Friday, October 17, 2008

The Sartorialist

Life with a determined four-year-old is a series of negotiations enlivened with occasional combat. Sometimes you have to let them win, sometimes you have to choose your battles, and sometimes you have to take a hard line. Three cliches, I know...I’m busy.

Our most recent battle was over clothing. It’s cool enough now that shorts and t-shirts are no longer appropriate; long pants and long-sleeved shirts are required. 7yo’s reaction to this, as to all other clothing-related matters, is no reaction whatsoever. I lay clothes out for him every night to save time in the morning, and he puts on whatever is there; doesn’t think about it, doesn’t look at it, doesn’t care.

4yo is another matter entirely. From approximately age 2, he’s had opinions, firmly held ones, regarding his attire. One morning about two years ago, having complained to me about not liking the shirt he was wearing (a shirt which up to that point I’d had a hard time separating him from), and having been told that we didn’t have time to change clothes, he expressed his displeasure by stripping naked and flinging every garment he’d been wearing; shirt, pants, socks, underpants, everything, then standing naked, glaring at me with his tiny arms crossed defiantly across his toddler chest. We often have to haggle over clothing choices. Colors and patterns are entirely negotiable. If he wants a striped shirt with madras shorts, then who cares, right? He’s a preschooler. I do enforce standards, however, for cleanliness and weather-appropriateness. 4yo was not happy when I explained one recent morning that the 45-degree temperature precluded the wearing of short pants (they’re never called “shorts” by the 4yo; always “short pants”). He loves his short pants. He HATES long pants. He didn’t WANT to wear long pants. Long pants are STUPID and STINKY. Only STONKHEADS wear long pants.

“Look”, I pointed out, “Ahpa is wearing long pants”.

The “Ahpa is…” technique is usually very successful:

Ahpa is going to take a shower? OK, then I’ll take a shower.

Ahpa’s eating his peas? OK, I’ll choke a few down.

Ahpa’s wearing long pants? Ahpa’s a fashion-challenged stonkhead who wouldn’t know style if it bit him on the ass, so tell it to What Not to Wear, OK?

I finally prevailed on the issue of long pants and left 4yo to play while I started making breakfast and lunches. Five minutes later, he entered the kitchen, walking as though he’d just hopped off an underweight horse.
“See?” he said, satisfaction evident on his face. “I TOLJU that it’s not too cold for short pants!” Necessity being the mother of invention, he’d rolled his pants up well above his knees and his sleeves halfway up his upper arms. Et voila! Short pants and a short-sleeved shirt! So there, mommy! Comfort was obviously not his first consideration, as the bulk around his thighs made walking and sitting difficult, and as he began moments later to complain that his legs were cold. “I know, it’s crazy, right?” I said. He reacted with utter disdain to the suggestion that the solution to the latter was to roll down his pants.

This morning, after a few days of unseasonable warmth that had allowed the temporary return of the beloved short pants, we returned to the reviled long pants, and 4yo once again rolled them up to his thighs and waddled into the kitchen for his bagel. His serene and smugly confident demeanor said “leave the lazy comfort-first aesthetic to Joe the Plumber and his ilk. I shall maintain a dignified and stylish appearance at all times and under all circumstances.” It’s a lot of look, but he pulls it off.

32 comments:

dguzman said...

OMG, I am just like 4yo. I've been reluctant to shed my daily shorts, even though it's raining and 40 degrees outside.

Today--reluctantly--wearing cordoroy long pants. Sigh.

Miss Kate said...

I am a lurker via Google Reader, but I just have to tell you how entertaining it is to read about your kids. Those boys sound hilarious, and you have such a dry way of presenting your stories - I get a huge kick out of them.

DCup said...

I can't type because I'm laughing too hard!!!!!

WM said...

Socks. That's been our battle!

enc said...

Uh oh! Utter disdain is spreading! Run for your lives!

pistols at dawn said...

I wish someone would lay out my clothes for me, too. I mean, I do, but just because I'm too poor to afford hangers.

CDP said...

dguzman--I like my summer clothes too, but I do like the change.

Miss Kate--thank you! I love lurkers; I'm flattered that anyone reads my silliness.

dcup--the visual is even funnier.

wm--that's another one! Every day, I send him into the world with socks and every day he returns with shoes worn over bare feet.

enc--seriously! But you don't know utter disdain until you live with a preschooler; they are masters at looking upon you with utter disdain.

Pistols--Do you at least have furniture?

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

He's headed for Project Runway!

liss n kids said...

So do you and I seriously have clone children who just happen to be going through life two years apart? Jabber has *never* questioned his clothing. So imagine my surprise when Monkey did the exact same thing as your 4yo and stripped off his clothing yelling, "NO! NOT THIS ONE!" over and over?

And how do you explain to an almost-2yo that "Dude, we haven't done laundry in three weeks. This paisely jumpsuit is all we have left for you to wear to daycare. It's either that or, no, never mind. NO you may not go naked."

Matty Boy said...

Somebody he cares about told him he has cute knees. Who knows, maybe he saw them in a mirror and said "Da-yam! Cute knees!"

Can't hide your best feature. Boy has to get himself correct.

CDP said...

Dr. Monkey--I am confident in his ability to make it work.

Liss--you know, I think some sort of wrinkle in the time/space continuum has allowed you to have my children three years ago, because the similarities between them are uncanny.

Matty--the tiny one has looked upon himself and is well pleased; I think he'd be hard pressed to pick only one best feature.

themom said...

Ya have to love 'em. My grandson has to match everything perfectly - he has to be sauve at all times. Enjoy!

pushing said...

Ha ha ha! you make having kids sound so entertaining and funny, I almost want one of my own. Then I remember I'm a cat lady.

FranIAm said...

This kid - he has "teh smart."

Watch it!

Distributorcap said...

something tells me you will spending a lot of time in malls buying clothing

CDP said...

themom--"suave" is exactly the word.

Fran--He does indeed have "teh smart". Also "teh style". Formidable combination.

Pushing--I cannot keep up with you, woman of multiple identities!

Dcap--well, it will be OK as long as his brother continues not to care about his own look!

3carnations said...

The only way we get through the transformation from shorts to pants (and back again in the spring) is by discussing it well in advance. I watch the 7 day forecast and say "Thursday will probably be a long sleeved shirt and long pants day." Then I remind him daily. When we're both lucky, it's not an issue by the time Thursday rolls around. Plus we go shopping for a few cool new long sleeved shirts. :)

Gnugs said...

ah. but back in my dress and Mary Jane days, I had a hard time understanding why my underwear - always so colorful, and pretty - should be hidden on the inside of my leggings.

Rolled up pants? I wish I was that cool.

CDP said...

3carn--I do that now, too! I started warning him last Wednesday that Friday would be a long pants day, but he decided to disregard that...he's like a dictator who only hears what he wishes to hear.

gnugs--Yes, only people as suave as my four year old can really pull that off.

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I'm dyin'.

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