Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Orange Shirt Days


“Does your child have any other shirts?” you might ask.

“Why, yes! Yes, he does. A whole closet full.” I would say.

“Is there something wrong with the rest of his shirts?” you could logically ponder next.

“No. Not really. No, there is not.” I would say, were you to ask.

At two years old, getting any clothes on him at all was a situation - tantrums! I finally realized I was making it worse by trying to force it so I just let him be in a diaper until he felt like putting clothes on. Usually by the time we arrived someplace he'd want them on. Sometimes not. Sometimes people stared. Once a woman said something snide and I offered to let her try to dress him. Literally – like I handed her an outfit and hoped she’d have better luck than I did.


At three, my son had to wear a Spiderman costume every day. And night. So, fine. I bought four of them and he wore them. What do I care, really - it's his body, his sense of self and style - and he wanted to be in charge of it. I’m cool with that.

 That calmed down for a bit and then it was Superman. We had two Superman costumes and I made four blue shirts with red capes sewn onto the back. People would say, “Hi Superman!” everywhere we went. He loved it for months, then got bored with it and then embarrassed by it.

For a good long while after that he didn’t care what he wore. Lucky me! Occasionally he’d prefer the Lego shirt over the plain one, but usually would just put on whichever clothes I handed him without comment.

Until...two weeks ago. He will ONLY wear these exact blue shorts and orange shirt. He owns other blue shorts and other orange shirts – they are his favorite two colors after all – but he will not wear those other, disgusting, uncomfortable, “scratchy”, imperfectly heinous sets of clothing.

That's my kid in front. The one in the orange shirt.
I just roll with it. I wash them far, far more often than any piece of clothing should be washed before it falls apart. I’ve warned him that eventually they will do just that. But in the end, it’s simply not worth the upset for us both to fight him over it. He’s a good boy over all – kind and smart and pleasant and fun - I’m very lucky. But he’s almost as stubborn as his mama. I get creative, do some song-and-dancing and a lot of turning-things-into-games and much of giving-him-options in order to get things done. I pick my battles with this kid. I’ve learned over the years that when he says he’s NOT GOING TO WEAR ANYTHING ELSE, he damned well means it.

It is hard to know what goes through their minds. I remember too well being a big person in a small body, looking at all the people in big bodies around me and wondering why everybody treated me like I was kind of dumb. It was lonely. I understand him. I really don’t mind whatever he should ever want to wear. I just don't like doing laundry every day.

This too shall pass. I wonder what's next?