Monday, April 19, 2010

Clothes Make the Man

There’s an old saying that “Clothes make the man.” Now, I don’t believe that what a person wears has any bearing on his or her character, but I certainly do believe that what a person wears has a very strong effect on his or her behavior. When I’m dressed up in a fancy cocktail dress or a formal gown, I stand a little straighter, I walk a little taller (and perhaps with a bit more sway), and I’m much more aware of using my “party manners”. When I’m in jeans and an oversized sweatshirt, I’m more likely to slouch, shuffle my feet (or even skip) rather than using a dignified walk, and to drink my soda directly out of the can. What I’m wearing can, and does, affect how I act.

And even at such a young age, Ryan seems to be aware of what he’s wearing and change his behavior accordingly. I have no doubt it’s because the fit of his clothes makes him feel differently, rather than any awareness of the situation. And it may even be that people (including Mummy and Daddy) treat him a little differently based on what he has on. But when he’s all dressed up in church clothes, he seems to sit up a little straighter, comport himself with a bit more dignity, and whine and complain a bit less. (Just a bit, but we’ll take what we can get.)

A well-behaved Ryan in his various holiday finery and formalwear.

Somewhat slouchier in his more casual clothes.

So I’m not sure if it was the elegant suit he was wearing, but Ryan behaved like a dream for his baptism yesterday. His behavior in church is something of a crap-shoot these days, mainly because church starts right around naptime, which means that sometimes he falls asleep in the car on the way there and gets a second wind just in time to be awake (and often cranky) during the service, and sometimes he fights falling asleep through most of the service and whines or yells until sleep wins out. But on Easter Sunday he slept peacefully through most of the service and woke up gently during the final anthem, happily staring at the choir while they sang. And I was hoping against hope that he’d be as well-behaved yesterday – and miraculously, he was! He was wide awake but contented and quiet for the beginning of the service, and didn’t make a single protest when Daddy handed him over to the minister. He didn’t peep when the minister dipped his hand in the water and wet his head. He even smiled like the little charmer he is when the minister walked him into the congregation to welcome him into the church family. I was such a proud mom! (Not to mention relieved.)

Of course, shortly afterward he started to protest and Daddy had to bring him to the nursery, but he got a nice nap there and then was back on his best behavior (mostly) for brunch with the family. He even stayed awake and played happily back at the house while everyone else socialized (and finally exchanged Christmas presents, but that’s another whole blog right there). And again, once the company went home, he dissolved back into a bit of a cranky spell, but he had his company manners on when he needed to.

So maybe clothes make the man and maybe they don’t, but I’m certainly proud that my little man lived up to his wardrobe yesterday.

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