Dirty laundry

I do not know where it all comes from.

It is voluminous.  It is continuous.  It appears to be contagious, multiplying seemingly out of nowhere, like Gremlins.  It is completely out of proportion for four people.  I had everything completely caught up on Monday night, I swear.  And when I say completely, I mean that everything had been washed, dried, folded, and put away.  That last part is usually where the process stalls, as everyone seems to have no problem with coming downstairs to grab a pair of underwear out of the folded laundry basket sitting in the living room, not bothering to take the rest of their pile with them.  Anyhow, it was all put away, and the only thing left in my laundry chute was one little hand towel.  I felt so accomplished, like I had conquered the world!  Or at least my small corner of it.  And yet, a mere 5 days later, on a Saturday morning, it is back.  All of it.  And it brought friends, I think.


Some of this is understandable.  My husband and I are very active, so we each have sweaty workout clothes that go in the wash nearly every day.  I always have a big pile of pajamas in my folding pile, due to the fact that I have developed these lovely middle age night sweats that soak me right through and often require one or occasionally two changes of clothes in the middle of the night.  And I have an 11 year old daughter who just joined the swim team, thereby creating a weekly influx of towels and swimsuits.  Oh, and also because– she is frigging lazy.  There is no way that all of the clothes she throws down the laundry chute are dirty.  My frequent requests that she clean up the floor of her room have backfired.  The floor of her room is now in my laundry room, in the never-ending pile.  Mount Washmore…and more…. and more…and more….


Sometimes, doing the laundry results in some serious questions.  For instance, if I am doing four days’ worth of laundry and one parent has 4 pairs of underwear, and the other parent has 5 pairs of underwear, why does one child have 9 pairs of underwear, and the other child has one pair of underwear?  Solve for x. One pair.  I have obviously failed as a parent.  Also, why do we say a “pair” of underwear?  It is not really a pair, like a pair of socks.  It is not two items, it is one item.  I only wear one at a time. Maybe the person with 9 pairs of underwear in their pile is wearing two at a time?  The child with only one pair of underwear in their pile clearly has taken the concept of wearing one pair of underwear at a time a little too far.

I cry uncle.  My head is hung in defeat.  If I let it go, close the laundry room door and ignore it, it will just be worse tomorrow.  But the last thing I want to do on my Saturday is wash, dry, fold, repeat.

And such is life, yes?  Wake, work, eat, do all the things.  Exercise.  Drink your water. Cook healthy meals that people complain about eating.  Clean up.  Weed the stupid garden.  Answer all the emails.  Sign all the school papers (a part-time job in and of itself!).  Drive your kids here there and everywhere.  Help with homework.  Do “self care” (because a 15 minute bubble bath or 10 minutes of deep breathing is apparently supposed to refresh me after 15 hours of responding to peoples’ needs).  Sleep.  Wake up to another pile of……sheets.  Wash, dry, fold, repeat.

Again, I cry uncle.  Life seems to be piling up faster than I can keep up with.  I am working on gratitude, because Oprah said that developing a gratitude practice changed her life.  BUT.  Oprah has people to change her sheets and cook her meals and take care of her house and tell her what clothes are fashionable and DO HER LAUNDRY, so I think that probably frees up some time for her to perfect her gratitude practice.

Speaking of gratitude, why does this always have to be the key to a joyful, fulfilling life? Why can’t the key be chocolate? If that were the case, I would be the freaking Dalai Lama. And all of you would line up to have me autograph your copy of my NYT bestseller, “The Wisdom of the Peanut Butter Cup”.

Sometimes I try to talk about these things with other moms when I’m out and about, airing my figurative dirty laundry.  Just a little toe out to test the water.  It used to work when my kids were younger.  There seems to be this camaraderie among young moms that I am really missing with older kids.  There is something so universal about the trials of having little kids.  They poop up the backs of their onesies, they have separation anxiety, they won’t take a bottle at day care, they refuse to potty train.  We used to speak of these things easily on park benches, in grocery lines, and while pushing swings.    It was sort of like getting a little sneaky look at the height of someone else’s laundry pile, and feeling less alone because everyone else is buried also.  It’s harder to hide when you have little kids, because your clothes don’t match and you wear two different shoes to work and your child screams through the aisles of the store and then spits up on you at checkout.

