Wardrobe Wars

Column Day! Today I tackle one of the most unexpectedly frustrating aspects of being a parent: getting your kids dressed.

The Chronicle Herald went through a fancy redesign this weekend that looks very nice, but they seemed to have lost a bunch of content along the way, including my column.  It ran in today’s print edition but I can’t find it anywhere on their website.  I’ve copied the full version below, though, after the jump. Enjoy.

Clothing is highly overrated

Despite the recent run of mild weather, I’m bracing myself for the fact that chilly days are coming. And that’s not good.

As a parent I’ve found a new reason to detest the cold: It requires more clothes. And more clothes mean more work. Dressing children is no easy feat. You learn this during your first 2 a.m. diaper change, as you groggily try to snap up those evil little dome buttons on your baby’s sleeper while she flails and screams.

It gets tougher once they’re mobile. The General currently finds it hilarious to run and hide as soon as I get his PJs off. The kid is wiry and decep­tively strong for a two-year­old. Dressing him is like wres­tling a small alligator.

Like many kids, he’d rather go without clothes. As he streaked across the kitchen last week, yelling his face off, my wife noted that “he seems to have extra energy when he’s naked.”

“Maybe he draws his power from the sun,” I replied. “Like Superman.”

You’d think life would grow easier once your kids can dress themselves, but that’s when they develop their own weird fashion sense. Ironically enough, in a household with three boys and a girl, our daughter is the least neurotic about her wardrobe.

The Whirlwind had a phase where he intentionally wore everything backwards. Over the course of a day he some­times manages to lose his underwear.

Meanwhile, the Mastermind has all kinds of issues with clothes. He’s highly sensitive to textures, and socks in par­ticular make him nuts. He’ll only wear two pairs: his base­ball socks, which come past his knees, and a set of purple striped socks that hardly match anything he owns.

But once he finds a pair he likes, he’d rather not take them off. Last week I had to pass a Sock Edict: “They go in the hamper after two days or when you smell like feet, whichever comes first.”

He also has a definitive style. We once had an epic battle over red sweatpants. I wanted him to look halfway presentable, and his pants were full of holes. I told him to change and he lost his mind.

“But I have a plan!” he screamed. “I have to dress all in red so I can be camouflaged against red objects.”

I put my foot down but he refused to shed the pants. Ten minutes and many tears and threats later, we were at an impasse. Finally I tried a differ­ent tactic.

“Look around,” I said. “How many red objects do you see? Red’s not a very good camou­flage colour.”

I fished a grey wool hoodie and a pair of dark corduroys out of his dresser. “Grey is much better for ninjas. You can hide in the shadows.”

Amazingly, he bought it and changed his clothes. Score one for Dad.

But I’ve since wised up and accepted that clothing belongs in the Not a Big Deal category. My kids’ idiosyncrasies are worth more than my own sense of dig­nity.

So it happens that the Whirl­wind sometimes goes to church wearing 3D glasses and a cape.

And so two weeks ago on family picture day, my wife and I just shrugged when the Master­mind said, “Can I spike my hair so I look like a mad genius? That’s my usual state anyway.”

Sure, we said. Why alter real­ity for a photo?

We ended up with quite the portrait. The General looks terri­fied, the Princess is indifferent, and the older boys appear to posing for the poster of Spy Kids 5.

But everyone is facing the same direction, nobody’s crying, and yes, we’re all wearing clothes.

You celebrate the small victo­ries.

Chad Lucas and his wife are busy parents of four children under the age of seven. Follow them at thelu­casadventures. wordpress. com

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One response to “Wardrobe Wars

  1. Awesome!
    I love reading your articles!
    It’s so refreshing to know we’re not alone in the battlefield!
    I have a 3.5 year old who is a blend of the “Mastermind & Whirlwind”…Lord help me! 🙂

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