Monday, February 25, 2013

Faking It

I have a confession to make.

I’m not who you think I am.

This confidence you think I have?  It’s a show.  You know how people say you should “fake it till you make it”?  Well, I’m forty years old.  At this point, I may have to accept the fact that I’ll always be faking it and I’ll never quite make it.

I’m insecure. I am sometimes crippled by self-doubt.  I have an embarrassing lack of self esteem.  And I’m never really sure if anyone actually likes me. 

I just pretend to be confident to get through the days. 

I pretend really well.  So well that, at times, I almost believe me.

Bear with me, I have a point.

A couple of days ago, I went to a birthday party for one of Iris’s friends. So there I was in the middle of the loud, crowded chaos that is a child’s birthday party, watching Iris run around in the arena full of bouncy houses.  And I start having horrible flashbacks to my own childhood.  And, though none of what happened seems to have dampened Iris’s spirits or, actually, affected her at all, it triggered in me a great big bubbling up of the insecurity I try to pretend I don’t have.

You see, if you ask Iris, she has a best friend.  Her best friend is Bella.  There is no one in the world Iris likes as much as she likes Bella.  The problem is that, lately, Iris is not Bella’s best friend.  Bella’s best friend is Alice.  And Alice is imaginary.

(Not that it matters to this story, but, seriously, what do you have to do to be displaced in a friend’s affections by someone who isn’t even real?)

So, yesterday, I watched Iris follow Bella all around the party, trying to get Bella to play with her.  Or notice her.  And I watched Bella not care.  Not maliciously.  She’s three for goodness sake.  She’s not trying to make Iris feel bad or anything of that ilk.  Right now Bella just, clearly, doesn’t like Iris as much as Iris likes Bella. 

When Bella disappeared to play with other children or even by herself, I watched Iris go looking for her.  “Bella?  Bella?  Where are you?” she would call into each of the bouncy structures.

And a lump formed in my throat. 

Because watching Iris…I was watching myself.

When I was young, that was me. 

I spent my school years as the unnoticed.

Oh, I don’t think anyone disliked me.  They just didn’t exactly see me, either.  I was never anyone’s first choice.

In high school I had this group of friends (a term I’m using loosely here).  There were four of them.  They were on the speech team with me.  They did theatre with me.  And the four of them were tight.  Me?  I was on their periphery.  They weren’t unkind.  But they often just forgot to include me in whatever hijinks they got up to.  They would go out together.  Or go to a dance together.  Or have parties at each other’s’ houses.  And just wouldn’t include me.  I was an afterthought, if I was thought of at all.  Senior year, they all went on a camping trip together for spring break.  I found out about the trip after spring break was over. 

But, oh, I wanted to be on the inside of that group.  Somehow.  I knew I wasn’t the most talented or the most attractive person.  I knew I wasn’t the boldest or most outspoken.  I knew I wasn’t a standout, not the one people remember.  So I tried to be the kindest. 

Need someone to drive to the movies?  Sure. And I can get the snacks!  Or help you’re your homework.  Need someone to run lines with you for that play you’re in?  Okay.  I can also listen to your prose performance for that speech competition.  Or help you perfect your debate case.  And if you can’t think of anything else to do, why not come over and use my family’s hot tub?

And, despite the fact that they identified me as their friend, told me they liked me, and were never outright mean to me, I was still the one who was on their borders, the edges, the margins.  The one they just forgot to call.

Not exactly excluded.  But not included, either.

It was a pattern that repeated throughout my childhood and into my early twenties.  Not being cool enough or talented enough or smart enough or interesting enough to be first choice.  And, to this day, I still have the crushing suspicion that people who tell me they like me, who say they are my friend, don’t and aren’t.  That they are merely tolerating me.  That I’m annoying or not good enough or that I’m trying too hard.

Most of the time, I can use the logical side of my brain to shut those thoughts down.  But, sometimes, the emotional side of my brain is just…louder.

As I watched Iris following Bella around, all of this was bubbling up inside me like the poisonous lava that it is. 

I don’t want history to repeat itself. 

I don’t want Iris to ever feel like this. 

I also don’t know how to keep it from happening.

I don’t know what to tell her or teach her or show her to make her understand that she is good and worthy.  I don’t know how to give her the self-esteem and security that I seem to lack.  I know I can’t shield her from experiences like this.  But I do want to give her the strength to weather it better than I did and do.  But, how do you give someone confidence and strength when you’re only pretending to have them, yourself?