I have no interest in hiding.  I am trying to find my people, those moms that love their kids like crazy and don’t want to miss any of their things BUT ALSO would rather be at home doing nothing.  Kind of like how you want your baby to lie down and sleep but once he is sleeping you miss the baby and want to go pick him up?  Remember that ambivalence?  Does anyone else still have theirs?  I will test the waters by saying things like, “It’s crazy, right?  This time of life?  I feel like I’m spread as thin as I was when they were babies, except I sleep through the night”.  I need to hear that someone else can’t keep up with their pile.  I’m desperate for the swing-pushing camaraderie, but not with someone who is keeping up with their pile of sheets.  I needs someone who is knee-deep in sheets.  Within 10 seconds I can tell if I have chosen the wrong person for this experiment, by the furrow of the brow, the look in the eye.  A look of confusion–“Oh, I’m loving it!  I love watching all the soccer games and music concerts and recitals and cheering them on and seeing them become their own little people!”  Oh yes, me too, that’s actually what I meant.  It’s sooooo fun.  Not like I’m not sitting here in the bleachers at 7:30 pm in my scrubs, haven’t been home since 7 am, haven’t eaten since 1 pm, haven’t seen my husband since 2005.  It’s fun!  Every day a new adventure.  What time will I get home tonight?  Will I eat dinner or not?  Will I be able to stand up long enough to shower before I collapse?  Who knows?  Every day is something new!

It’s all fine.  I’m not ready to throw in the towel just yet.  I will just fold it and put it away.  Because, laundry pile.


Girl drama

My daughter is going into 6th grade this year, which means I will have two—TWO—kids in middle school at the same time.  What a fabulous time to be alive.  I’m putting my therapist is on speed dial.

I remember being that age and how hard it was.  Everything is changing, and it’s scary, embarrassing, confusing, exciting,  weird, all of it.  It is all of the emotions all of the time.  It is angst.  It is change—good and not so good; physical, emotional, circumstantial, social.  Side note:  my mom talked with us very openly about puberty changes from a young age, so though I was mortified by what was happening to my body, I wasn’t surprised.  My mom used to always say, “You’re developing“.  Over and over, I kept hearing that I was developing.  God, I hated that word.  I still do—there’s just something about it, the way it sounds in my ears.  Probably because of the subject matter attached to it.  I guess it’s better than blossoming, or flourishing.  Blech.  I have trouble even using it in other contexts, like a developing news story a developing idea, a developing country.  Anyhow, I think I have mostly been using the words “growing” and “changing” in our little girl talks, but my girl has made it clear that she DOES NOT WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT.   She does this by covering her ears and running away, or sliding down in her chair and escaping under the kitchen table at any mention of the subject.  It’s going well.

Side note number two: Why isn’t anyone around me telling me about what’s happening to my 40-something year old body?  It’s equally weird and alarming. I think I’m developing again.  Or maybe un-developing.  Something like that.

Anyhow, as a parent, I knew that once we crossed the middle school threshold that we were in for a bumpy ride.  I was ready for the fact that there would be girl drama.  We girls know all about it, unfortunately.  What I wasn’t prepared for was that it would start so much earlier than I was anticipating.

Right around the middle of the school year in fifth grade, it began.  Tears as she ran off the bus, telling me about how this friend did that, and then that friend told the other friend about it, and on and on, round and round.  The players changed almost every week; I could hardly keep up.  My emotions would flare as she recounted the details, and I wanted to just go over there and give those girls a piece of my mind….

But wait—she was telling me things that did not compute in my brain.  These interactions were happening with her little group of sweet girls that she had been friends with since early elementary.  I have known them all for years.  They come to my house for sleepovers, birthday parties, and playdates.  They wave happily to me in the hallway whenever I happen to be at school.  I love them.

And yet, she is telling me that sweet little so-and so, who I would have thought could never hurt a fly, is pulling these power plays at school.  Or sometimes it’s not that so-and-so, it’s some other what’s-her-name, and I’m just….horrified. Confused.  Starting to relive my own repressed middle school trauma.  I started to check myself (before I wrecked myself, ’cause I’m bad for your health, I come real stealth, dropping bombs on your moms…).  Sorry Ice Cube, I’ll stop now.

