They say to pick your battles with your children …
Good behavior, proper manners, healthy habits, strong work ethics … this is where I put my energy. Clothing? Not really. As long as everyone is wearing pants when they leave the house, I’m good. Yes, if it’s really cold I require a coat and hat, but I also know that those items are often discarded as soon as I’m gone. So be it. The clothing war is not a battle in which I engage. Keep in mind that I’m a control freak, so this is a big deal. Really big. My one exception: formal occasions. When the boys need to dress up, I get veto power. Options and suggestions are always given so they think they are making their own decisions. But if they don’t choose wisely (read: what I offered or at least close to it), I get to override their wardrobe selections for something more suitable for the occasion. First Holy Communion is a good example of this. So are weddings and big holidays. I gave up on Sunday mass, school concerts and birthday parties a long time ago.
I realize that this hands-off approach is easier because I’m raising boys. Moms of girls have it much harder. Everything is so short these days that you can practically see up their craw (that was my grandma’s word for crotch, in case it wasn’t clear). I’m not a prude, but sometimes it’s inappropriate.
Back to dressing my kids … or not dressing them, to be more accurate. I haven’t actually picked their outfits in years. I used to point this out to people because I was embarrassed by their mismatched creations or, worse, their repeated wear of the same outfit day after day. I thought I would be judged. That my parenting would be judged. How ridiculous of me! My sister didn’t care. Her middle child wore pajamas everywhere for nearly a year when he was 4. She didn’t fight it and eventually he put clothes on again. Kids are just quirky (and stubborn).
The truth is, it makes me smile now when I think back to my kids’ silly clothing phases. Here are the ones I like best …
The numbers phase — When my oldest was about 3, he would only wear shirts with digits. One day, when I needed him to wear something nicer than a ratty t-shirt, I drew the number 7 on the sleeve of his polo shirt with a Sharpie marker just to end his meltdown.
The cape stage — Again it was my oldest who, around age 4 or 5, was so into super heroes that he wore a cape everywhere … even to a funeral mass. Our compromise that day was no mask.
The jersey year(s) — Both boys embraced this look a couple of years back, complete with matching shorts. My youngest still wears jerseys when he’s playing or watching a game.
The neon period — This one brings me back to my youth. It’s 1980 again, with bright colors abound. The bolder the better and anything goes this time around. Blue with orange? Pink with red? Why not? Click here to read my post about this trend on knobu.com.
Kids get that style is about individuality and comfort. For some, that means pajamas or a cape. For others, it’s wild shorts and bright socks. Don’t like it? Don’t fight it. Just ride the wave. Maybe tomorrow they’ll like bow ties and sports coats … or maybe sombreros. Kids are quirky.