I guess I’m going to have to learn to fake it till my daughter makes it. 

Is that even a thing?

Monday, February 18, 2013

Balloon: A Play in Five Acts


Iris and I are at a grocery store.  Iris is nineteen months old.  She and I are in the checkout line.  It is thirty minutes past lunchtime and thirty minutes until naptime.  Iris, not surprisingly, is tired and hungry.  She also, very surprisingly, is being extremely well-behaved. 

Iris notices a display of brightly colored balloons near the checkout stand.

Iris: (pointing at the brightly colored balloons) Boon?
Cashier: (noticing Iris pointing at the balloons)
Iris: (employing her patented sweetest I-am-the-cutest-baby-you’ve-ever-seen-how-can-you-possibly-resist-me voice) Boon?
Me: (not noticing what’s going on because, after paying for my purchases, I am signing where I need to sign, putting my card back in my wallet, putting my wallet back in my purse, and trying to find my car keys. Simultaneously.)
Iris: (to the cashier again) Boon?
Cashier: (getting a pink balloon and handing the string to Iris)
Me: (naively smiling like the inexperienced mother I am)
Iris: (grinning like she’s just won the lottery and hugging the balloon) Boon!
Me: (thinking it’s cute)

Cut to: My kitchen.  I tie a weighted bag to the balloon’s string so it does not float away, make lunch for Iris, sit her in her high chair at the table and proceed to try to unpack and put away the groceries. 

Iris: (sitting in her high chair, suddenly screaming bloody murder and pointing across the room where I have, stupidly, left the balloon)  Boon!  Booon!
Me: (going to Iris, painting a smile on my face and attempting to sound cheerful) It’s lunchtime now, sweetie.  See the grilled cheese?  Mmmmmm!  You love grilled cheese!
Iris: (having none of the grilled cheese crap, screaming and crying) Booooooon! 
Me: (making an attempt to put a piece of sandwich in her mouth) Yummmmmy.
Iris: (screaming) NO!  NOOOO!  (spitting out said piece of sandwich with a force that would make a professional baseball player and his chewing tobacco jealous and crying harder and louder) BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOON!
Me: (sighing) Fine.  I will get you the balloon.

I go get her the damned balloon and tie it to the arm of her high chair so that it is right next to her.

Iris: (finding this to be an unacceptable solution, clutching the balloon to her chest and refusing to let it go long enough to eat anything)
Me: (attempting to put sandwich in her mouth)
Iris: (swinging her head away and continuing to clutch the balloon)

This goes on for several minutes, then….

Me: (untying the balloon and putting it in the laundry room) You have to eat lunch.  You can’t have the balloon if it means you won’t eat your lunch. 
Iris: (screaming unintelligibly and pointing at the laundry room)
Me: Nope.  I know I am a terrible mother and your life is awful, but you can’t have the balloon.
Iris: (more unintelligible screaming and pointing)
Me: No.
Iris: (unintelligible screaming and pointing)
Me: NO.
Iris: (unintelligible screaming and pointing)
Me: (through gritted teeth)  No.  Now. Eat.  Something.
Iris: (more screaming)
Me: Please?  Yummy grilled cheese!  And grapes!  You love grapes!
Iris: (uncontrollable sobbing while flinging sandwich on the floor)
Iris: (uncontrollable sobbing while flinging sippy cup on the floor)

Cut to: Naptime.

I take Iris upstairs while she frantically clutches the string of the balloon and stares at it to make sure it follows us to her bedroom.
Me: (leaving the balloon in the corner of Iris’s room where she can see it from her crib)
Iris: (screaming and flailing because I have, horror of horrors, taken the balloon away from her)
Me: (attempting to reason with the toddler) Iris, you need to sleep.  The balloon is right there.  It will still be there when you wake up.  You don’t need to hold it.
Iris: (screeching) Hold It!  Booooooon!!!!!
Me: No. Sleep.
Iris: Booooooonnnnnnn!!!!!!!!
Me: (stupidly attempting to use reason on a toddler) Iris, you cannot sleep with a balloon.  The string could get tangled around your neck and choke you.
Iris: (sobbing) BBBBBOOOOOOOONNNNNN!!!!!
Me: (stomping across her room to get the fucking balloon and tying its fucking string to the fucking side of the fucking crib so she can fucking have the fucking thing)  FINE!
Iris: (finding this solution unacceptable) Hhhhooooooollllllddddd Iiiittttt!!!!!
Me: NO!
Me: (grabbing the balloon, taking it outside her room, and closing the door)  NO!!!