I coach Girls on the Run every spring, and I had an opportunity to watch these situations play out first hand.  It was awful.  These girls that I have coached for years suddenly seemed to have zero interest in participating in the running and character building activities, choosing instead to dissociate themselves from the girls not in their social group and divert their attention to whatever social drama had been playing out during the rest of the school day.  I started to see patterns—one girl showing up as the leader of the pack and the others following.  I didn’t know what to do.  Was I supposed to do something?  Would that even interrupt this emerging (developing!) social order?

So I did what I always do.  I bought a book.  A very brilliant book called Queen Bees and Wannabees by Rosalind Wiseman.  Anyone who remembers the movie Mean Girls from 2004 might be interested to know that the movie was based on this book.  With great insight, the author details the sophisticated nature of cliques that emerge (develop!) during the teen and preteen years, with girls falling into very predictable roles:

The Queen Bee:  As the name suggests, the Queen Bee is the leader of the pack.  The popular one. Not only do the other girls follow her, the Queen continually exerts her power over the other girls to maintain her status and keep the others in line.

The Sidekick:  The second in command and the Queen’s loyal subject.  Though she is the Queen’s bestie, she does not have quite as much power as the Queen, and is still subject to the Queen’s authority.  However, together the Queen and the Sidekick appear to rule the social world.

The Banker:  This girl is a clever one.  She manipulates other girls in a way that gets them to confide in her, and then she uses that information in order to strengthen her own social status and embarrass, cause conflict, or kick other girls down the popularity totem pole.

The Floater:  She seems to be friends with everyone, often floating around to several social groups.  Floaters tend not to engage in the power plays going on in a particular group, but they are well-liked, confident, nice to everyone, and sometimes will stand up to the Queen Bee if needed.

The Torn Bystander:  As the name indicates, this girl wants the social status afforded to her by being in the clique and in the Queen’s good graces, but at the same time has internal conflict about doing the right thing.  She will often get caught in the middle of conflict but is too scared to stand up to the Queen, choosing instead to try to accommodate everyone and try to get everyone to get along.

The Pleaser/Wannabee/Messenger:  Wiseman says that most every girl will fall into this role at some point.  Sometimes she’s in the clique, and sometimes she’s not.  The Queen and the Sidekick will often use her in their power plays, getting her to do things like spread gossip.  She is ever loyal to the Queen in an effort to remain in the clique, but she is easily dropped from the social group, which keeps her motivated to do things that will maintain her social status.

The Target:  The one chosen by the queen to be mocked, excluded, and set up to be the victim.  Targets outside of the clique are what the group considers to be “losers”.  They are the Marty McFlys (McFlies?  McFly’s?  Grammar girl, help me!), the Ronald Millers (oh Patrick Dempsey, you were so super cute in the 80’s!), and the Napoleon Dynamites of the social order.  Targets can also be a girl inside of the clique if it is felt that she needs to be knocked down a peg.

As I read Wiseman’s theory about teenage social order and the different roles that girls play within it, I started to see my daughter’s world with new eyes. The next GOTR practice, I watched.  I saw it.  It was painful.  I began to see who was who.  As tearful stories continued to come home from school, I was able to see them through a different lens. And I started to wonder:

“Where do these girls learn this stuff??”  Not from me.  I hardly even have any friends, let alone enough to form this kind of a complicated social structure.  I also wondered, “What is my daughter’s role in her social group, and what is she doing to others to maintain it?”  She can’t be innocent.  Can’t be.  If all of these not-so-little girls that I have watched grow up are capable of these things, surely so is she.  I mean, she is a delightful cherub and all, but still.

My next questions are:  What do I do??  Can I stop this cycle that has been going on in the world of middle and high school girls since the beginning of time?  How do I know what is really going on when I only hear one side of the story?  When do I intervene, and how?  How do I help her?  What do I say?

I don’t know any of it.  I’m only part way through the book because I started reading it in May, which is the worst time of year to try to read a book because of all the end of school year activities, and then I got distracted by another book.  I am sure that there is no easy answer though.  If there were it wouldn’t keep happening, because none of us want our girls to endure such things.

What I do know is something that I could have never known when it was happening to me.  It is all motivated by fear.  Fear of being an outcast, not fitting in, being ostracized, not having anyone to sit with at lunch or hang out with on the weekends.  Fear of sticking out.  Fear of being different.  Fear of setting boundaries.  Fear of what will happen to their own social status if they stick up for someone else.  Fear of the next move in this crazy chess game disguised as a popularity contest.

