutiques and specialty shops, and the toy sore there lets you make your own stuffed animal. You pick out the style, stuff it, sew it, bathe it and clothe it. Hayley had never made a bear before but several friends had eagerly shown her their creations. But today?
I'm not sure if it was the multitude of kisses covering my face or the big brown pleading eyes, but I quickly caved in. "Well, let's get ready quickly, and we can even have breakfast at the food court. OK?"
Hayley and I began preparing for our teddy bear date. When I walked into the family room, there she stood in her purple fleecy-footed pajamas, bright pink robe with an embroidered purple butterfly, sunglasses, purse, and a book fittingly titled Pajama Time by Sandra Boynton. She took a good look at me and asked, "Where are your pajamas, Mommy?" Her voice wavered just a little. "It is Pajama Day, right?" "Yes, but we aren't going to stay home," I said, "so we need to put on some clothes."
The perfect pouter wound herself up and whined, "Pajamas are clothes." Tears welled up in her eyes. A knot formed in my stomach, rolling around and around and pushed its way up my throat, making me want to cry our yell - anything but stay calm and rational. This day wasn't turning out the way I had anticipated.
I closed my eyes for a second to balance myself before I addressed the inevitable temper tantrum, reminding myself that she was just three, and this was her day too. And then I was knocked off balance as I heard myself say, "You're right."
The 30-minute drive went by quickly as I listened to song after made-up song about pajama days, teddy bears, and hot chocolate. Hayley was elated. And I was preparing for the most embarrassing day of my life. As we walked from our car to the mall entrance, I kept glancing around to see if anyone was watching. I made a grand attempt to disguise my outfit with glamorous hair and makeup. But there was no mistaking my gray-and-red plaid flannel pajamas for anything other than pajamas. And the old cranberry terry cloth robe was a poor imitation of a coat.
The mall was quiet. The fountains weren't turned on yet, and the shops were still dark. I began to feel comfortable and relaxed as I thought, This isn't so bad; no one is even here yet. As we entered the food court, the scenery quickly changed. When I saw the long line at the coffee stand, I gasped. What in the world were these people going to think? What kind of mom lets her child go to the mall in a robe and pajamas? And what kind of woman dons the same ensemble? The swish swish of Hayley's footed pajamas on the mall floor echoed loudly as she shuffled ahead of me. There was no turning back now.
Eyes peered curiously at the two of us as we stood in line for our hot chocolate and chocolate cream cheese muffins. Here I was in my flannel pajamas, robe, and slippers in one of the finest malls I have ever been to, all for the sake of keeping our Friday Pajama Day tradition sacred. I obviously had lost control to a 3-year-old.
A gentleman in a business suit began talking with Hayley. Before he could ask the obvious question, Hayley announced to him, the cashier, and several other onlookers, "Today is Pajama Day! On Fridays we wear pajamas all day!"
"Those are the best kinds of days to have," said the businessman. "I wish I could have worn my pajamas today; instead I had to wear this suit."
Hayley nodded her head and then patted the man's hand.
"I'm sorry, not everyone had a mom like mine," she said.
It was the best Pajama Day ever.