Iris sobs herself to sleep.

I pop the fucking balloon and throw it in the trash while Iris is asleep.


Three months later, we are in the parking lot at the grocery store.  I am getting ready to put Iris into her car seat.  As I am opening the car door, Iris notices, from between the cars three rows over, a red balloon floating up into the sky.

Iris: (pointing) Wook, a boon.
Me: (watching her watch the balloon float away and smiling because I think it is cute and I am that stupid) Yes, baby.  Look at it fly into the sky.
Iris: (watching and pointing) Wook!  A boon!
Me: Yep. (I start to put her in the car)
Iris: (plaintively)  Boon?
Me: I know.
Iris: Boon??
Me: (laughing a little nervously) No, sweetie, I can’t get the balloon for you. 
Iris: (whining) Booon?
Me: Sweetie there is no balloon.  You never had a balloon.  And that one is gone now.
Iris: (whining harder) Yes! Boooon!
Me: I can’t get that balloon, it’s too far away (I show her by reaching as far as I could into the sky)
Iris: (bursting into tears)
Me: (handing Iris a stuffed toy I keep in the backseat for just such an occasion)
Iris: (angrily throwing the toy out of the car)
Me: (picking up the stuffed toy and putting it back in the car) NO! (handing her the board book I also keep in the backseat of the car)
Iris: (throwing the book out of the car)
Me: (picking up the book) NO!!
Iris: BOOON!!!
Me: (closing the car door)
Iris: (beginning to sob as though I have broken one of her limbs)
Me: (starting the car and driving home)
Iris: (repeatedly sobbing) BOOON!!! BOOON!!!!!! BOOOOOOOON!!!!!!!!!
Me: (silently vowing the kick the ass of the kid who let go of that damned balloon if I ever find out who he is, I attempt to shout over Iris’s sobs) You Never Even! Held! That Balloon!!!


We are in the checkout line of the grocery store.  Iris is two years old and riding in the cart.  She notices the balloons.  The cashier notices her noticing the balloons.

Cashier: Can she have a balloon?
Me: No. 
Cut to: The checkout line of the grocery store.  Iris is now twenty six months old and riding in the cart.  She notices the free balloons. The cashier notices her noticing the balloons.

Me: Let me stop you before you ask…no, she cannot have a balloon.

Cut to: The checkout line of the grocery store.  Iris is now two and a half.  I am carrying her on one hip while attempting to purchase our order with a credit card.  Iris notices the free balloons.  The cashier notices her noticing the balloons.

Me: (without looking up) No way.


It is Iris’s best friend Bella’s birthday party.  Bella is turning three.  Amy, Bella’s mother and, I thought, one of my best friends, gives Iris one of the balloons from the balloon bouquet that was a decoration at Bella’s party. 

Amy: (to Iris)  Now, don’t you let your mommy take this balloon away from you.
Me: (glaring at Amy) You are evil and I’m going to have to hate you now.
Amy: (laughs)

Cut to: The parking lot outside the community center where Amy held Bella’s party.  Iris is getting into her car seat and I am holding her balloon and contemplating just letting go and letting it float away.  Sadly, I don’t do it.

Iris: (sitting down)  Can I have my balloon now, Mommy?
Me: (sighing) Yes.  (attempting to hand her the balloon as she sits in her car seat.
Iris: (screeching) No!  Mommy!  Not that way!
Me: Seriously?  What way should I hand it to you?
Iris: Mommy!  Don’t bump it!
Me: Iris, the balloon isn’t hurt. It just bumped the car door.  It’s okay.
Iris: (becoming frantic) Mommy!  I need it here!
Me: (handing her the balloon)
Iris: (gesticulating in a confusing manner)
Me: You want it behind your head? (I start trying to stuff it in the car behind her head)
Iris: (starting to cry) NO!  NO!!
Me: What?  What do you WANT???
Iris: (crying hard)  I want it on my neck!
Me: On.  Your.  Neck????? 
Iris: The string!  Can you put in on my neck?
Me: NO!  Iris!  I am not tying the balloon string around your NECK!
Iris: (crying harder) Mommyyyy!!!
Me: (thinking that it’s a compromise, I start to tie the string around the shoulder strap of her car seat…after all, it’s near her neck)
Iris: (screeching) NOOOOOO!!!!!  (clawing at the string)  NOOOO!!!!!
Me: (trying to untie the string while Iris claws at it) Iris, stop.  IRIS!  STOP!!!
Iris: (sobbing) Mommmyyyyyyy!!!!!
Me: (shoving the balloon into the car and slamming the door)  This.  Has not.  Gotten better.  With age.


