Toileting is pitiful in a onesie! And so, they are not the usual garb of this practical single dad, but for a social experiment that I crafted to play out.

I cannot conceive that a bedtime costume as impractical as a onesie would ever be engineered for anything more than a practical joke. I imagine the pyjama design team in the boardroom some Friday (after a way-too-long lunch) being more than a little chipper as the new guy pushes his onesie blueprint to his teammates.

Each of the pyjama design veterans rips out hysterical guffaws, dance the chainsaw and slap palm-reddening high-fives on each other, realising that the new guy’s comedy bullion will be the stuff of folklore. Naturally, that makes the onesie a perfect clothing item for a challenge and a dare.

Trend-setting

The scale of the challenge depends on whether your PJs are strictly bedroom-only or whether you might courageously wear them to work. I definitely run with the philosophy of bedroom attire only. However, Australia Day this year prompted my work team to wear Aussie colours to work.

So, when I discovered a bold Australian flag onesie, my mind consciously thought through the combined possibilities of donning the onesie to work and a dad lesson for my girls. I am alert to how self-conscious they are, and I am learning that it is growing stronger as they get older.

My girls have taught me that near-teen girls are incredibly aware of how they look, talk and act. There seems to be a teen culture that force-feeds “y’know”, “like” and “literally” into each sentence. Even on the school’s plain clothes day, there is an informal uniform code that plays out across all the students.

In the collective hum of the school quadrangle, there is an adolescent consistency to their pouts, arm-waving gestures and gentle push and shove for air-time in their social circles. In some ways, it isn’t much unlike the workplace, except we adults get to indulge in coffee.

Braving the Reactions

So, after shelling out $7 for my top-to-toe PJs, I headed into work, squirming with the awareness that my diary reminded me of having to stand in front of an audience to deliver some training. I felt awkward and silly. Still, I asked in my head, “How much closer to being amazing might any of us be if the what-other-people-think measure didn’t quell our desire to be great at something?” Or, maybe doing something out of the ordinary invites an audience to invest words of affirmation in us.

My onesie day sourced a bit of both. I did feel like I had done something amazing and had a great number of people cheer me on. I braved the likelihood that I would get a hard time at work. And, I didn’t. Yes, I had a bit of fun presenting a training session to my colleagues dressed up in Aussie flag PJs. While I felt like a dill for most of the day, my intent was a long way off providing entertainment for my workmates. Instead, I wanted to show my daughters that it is possible to go beyond what people think.

Wearing a onesie to work was easy and I knew it. Picking up my girls from their mum for my weekend of dad time was the biggie. The door was going to be answered with fall-about laughing or awkward silence. The onesie wasn’t for mum though. As the girls arrived at the door, they were shocked and delighted.

In all the parenting textbooks, I haven’t read anything about wearing PJs to work. I had an instinctive sense that I could demonstrate an example of ‘stretching’ to my girls, hoping to encourage them to do the same. I want them to practice bravery. I parent to develop their independence.

Yet, for every brave, independent step that they are designed to take, they are setting themselves up to rely less on their dad and more on their own strengths and abilities. For that, I have had to settle into the apparent contradiction that the closeness of our connection can actually get stronger as I delegate increasing responsibility to my daughters.

Part of me wants to keep the “Dad, I am moving out” conversation at bay. However, I look forward to the extra closeness that could play out by offering my blessing as my daughters set out to create their own world.

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Photo by RODNAE Productions.

Published On: January 24th, 20230 CommentsTags: , , , , , ,

About the Author: Greg McInerney

Greg is the father of two daughters.

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