I can’t make that fear go away.  The desire for belonging and acceptance in a peer group is a developmental need in this age group, just as urgent as the need for parental connection during infancy and, later, the need for exploration, autonomy, and mastering new skills.

If I hadn’t known them since kindergarten, it would be easy for me to dehumanize these girls and say things like, “Never mind her, she is a b*tch and you should stay away from her”.  But remember, we are talking about sweet little so-and-so or adorable what’s-her-face, girls that I know and love and care about.  So I can’t say that, nor should I.  That’s someone else’s little girl and, just like I would want another parent to be able to see the sweet kid behind the newly estrogenized creature that is my daughter were she to do something mean, I have to try to do the same for her friends, enemies, and frenemies.  As to how successfully I am carrying this out, all I can say is that I’m trying.

A parting thought, from the wise Glennon Doyle (you guys all know she is my favorite):

“Horseshoes are better than circles.  Leave space.  Always leave space.  Horseshoes of friends > circles of friends.  Life can be lonely.  Stand in horseshoes.

I think it can take years for us to unlearn the social hierarchy we find ourselves caught up in during our teen years.   I think some people never unlearn it, and continue to create drama and circles, gossip and outcasts.  If I am to be honest, I think that one of the reasons that I self-identify as an introverted, slightly awkward, party-averse kind of gal is because of some of my own baggage that I carry from growing up and coming of age.  I can tell you that I am all of those things about myself and it protectively excludes me from being subject to any pecking order that some person or group may try to impose on me.

But I like the idea of horseshoes instead of circles, and I am trying to teach this concept to my daughter.  I would join a horseshoe. Maybe not if it was a big horseshoe party because, you know, baby steps.

I don’t know if hearing this message from me will be as powerful as the need to fit in within her peer group, but it’s worth a try.  And maybe, just maybe, if we all do it, do you think it is possible for us to raise a kinder, more inclusive generation of girls?

Maybe. Maybe not. But I’m going to try.





The worst part of parenting (so far)

I just found out what the absolute worst part of parenting is.

It’s not the lack of sleep, picking up your crying baby every 90 minutes and just praying to God that this child would sleep for more than 2 hours (though that’s terrible, no question).

It’s not the terrible twos, (or more often, the terrible threes), complete with tantrums and potty training.

It’s not being home with two kids in diapers and feeling like all you do is change them, feed them, watch annoying TV shows, and try to get them down for naps so you can have a break or take a shower.

It’s not being at work and worrying about whether your child is doing OK at daycare, and feeling sad about all the milestones and precious moments you may be missing.

It’s not disciplining your child over and over for the same thing, wondering what you’re doing wrong.

It’s not sweating over 5th grade math homework or being a chauffeur 24/7 to all your kids’ activities; being the warm body that seems to be there only to fulfill everyone’s desires for food, clean laundry, entertainment, and transportation.

No, it’s none of those things. The absolute worst part of parenting is that first time your kid pushes you away.  The first time you go in for a kiss on the cheek and he turns his head.  Or the time you ask for a hug and, for the first time in his entire life, he says “no”.  And you know the little boy who used to run to you when you came in the door, or cried when you left the house, or kept stalling bedtime for just “one more hug” is gone.  The little one who needed me to “put kisses in his pockets” so he had them if he needed them at school is no more. The sweet kid that always wanted to be within arm’s reach has vanished into his bedroom, the door closed.

Now I’m a nag.  I’m annoying,  My silly jokes and songs are no longer needed or appreciated.  I don’t get to sing him to sleep, give him a bath, or hold his hand (though admittedly, how weird would that be to still be doing that with your thirteen year old?). When was the last time I washed his hair? When did he last sit in my lap? What was the last bedtime story I read to him?

I know he loves me.  I know it’s just different now.  I know that I’m still needed, even if that doesn’t look the same as it used to.  I know I just need to ride it out, let him come to me, and be a constant source of love and encouragement in the background, even as he pulls away.  He needs to pull away.  He needs to become his own person, figure out this strange new world he’s in, become independent, and be with his friends.  We all did it, I know.  I know.

But today I didn’t get a hug.  And it was the worst.


May madness

Is is possible to die from parenting during the months of May and June? Because I think I’m on my deathbed.  You will soon see my obituary:  Tracy W., 1975-2019.  Died from an accumulation of band concerts, field trips, doctor’s appointments, laundry, and yard work.  Survived by her equally haggard husband and two cranky, overstimulated children.