I pop the fucking balloon and throw it in the trash while Iris is asleep.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

I Forgot to Tell You The Worst Part

Remember how I told you I fail Valentine's?

I forgot to tell you the worst part.

Some of the candy in Iris's gift bags?  Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.

No?  Don't get it?

Two words: Peanut.  Allergies.

Yep, Iris's class is a peanut-free zone and I was in the car this morning ferrying bags of death to a preschool.

Don't worry, I managed to get chocolate poison out of the bags before we got to the school. 

Still.  I fail.

I Fail Valentine's

Stop it.  Just stop it. 

You know who you are.

You’re the mom who’s making me look like a slacker this Valentine’s Day.

Yes, you.

You and your Pinterest board. 

You and your Pinterest board and your efficiency.

You and your Pinterest board and your efficiency and ability to craft.

See, I thought I was doing so well this year.

I saw that Valentine’s Day was coming up.  I knew that Iris’s class would have a Valentine’s Day party.  I was aware, after last year, that people didn’t just bring cards for their kiddos to give the other kiddos in the class, they would bring cute little personalized gift bags filled with super-neato treats…candy, handmade cards, party favors, little toys.  All wrapped up with ribbons and with cutesy sayings on the card.

You know what I brought to Iris’s class last Valentine’s Day?  Cards.  Not handmade cards.  The store-bought variety that come in twelve-packs and have cartoon characters on them.  You know, the ones that are really little more than colored slips of paper?  Yeah, those. 

And that’s when I realized that I was the Slacker Mom.

Everyone else was on the ball with the good, Pinterest-y stuff.

So, this year I decided to get my shit together.

This year, I didn’t wait until the night before the party.  No, this year, it was a week before the party when I went out and got some blank valentine’s cards and had Iris help me decorate them with glittery colored heart stickers and handwrote a Happy Valentine’s Day message from Iris inside (okay, so every card says “Happy Valentine’s Day from Iris,” but I wrote each one myself!!!!).   This year I got packages of stickers and those Conversation Heart candies to put in a bag.  So, into the bag go the candies, stickers, and the semi-homemade card.  And I thought “Finally, I am not the Slacker Mom!  Finally, I have this Valentine’s thing licked!  I am ON IT this year!”

You know what Iris brought home from her Valentine’s Day party? 

Handmade (not store-bought) cards with creative sayings like “I’m So Glad You’re In My School!” with a picture of a school of fish (get it?) drawn on it.  With healthy snacks like goldfish crackers attached.  A bag filled with little toys and healthy fruit snacks tied with real, cloth ribbon and a personalized picture attached to it.  Stuff like that.

And they were CUTE.  And CRAFTY.  And AWESOME. 

And they made me look bad.

And, yes, I put my stuff in bags.  Ziploc bags.

Because I, apparently, really am the Slacker Mom.

That’s right.

I’m the Slacker Mom who brought Ziploc-bagged Valentine’s gifts and provided paper plates for the party.

Next year, I’m just going to own it.

I am the Slacker Mom.  Yes, I am.  I hate Pinterest.  I am not crafty.  I suck at being cutesy.

And if I am never going to be as awesome and crafty as those other moms?  I will just have to up my slacking game to gold-medal level.

Next year, I might forget Valentine’s Day altogether.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Greatest Show On Earth

When I was six or seven years old, my parents took me to see Disney on Ice.  This is what I remember about the show:  “Snow White!  Cinderella!  The Seven Dwarves!  Alice in Wonderland!  Mickey!  Minnie!  Donald Duck!  WOW! They’re skating!  ON ICE!  This! Is!! AMAZING!!!!!!!”

Here’s what my Mom remembers about the show: “Oh, God, those people just skated backwards for forty-five minutes.”

Yesterday, we took our three-year-old, Iris, to the circus.  Which taught me one very important parenting lesson: It’s all in your perspective.

From Iris’s perspective, this was an amazing experience.  Even today, she cannot stop talking about the circus.  The lights.  The clowns.  The elephants.  Her first taste of cotton candy.  The horses.  The Elephants.  The trained dogs.  The trapeze artists. THE ELEPHANTS!!!!!!  The look of pure wonder and joy on her face was almost worth it all.

Why “almost?”

Because my husband, Quinten, and I are the adults.

