The Clothes Of The Second Child

I have a confession to make.

When the boy was little, I had myself some… ahem!… clothing issues with him.

As in, I ironed my toddler and preschooler and second grader’s shirts.  I ironed them all of the time, year after year.  The boy never set foot in school with wrinkles.  I straightened his collars, made sure his buttons were done up properly, and never let him leave the house with socks that didn’t match each other, footwear that didn’t match his outfit, or a top that didn’t match his bottom.

Besides all that, I shopped the brand names on clearance sales all.  of.  the.  time.  The boy wore Ralph Lauren and Abercrombie and Tommy Hilfiger.  He wore Old Navy and Mini Boden and Crewcuts.  I shopped the sales, refusing to pay top dollar for anything.  I bought shirts and shorts big, and then I stored them at the back of the closet, until they fit him, simply because SCREAMING GOOD DEAL.  The kid was even written out of my will one day when he pointed at the logo on his Ralph Lauren polo and asked me, “Why do so many of my shirts have this guy on the horse, holding a stick, on them?”

Several times over the years, the boy’s teachers would tell me, “He’s always dressed so nicely.  I think he deserves the BEST DRESSED award!”  I won’t lie.  The part of me that had stayed up late, ironing a collar just so for the following day of third grade was pleased.

I believe the phrase you’re looking for is I MAY HAVE NEEDED COUNSELING.

Go ahead and judge.

Now, the boy picks his own clothes out, and let me tell you:  He leans all the way toward button-up shirts with Ralph’s little polo pony on them, collared golf shirts by Under Armour and khaki slacks.

In other words, the boy still looks like he’s about to walk onto a yacht, after attending an elite private school all day.


He’s done his mama’s heart proud.

And then…

Lord, forgive me

… Thing 2 came along, and I was…

… different.

IMG_6861Oh, I love that little pumpkin every single bit as much as I love his older brother, but I’m older now, which I hope also translates into I AM WISER NOW.  My gray hairs and my wisdom have just let me know that IT’S OKAY FOR A KID TO DRESS HIMSELF, and that wrinkles in a four-year-old’s shirt don’t always mean MAMA AIN’T REALLY GOT HER ACT TOGETHER, BECAUSE LOOK AT THIS WRINKLED-UP SLEEVE!

Which, you know, is fantastic that I’ve finally learned that, because… whereas the boy would wear WHATEVER I pressed with the iron and laid out for him each morning when he was little… Thing 2 has himself some VERY STRONG OPINIONS about his outfits.

Jeans are basically a no-go.  If you see Thing 2 in jeans, rest assured that there were TEARS A-PLENTY in putting them on (Most of those tears were probably from ME!), and that I exercised my card of parental authority to force him to wear them.  This primarily happens for church, because I tend to want my boys to look a little better than I’M HEADING TO THE GYM FOR MY WORKOUT when they go to Sunday School.

Also?  Buttons are a deal breaker with Thing 2.  He is not fond of shirts with buttons, pants with buttons, or buttons anywhere in his vicinity.  Buttons, apparently, equal UNCOMFORTABLE to our younger son.  And this opinion, people?  Well, it pretty much smashes all of my hopes and dreams for Ralph Lauren, button-down-collar oxfords.

Apparently, he’ll never get into private school, and he’ll always look like he’s just floating the river in a tube, rather than kicking back on a chaise lounge on the yacht’s upper deck.

What Thing 2 prefers to wear is either sweatpants or a pair of ratty gym shorts, paired with a T-shirt.  Right now, he’s in love with what he happily calls “strong shirts,” because they show his muscles.  Strong shirts are the ones everyone else calls “tank tops.”  Thing 2 is completely behind the slogan, “Sun’s out, guns out” at the moment.  He does like the ladies to notice his biceps.

So this, people… this strong-willed attitude toward wardrobe choices in our four-year-old, combined with my realization that IRONING IS NOT MY FAVORITE THING IN LIFE and that SPRAY-STARCH IS RIDICULOUS AFTER ALL, has led me to a point in life where I have said, “Dress yourself, Kiddo.”

And dress himself, he does.

For instance, yesterday’s outfit was a pair of Mini Boden shorts, in red, and covered in white sharks.  He paired those bottoms with a green-and-gray-striped strong shirt, and then he added cowboy boots, because you just never know when you’re gonna have to jump on the back of a horse and save a damsel in distress.


He was in public yesterday in that mismatched outfit, and I found myself saying to strangers everywhere, “He dressed himself.”  That part of my pride that Jesus is working on didn’t want folks to think that I had paired that shirt with those shorts!

Here he is yesterday with Little Cousin H, who was dressed in a perfectly-matched summer outfit.  (And yes, she’s holding an empty bottle, because she quite happily sneaked a little milk in a baby bottle for the fun of it, which is something you can still get away with when you’re four, while Thing 2 slurped a Sprite beside her.)

IMG_6868Today, Thing 2 opted to go a different route with his fashion sense.

Primarily, he wore his shirt INSIDE OUT and also BACKWARDS, at the same time.   And he wore his Under Armour shorts CROOKED and BACKWARDS.  And he wore his cowboy boots ON THE WRONG STINKING FEET.  When I mentioned that PERHAPS he might want to make some wardrobe changes, he passionately informed me that NO.  NO, HE DID NOT CARE TO ADJUST ANYTHING HE WAS WEARING.


I just banked on the hope that anyone who saw him would KNOW in the deepest parts of their heart that I had nothing to do with INSIDE OUT and BACKWARD and TOTALLY WRONG FEET.

I guess it’s true about your parenting styles relaxing a bit with your second child.

I’m just afraid if Hubs and I ever had a third one, he’d walk around in nothing but his Batman underwear and flip-flops every day.

Y’all have a merry Sunday evening.


1 thought on “The Clothes Of The Second Child

  1. Might I submit that it isn’t that he’s your second child but, rather, that there’s a big age gap. I feel like Imma be totally more chill with Will.

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