I went spring shopping with my tween son the other week. I still call him a tween, but in reality he is just a few months away from stepping over the threshold and becoming a full-fledged teen. He kindly reminds me of this on the regular, and every single time all I can see is a picture in my mind’s eye of his sweet little baby face staring at his mommy in complete adoration. It makes me want to weep. Also I am pretty sure I can actually hear my ovaries drying up on their slow journey toward becoming shriveled little raisins.
One of the great things about babies is that you can dress them however you want. I used to dress my son so cute when he was small. Most people seem to think that all of the frilly baby girl clothes are the most fun to buy, but after a while the closet just looks like someone vomited Pepto-Bismol onto a bunch of plastic hangers. Moms of little boys, I’m here to tell you that shopping for baby boy’s clothes is where it’s at.
Shopping for big boy clothes is decidedly much more complicated. First of all, there are all these rules. Probably every boy has a different set of rules, but there is always some kind of code or formula that turns the whole thing into some sort of scavenger hunt. In order to pass the test when shopping for my son, all clothing must adhere to the following guidelines:
-must be quick dry fabric. But not the scratchy quick dry fabric, the smooth kind.
-no itchy tags. Even better–no tags at all.
-funeral colors only. Black, dark black, light black, grey, or a mixture of these are permitted. Blue is sometimes acceptable. Neon yellow was acceptable last year but now is eschewed. Please keep up.
-if there is some kind of visible athletic logo, only Nike is acceptable. Under Armor–NO. Adidas–that would be a hard no.
-pants must not have ankle cuffs of any kind. It doesn’t matter that those cute jogger pants are everywhere and it is difficult to even find pants without ankle cuffs. No. Cuffs.
Me: What do you have against jogger pants with cuffs?
Son: I don’t like them.
Me: Well, obviously. But what is it about them that you don’t you like?
Son: They make me feel trapped.
Me: They make you feel trapped?
Me: Trapped….in your pants?
With that all sorted out, we set off on our quest to find quick-dry athletic clothing with no tags and no cuffs in drab colors, that would also somehow fit a man-sized boy who is all arms and legs and sharp angles with a waist size that would make a Victorian woman in a double corset jealous.
Shopping this year turned out to be even more challenging than usual, because the boy is in this awkward in-between phase where he’s too tall for the boys section, but hasn’t filled out enough for the men’s section. Glorious. I sat in the fitting room waiting area as my son paraded out before me about four different styles of black and grey hoodies, despite the fact that our original intent was to find clothes for spring and summer. I suppose the black and grey hoodie that he has been wearing every single day since the beginning of the school year needed a refresh. (Side note to say that if you are one of my son’s teachers or one of his friend’s moms, I promise you I wash the sweatshirt in question regularly, and he has a few different pairs of the same/similar black pants. So I know it looks like he never changes his clothes, but it’s not so much of a poor hygiene situation as it is a Steve Jobs situation).
Anyhow, during the American Eagle parade of hoodies, one of the other dressing room doors opened and out walked an adorable teenage girl with long, colt-like arms and legs. She turned to her (very youthful looking) grandma and said, “Do you think this looks too big?”
If I were a cartoon character, my eyeballs would have fallen out of their sockets at that point and I would be groping around uselessly trying to retrieve them so I could pop them back in. I am telling you: if the denim miniskirt this girl was trying on were any smaller, it would be a belt. You could tell this wasn’t grandma’s first go-round with a teenage girl because, instead of answering the question, she very cautiously said, “You’re going to wear shorts underneath that, right?” Like she knew that the inevitability of an automatic sale would shoot up if she were to respond by saying, “That is ridiculously short. There is no way you’re wearing that!” The girl didn’t answer grandma’s question about the shorts either, crafty as she was, but instead surveyed her reflection wearing the tiny little skirt from all angles before disappearing again into the dressing room.
This is where grandma and I locked eyes and, without a word spoken, had a moment of sisterhood. I could see how she had blazed the path that lay before me, come out the other side, and had now brought the wisdom of our foremothers to this moment. As my boy came out in another black hoodie, she gave an almost imperceptible nod that seemed to say, “I know. He wears the same thing all the time. Boys are like that. Don’t worry.” I, in turn, lifted up a quick prayer asking for strength for the girl’s mother, who I am certain would rue the day she allowed grandma to take her daughter shopping for spring clothes, only to find that she came home with a denim belt.