Because we had to walk a million miles from where we parked to where we were sitting in the arena.  While carrying Iris.  Who didn’t want to be carried.  Then did want to be carried.  Then didn’t want to be carried and refused to hold hands, so we carried her anyway.  Which was not met with good humor.

Because, unlike Iris, we noticed that some of the dancers just weren’t feeling it today, so they were just kind of standing there going through about half the motions with as little energy as possible.

Because Iris took the bag of popcorn from us and wouldn’t let us eat any.  At all. 

Because we also noticed that the tigers just did the same trick a couple of times before being rushed off the stage. 

Because having a three year old climb all over her seat and our laps and crawl on the floor and climb back into her seat and almost spill popcorn onto the people in front of us and trying to keep her from falling down the stairs or get folded up into the chair takes a LOT of energy.

Because we had to buy Iris a five inch tall stuffed tiger.  For seventeen dollars.

Because we had to take her to the bathroom sixteen and a half times during the show.  Only a few of which resulted in actual pee.  Many of which resulted in the panicked wailings of a child because the show had gone on without her.

Because once you've watched the Olympic gymnastic competition, you aren't so impressed when all the circus tumblers are kind of just doing the same thing over and over again for twenty minutes.

Because we spent twelve dollars on cotton candy.  Which, it turns out when you’re an adult, tastes gross.  And which caused our daughter to be sticky all the way up to her elbows.

Because trying to keep her from eating things she found on the floor was horrifyingly distracting.

Because at the end of the show, Iris cried for half an hour because WE should NOT have let the show end and WE were MEAN and she JUST WANTED TO SEE THE SHOW!!!!!!

Please do not misunderstand me, we adore Iris and watching her watch the show was an amazing experience.  I love providing her with as much wonder, spectacle, awe, and marvel as her little heart desires.  I will take her to see Disney on Ice and Sesame Street Live and The Wizard of Oz on stage and The Fresh Beat Band live in concert and movies other stage shows and zoos and amusement parks and a million other kid-focused activities.  Because Iris is my little girl and she deserves it.

But what do I have to say about the circus?  Thanks, Mom.  I love you, too.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Ten Ways I Know I am a Potty Training Mom

1.  The last time I cheered and clapped like a demented and uncoordinated cheerleader wasn’t the Superbowl. It was when Iris peed in the potty yesterday.  For the fifteenth time.

2.  I spend ten or twenty minutes every morning (and, perhaps several other times during the day if there’s an accident) debating the merits of princess panties versus fairy panties. With a toddler.

3.  Yesterday, I taunted Iris while eating a fun-sized candy bar.  “Mommy gets to eat a candy bar because Mommy pooped in the potty.  You can’t have a candy bar because you didn’t poop in the potty!”  I then shoved the entire candy bar in my mouth and chewed, pointedly, in Iris’s direction.  (But, in my defense, I did refrain from saying “neener neener neener.”)

4.  I just bought four bags of M&Ms at the grocery store because they were on sale and I had a coupon that made it a really great deal.  The cashier at the grocery store commented that I must really love M&Ms.  I responded that, no, actually, I don’t like M&Ms very much but I’m using them as rewards for potty training.  Without thinking, I followed this up with an entire discussion of how Iris really has the peeing part down pat, but she has yet to poop in the potty and I don’t know what to do about that and it’s so frustrating….and then I noticed the horrified look on the face of the cashier and stopped talking.

5.  I have spent time seated on the floor of a restaurant bathroom while changing the pee-soaked panties and leggings of a crying child.  More than once.

6.  I have vowed revenge on the person who invented the self-flushing-sensor installed on public toilets for making Iris terrified that the toilet will suck her down while she pees. 

7.  I have lost all sense of modesty.  I pee and poop in front of Iris regularly. In fact, I intentionally take her into the bathroom with me so she can watch.  Worse, I encourage her to watch.  So, when my friend brought her also-potty-training daughter to my house yesterday, we all ended up in the bathroom together peeing in front of each other.  I opined, out loud, that there are three classes of people that have no modesty: exhibitionists, pregnant women, and potty training moms.  My friend laughed as she pulled her pants back up and asked who wanted to pee next.

8.  All the magazines in my bathroom have been replaced with a bunch of Dora the Explorer and Princess storybooks.  Secretly, I think that being relegated to the bathroom is just what Dora deserves.

9.  Currently, my entire exercise program is running down the hall behind Iris chanting inane things like “We’re going to PEE on the POT-TY!  We’re going to PEE on the POT-TY!”

