What Not to Wear


Two years. That’s all I get. Two short, precious years of dressing my children any way I see fit. Then they develop this thing called “independence” whose first symptom is manifested via clothes.

Andy went through a phase of changing his shorts 8 times a day. Nothing matched. He hated tags and collars. He refused to wear jeans. Still does, in fact. Kate wore either her ballerina outfit or her princess nightgown everyday for years. To the park, the store, everywhere.

When I folded laundry the other day, I noticed Luke’s pile consisted of underwear only. Everyone else’s was a teetering tower of colorful cotton poly blends, but Luke’s was just a pile of 4T underoos, because he wears the same thing everyday. When I holler for the kids to get dressed each morning, he hollers back, “I already am!” because he wears his standard uniform to bed too.

Dean wants to wear pajamas all day. Everything else is too itchy and cumbersome. I met a friend for lunch at McDonald’s last week. We hadn’t seen each other in a year and I wanted the kids to look nice. I wrangled real clothes on Dean before leaving (three times) and buckled him into his five point harness. There. But when I looked up in the restaurant’s giant hamster maze 20 minutes later, he had stripped himself down to a diaper. Happy as a clam.

We’ve all seen the kids who insist on wearing their moon boots in July and we think, “Awww, how adorable.” But what do we think when it’s 35 degrees outside and we see a two year old in nothing but a ratty t-shirt and pajama pants, because he refuses to put on a sweatshirt/fleece/jacket/coat/boots or anything else that retains heat? Let me assure you, his coat is in my purse, waiting for the tough love to kick in already!

Last year, on our first truly cold day of the season, kindergartner Kate protested any kind of garment that would detract from her carefully selected ensemble. I thought she could learn the hard way once, and we would not have to have this battle each and every frosty morning. Her teacher sent her home with a note telling me I really shouldn’t send a child to school in this kind of weather without a coat.

In my experience, this mismatched, non-weather appropriate phase only lasts about 5 years. By about age seven, my older two can emerge from their bedrooms unassisted in something that matches and keeps them warm.

Although, I really do need to buy Andy some snow boots today. Our last snowfall found me scrambling for something other than soggy sneakers for my first born to tromp off to school in. I ended up painting a pair of purple hand-me-down boots we had in his size with black craft paint that morning.

And bless his heart, he wore them without complaint. It must have been from those five long years of practice looking like a fashion “before.”


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