I am a zombie.  A mombie.  I am the walking dead.  I am broke.  I am a victim of noise pollution.  My body hurts.  I fall asleep the moment I am horizontal.  I want to eat things but I don’t want to have to make things to eat.  People keep saying words to me and it’s just too much.  I can’t be expected to listen to all the words.  All talking should cease after 7 pm so that the swelling in my brain can recede before morning.

My mind is a swirling tornado of information, mental to-do’s, plans for tomorrow/next week/next month, shopping lists, and fantasies of spending a whole day on the couch doing nothing.  I am physically unable to be in all of the places that I am required to be.

Last week my husband had to go to a training on Wednesday night.  Now, Wednesday night is our run-around night.  My daughter has dance from 6:30-7:30 pm, and my son has karate from 5:30-7:30 pm.  Usually the hubs and I divide and conquer, but last week I was on my own.  So, no biggie, it’s just one week, I got this.  Jeff was able to take Nate to karate on the way to his training, so I took Leah to dance, and my plan was to hang around during her lesson and then swing around and pick Nate up on our way home.  WELL.  They put a new Home Goods store right next door to the dance studio!  I had brought my computer and planned to get some bills and banking done, but then I said to myself, “Self, here is an opportunity for self care.  Let us go browse in Home Goods and we will declare this activity to be self care“.

So I had just passed the ottomans and was looking at the drapes when my phone rang.  It was Nate.

“Mom, my blue belt graduation ceremony is happening right now.

“What??  I had that on the calendar for tomorrow!”

“No, it’s happening NOW!”

“Oh, ok, well……let me check to see if one of the other moms can bring Leah home or, I don’t know…ummm, gahh….”

“Mom, it’s OK.  It’s OK if you can’t come.” (this was sweet of him, but that almost made me feel worse about potentially missing it)

“I’ll see what I can do.  I’ll try my best to get there!”

So I sent a few texts to my fellow moms, but finding a last minute ride for Leah wasn’t happening.  There I sat in the parking lot, feeling terrible, frustrated with myself for writing down the wrong date, impatient for Leah’s class to be over so we could zip over and maybe catch the end of the ceremony.

We blew into the dojo at 7:45 pm.  My heart sank when I saw the almost empty parking lot–we most definitely had missed it.  We ran in the door, and there sat Nate, looking calm, cool, and collected.

“We’re so sorry honey!  I tried so hard to get here but…”

“Oh, it’s OK mom, you were right, it is tomorrow.  Sorry.”  He shrugged nonchalantly, completely oblivious to the stomach ulcer that had been forming within me for the past 45 minutes.

My face is still clenchy from that.  Or maybe it’s not from that, specifically.  Who can know these things, really?  I looked at my calendar, and during May and June we have:

  • 11 Girls on the Run practices
  • 7 dance practices
  • 1 dance rehearsal
  • 1 dance recital
  • 1 DARE graduation (we asked Leah, “What did you learn in DARE?” and she said, “um, I don’t know, I think be nice to people.”  “Didn’t you learn anything about drugs?”  we inquired.  “Oh, yeah, don’t do drugs!”)
  • 1 parade in which all of the DARE graduates wave at the crowd from a float, even though most of them can’t remember what they learned or what DARE stands for
  • 1 moving up ceremony
  • 2 5K runs
  • 2 plays
  • 2 band concerts
  • 3 field trips
  • 2 orthodontist appointments
  • 1 dentist appointment
  • 2 eye doctor appointments
  • 3 haircuts
  • 1 bikini wax (self care!)
  • 3 graduation parties
  • 1 van repair after the automatic door blew a gasket
  • 1 central A/C replacement after the old unit crapped the bed (preceded by 2 appointments for estimates)
  • 1 driveway sealing appointment
  • 1 roof tear-off/replacement
  • one husband who is going back to school full time and has a full summer course load
  • Our 20th anniversary (Honey, I got you a new van door, a central A/C unit, and a roof! You’re welcome!)

And a partridge in a pear tree.

The end.

If you need me, I will be in a padded room.


American Eagle, Steve Jobs, and the denim belt

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?

Son:  Yes.

Me:  Trapped….in your pants?

Son:  Yes.



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.