10.  Yesterday, early in the day, after a successful trip to the potty, I rewarded Iris with one yellow, one pink, and one red M&M (the proper combination, she assures me). She happily proceeded to choke me with a hug around the neck.  And then started complaining, loudly and whiningly, that her red M&M was missing. I spent a few minutes looking for said red M&M and didn’t find it anywhere.  So, in the interest of stopping the whining and saving my sanity, I gave her a new one and didn’t think any more about it.  Until later that night. When my husband, Quinten, and I were going to bed and getting ready to engage in some much-needed and long-long-long-awaited hanky panky.  While Quinten began to, seductively, remove my bra….out tumbled a red M&M, rolling down my leg and onto the floor and coming to rest next to my foot.  It left a perfectly red and perfectly round spot on my boob.  That sort of thing can just kill a mood.

So, anyone want to come over and finish the whole potty training thing for me?



Sunday, February 3, 2013

Sometimes, You Have to Negotiate with the Terrorist

Spinning dresses are ruining my life. 

If you are a person who does not have a girl child under the age of five, then you are about to ask me what a spinning dress is.


Sorry.  Let me back up a little.

You see, Iris has a closet full of clothes.  And I don't mean ordinary-full.  I mean stuffed-to-the-gills full.  I mean no-toddler-should-have-this-many-clothes full.  But, in the last four or five months, Iris has decided that the only clothing she will deign to wear are dresses.  Which means she will not wear 95% of the clothes in her overstuffed closet.  Of the remaining 5%, only about half of them are weather appropriate.  And of that half that's left, she will only wear about a third of them. 

Because only a third of them "spin," that's why.

Which leaves me with maybe four dresses to choose from, assuming all four of them are clean.

Now those of you who do not have girl children under the age of five are thinking "Iris is a child...why don't you just make her wear whatever you think she should wear, even if it isn't a dress?

Seriously?  You're seriously asking me that?

Okay.  Let me tell you what happened yesterday morning when I had to put her in a shirt and pants for her Saturday morning gymnastics class.  I thought because the shirt had two layers of ruffles around the bottom that it might pass muster.  But, then again, it's a shirt.  Which means, of course, it's not a dress.

Iris: Can I wear a spinning dress to 'nastics?
Me: No, sweetie, a dress would get in the way when you're at gymnastics.
Iris: (starting to whine) But I want a spinning dress!
Me: Iris, you're going to have to wear a shirt to gymnastics.
Iris: (giving me the stink eye) No!
Me: (showing her the shirt I've picked out) But, see, this shirt spins!
Iris: (pushing at the shirt and starting to cry) No, it doesn't!  That does not spin!!
Me: (showing her the ruffles along the bottom) Look! It's like a tutu!  Tutus spin!
Iris: (losing it altogether) It's NOT A TUTU!!!! NOOOO!!!!!!!!

And then we entered tantrumland wherein I dressed her in the shirt and pants while she laid on the floor sobbing and did everything she could to make dressing her as uncomfortable and difficult as humanly possible.  Followed by ten minutes of her snatching and pulling at the shirt while it's on her body and saying she doesn't want THIS, that THIS isn't a DRESS, that THIS doesn't SPIN.

You're about to suggest that I offer her two or three options and let her choose which one she wants to wear.  Oh yeah, smartie-pants?  What do I do when she decides that NONE of the options spin???  What THEN??

Which brings us back to your original question: what, exactly, is a spinning dress?

Well, for starters, as you saw from the example above, it is not a shirt.  Not even an A-line shirt or a shirt with ruffles that will clearly twirl up if Iris should decide to spin around the room.  Nope.  Because a shirt is too short.  Clearly a shirt will not spin.

After that, things get a lot fuzzier.

For example.  This dress spins:

This dress does NOT spin:

Yesterday, this was a spinning dress:
Today?  Not so much.
This dress is consistently a spinning dress.  

However it is not always clean.

This dress might spin.

However, to make it weather-appropriate, she would have to wear a long-sleeved shirt under it and God forbid I make her do that because it will RUIN the dress and then, you guessed it, it will not spin.

This dress?

Was designed and sewn by the devil himself and shall never ever ever ever ever NEVER touch her body.

There are rules.  They are complicated.  I will never learn them all.  Even if I were to learn them all, I have no hope of ever understanding them, despite my law-school education. 

Meanwhile, I'm tempted to just let her go naked.

*NOTE: Because someone is going to ask: all the dresses pictured are available at the Hanna Andersson website