What Not to Wear

Sometimes when acquaintances learn that my children are all boys, they will say something brilliant and flippant like “Oh, boys are so much easier to raise,” to which I always want to respond, “Clearly, you do not know my children.”

Why does this comment make me want to roll my eyes, groan madly, and pull out clumps of my post-baby head of already-molting hair? It’s a little conversational generality that people repeat because, I presume, they believe it to be true. It might be true. For them.

But I tend to get bristly when I hear it because (though I don’t think people intend it this way) it is pretty insulting. People can say lots of things about raising sons which honestly do not apply to my particular brood of boys. I dislike hearing such broad stereotypes, even if they are meant to paint my family life in complimentary terms. We simply don’t fit into that sort of precast mold. My sons are sensitive, funny, handsome, thoughtful, curious, caring, and sweet. They also have vivid personalities, wild tempers, extreme hang-ups, and unequivocal opinions about pretty much everything. I completely love them. But don’t tell me that raising them is some sort of bunny-hill version of parenting.

Take clothing for instance. This is supposedly one area where boys are known for “being flexible” and wowing their parents with a supremely easy-going attitude about wearing whatever those parents place in their closets, or so I hear. Jack’s pediatric gastroenterologist, a mother of three grown sons, learned I had four boys and began reminiscing about going to Mervyn’s in her kids’ younger years and bringing home piles of a) shirts and b) pants, which her kids apparently just compliantly and interchangeably wore. No fuss.

This is certainly not the case at my house. If I were to bring home piles of mom-selected clothing and present it to my children, this is what would happen: Henry would announce “Forget it. I’m not wearing that,” Jack would place the clothes either in the bathtub for a good soaking (and lots of excitement!) or sprinkle them around the backyard before stripping off his own clothes to add to the mix, and Charlie would obstinately refuse the new duds unless they featured a neon Lego superhero on a garish background. Fortunately, baby still wears whatever I put on him.

My eldest goes through multiple wardrobe changes per day. Between his school uniform and his pj’s, he is a veritable fashion show of skinny jeans, basketball shorts, graphic tees, and hoodies. He is quite the fashionista. But don’t try to influence his style or you will be met with an icy rebuke. Jack, who only wears comfort clothes, likewise changes constantly. He likes to engage in the recreational swapping of sweat pants for track pants all the live-long day. It’s good times for Jack and maddeningly laundry-producing for me. My four-year-old fears new clothes vehemently, which makes Sundays, family photo shoots, and the first day of school your basic nightmare.

Does any of this sound easier than dressing girls? I really can’t say, since I don’t have one of those. Shopping for girls appears, from my limited vantage point, to be a foray into an embarrassment of riches. It’s all cute! In the boys’ section it’s all skulls and crossbones and camouflage. Or dinosaurs driving tractors.

My boys are marvelously opinionated about what they wear and I have given up trying to control it much. We aren’t lacking for opinions or personality at our house, and the laundry never quits either. I’m really okay with all of this.

Just don’t feed me some line about how breezy it is raising boys unless you want to see my head start spinning around in circles.

  7 comments for “What Not to Wear

  1. April 3, 2012 at 5:39 am

    I find my children equally difficult to dress. My son refuses jeans for basketball shorts and “comfy” pants. He is most particular about his socks, though. Only one particular brand without a seam across the toe is acceptable. My daughter’s fashion sense changes with the wind. One day she will wear only hand me down dinosaur pajamas, until a princess dress becomes necessary, which will eventually become “too scratchy” and then we will break out the jeans that our son won’t wear (but only if the ballerina shirt is clean to pair with them). I don’t think either gender is easy to dress…

  2. April 3, 2012 at 2:47 pm

    Having 3 boys I have to simply agree with you. Brody hates button down shirts and Jax is always picking his clothes out. If I do and he doesn’t like it he throws a tantrum. Jax is even picky with his coats. Also, I think boys are just as emotional as girls. Raising kids is hard! It doesn’t matter if they are a boy or girl. By the way, you are a wonderful mom!!

  3. April 3, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    It all depends on the kid. Carson, he is so easy in many other aspects, but he is fairly picky about clothes. Church clothes are the worse. He will fight me on it most Sunday mornings. We got him a snazzy pin stripe pair of pants with a matching vest, but the vest is rarely worn with the ensemble.
    I have to choose my battles wisely with her. For the most part, she loves everything I pick out for her and even tries to wear lots of the items at the same time. If we are staying home, I don’t push it.
    Benny, like your little guy, is still quite content with whatever I want to put on him. Lately he prefers no pants and diaper, but that’s another story 🙂

  4. April 3, 2012 at 5:12 pm

    Hahahaha! I was just about rolling on the floor with laughter! Well put, Megan! I’m so glad to know that I am not alone!

    I have been contending with this since before Mac was out of diapers. And Dillon is just as bad. I shrug my shoulders now and say “fine, wear whatever” (which sometimes requires a few deep breathes). I’ve even taken to hanging up the clothes on the floor (or having them do it) if they don’t look dirty or smell badly. And just buy clothes for them? Ha. I have to get their o.k. first before I purchase anything. Emotions? Wow, off the charts some days.

    From what I’ve come to discover having nannied and now being a mom, there is no sex that is any easier to parent than the other. Let’s just hope that they get most of it out of their systems now, so that maybe life will be a little easier when they’re teens. Oh, and remember, the mother’s curse does work. My kids are living proof of that. 🙂

  5. April 3, 2012 at 5:49 pm

    I was told this phrase ALL the time too. And yes shopping in a 4 sq ft at the store has it’s challenges. Honestly now that I have a girl (granted she is only 1 year old)- I thinkthe sex as nothing to do with their ease or lack thereof, but rather their personality. Good luck on dressing the boys.

  6. April 3, 2012 at 7:09 pm

    Good argument for moving to a nudist colony. It’d be so much easier…and cheaper!

  7. LC
    April 9, 2012 at 3:41 am

    My older girls are going through a tomboy phase. And hey, I can’t complain– old reunion t-shirts are free and basketball shorts are pretty easy to come by. Now if they would just let me style their hair…
    As always love your writing!!

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