Family life

Oh dear, what is my son wearing now?

Susan Goldberg tries to reach a mutual agreement with her son about his wardrobe choices.

2013-07-16 08

Isaac dressed in his most recent outfit. Photo: Susan Goldberg.

Thunder Bay, Ont. writer Susan Goldberg is a transplanted Torontonian and one of two mothers to two boys. Follow along as she shares her family’s experiences.

It’s going to be 30°C today, and that’s before the humidity.

So, of course, it makes perfect sense that Isaac has chosen to wear full-length, black fleece pants, with a plaid flannel shirt. With long sleeves. Buttoned all the way up to the top.

Never mind that he has accessorized this outfit with several necklaces and a belt he fashioned out of coloured wire and several blue glass beads, or the fact that he is wearing two different socks — one grey-and-blue striped, the other green-and-navy striped — pulled up high over the black fleece pants so that the pants resemble lederhosen. Or the fact that over those socks he is wearing bright yellow Crocs. (“Mom, do you like my style?” he said this morning as he sashayed into the kitchen.) Never mind that this is the kid who asks each humid summer night to wear his one-piece stripy fleece pajamas: I go to check on him and he is soaked in sweat and I quietly remove them while he sleeps.

All that is an aside. For now, let us focus on the fact that his wardrobe choices (aside from the Crocs) are geared toward mid-February but that it is in fact the height of summer and that if he weren’t in an air-conditioned summer camp for the day he would likely keel over from heat stroke.

Read more: When kids choose their own outfits >

In fact, last week he chose a similar outfit for an outdoor barbecue party — a party at which the kids who were wearing sensible things like shorts and T-shirts were overheating. We made a deal: he could wear the sweatpants and the button-up shirt, as long as he also put on a sun hat I had doused in cold water and then ran through the sprinkler at regular intervals. He agreed, and spent the party happily soaked while I drank a glass of wine and stopped worrying. So much.

Isaac has for years been very particular about what he wears. There was the dress phase, the pink shirt phase, the period for months at a time where he wore only two rugby shirts (which I have since quietly removed from his wardrobe — they’re too small and too stained for public consumption). His resistance to wearing shorts doesn’t have to do with being cold. “I don’t like how they look,” is his reason, and who can really argue with that? I know plenty of grown-ups who don’t feel that they look good in shorts, although their solution isn’t to pile on the fleece in July. Perhaps we’ll look into capris?

Read more: Your kids’ wackiest outfits >

In the meantime, I do my best support his clothing choices — but I have also removed most of the sweatpants and anything made out of flannel or wool from his drawers. Because sometimes it’s easier to prevent battles than fight them once the clothes are already on. And I console myself with the fact that not only do I have a child with a strong fashion sense but that at least I don’t have to put sunscreen on him.

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