So how do the American kids differ from their peers?
I think it all comes down to some messiness, some scruffiness around the edges.
Sure, my kids' closet is filled with stylish and adorable clothing. If I picked out their clothing every day, they would look so cute... coordinated... put-together. The colors would all match, they'd have hair accessories that compliment their clothes, and they'd wear a wide variety of outfits--not the same thing over and over again.
I think the same could be said for most of the other American kids in the elementary school, too.
So why are our kids dressed the way they are?
Because they dress themselves. They pick out their own outfits. (They also help to choose their clothing when I initially purchase it, so you'd think it wouldn't be an issue--but they then insist on coming up with their own ways of wearing it once we're back in Moscow). They fiercely assert their independence, sharing their own senses of style. They know what's comfortable. They also want to brush their own hair and do their own pony tails.
And we let them.
In my case, it's simply not a battle worth fighting. There are other areas of contention that are way more important and I choose to spend my nagging/discipline time on those. If I also harped on about their clothing, they would only hear the "wah-wah-wah-wah-wah-wah" drone of the teacher from the Peanuts cartoon.
I think there's also more to it... I let them put together those sometimes dreadful combinations in part because I value their need for independence. Their need to take on individual responsibility is more important to me as a mother than others' perceptions of their grooming. Granted, they must be clean and decent--but I'm not to going to sweat the small stuff.
The more I think about, children's independence/individual identity is a common theme throughout American children's literature, television and film. Eloise. Nancy Drew. Harriet the Spy. Ramona. Tom Sawyer. Nim's Island. Freaky Friday. Ratatouille. Finding Nemo. I could go on and on.
I just can't think of Russian equivalents... The Russian stories and films my kids are most commonly exposed to tend to emphasize the family as a whole or groups of friends/characters. Cheburashka is an individual, but she's not a person... She's an unknown type of cuddly animal... Pippi Longstocking and Carlson (Astrid Lindgren) are very popular here, but they're Swedish...
Anyone care to share his or her two cents/2 kopeks?