Full disclosure: I cried when I found out that my last baby was a boy. Our kid progression up to that point went girl, boy, girl, boy, boy. So when my husband and I went in for my 20-week ultrasound, I was fully prepared to hear that we were going to have another girl, thus rounding out our family into the much sought-after “Brady Bunch” format.
But no. A BOY. I kept it together for the remainder of the ultrasound, as we ooh-ed and ahh-ed at his 10 fingers, 10 toes and scary/adorable Darth Maul ultrasound face. We were of course thrilled, but as I broke down crying in the waiting room afterward, I struggled to explain to my bewildered husband exactly what was the matter.
“It’s not that I’m sad that it’s a boy,” I said. And I meant it. I think little boys are just about the cutest things in the world. “I was just ready for a girl.”
Or, more to the point: girl clothes.
Having already been through three sons, our boy clothes were looking a little ragged. But besides that, I was just DONE with the dinosaurs, construction trucks, space ships and plaid that define the mini menswear aesthetic. I was ready to pull out the cute little girl clothes that had been languishing in storage for years: sweet dresses with butterflies and flowers, ruffly headbands and bloomers and tiny Mary Jane’s. But it wasn’t going to happen.
So the hand-me-down train continued, and is still going strong today, four years later. It seems like no matter what I buy, the younger three boys often look like they rolled off their beds onto a pile of clothes and got dressed in whatever they landed on.
But my oldest son, George – a handsome kid just about to turn 14 – is undergoing a style renaissance of sorts. This is surprising, seeing as in the past he has insisted on wearing gym shorts even on the most freezing days of winter. I have since decreed that January shall hereafter be known as Pants-uary, wherein all males in the household must don full-length legwear for the entire month.
Clothing has never been of any particular interest to George. When he was about 4 years old and getting ready to start preschool, I took him out for the day to buy some new clothes. We had been shopping for a while, stocking up on T-shirts and cool GI Joe shoes, and I decided that we definitely needed a doughnut break before we headed out to a couple more stores. As we sat outside eating our treat, I started chatting him up; you know, mother-son bonding time and all that.
“Hey buddy, what’s your favorite thing to do?”
He thought for a minute and good naturedly said, “Everything!”
“And what’s something you really don’t like to do?” I asked.
He didn’t have to think about that for longer than half a second: “Um, I don’t like to go to boring stores that don’t have any toys.”
It was definitely a special feeling when I realized that the hours we had just spent together were literally some of the worst moments of his life.
But now that he’s in eighth grade, something has shifted. He’s started wearing button-up shirts to school and mentioning how much he’d like a pair of Vans and skinny jeans. For the first time in his entire life, the majority of items on his birthday wish list are clothes instead of toys.
I was mentioning this the other day to my hairstylist as she gave me a trim.
“I’m not quite sure what’s bringing on this sudden interest in his appearance,” I said.
She looked at me like I was crazy and stated the obvious: “Uh, a girl.”
Yes. Of course.
The next day, when I floated this theory to George, he slightly corrected my understanding: “Well yeah, but like, ALL girls.”
All I can say is, Old Navy better watch out, because I am now unstoppable when it comes to clothing this boy. It’s like I’m making up for all the years of stretched-out Minecraft T-shirts and baggy track pants. And tonight, I’m going to pile up some skinny jeans and dress shirts next to his little brothers’ beds, just to see what they roll onto in the morning.
Julia Ditto shares her life with her husband, six children and random menagerie of farm animals. Her view of family life is firmly rooted in the Spokane Valley. You can reach her at email@example.com.
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