Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Of Fashion and Finance

Defying all reason and logic, my children have an obsession with looking as much like Dickensonian waifs and third world beggar children as they possibly can. This generally means sneaking out of the house wearing clothes with more holes than actual fabric, refusing to comb their hair, and maintaining a 1/2 inch thick layer of grubbiness behind their ears.

From what I hear, most children, when given the choice, choose the sparkling, brand-spanking new clothes Mommy just bought them, but my children thrive on marching to the beat of their own insane drummer, and they bypass the new, attractive clothing in favor of things that would be a better fit for the rag heap than a child's dresser.

Case 1: At the beginning of the school year I spent one of the most frustrating afternoons of my life buying new shoes for every single child. In Mercie's case, she ended up with three brand new pairs of shoes and a couple of hand-me-downs from her older sisters that were still in good condition. School started and day after day Mercie insisted on heading out the door in dingy white sandals that were too small, too broken, and too cold for wear. Since I believe in choosing my battles, and I also believe in natural consequences (really, how warm or comfortable could those sandals be???), yes, I was a bad mother and I let her do it.

When stopping by Mercie's class to drop something off, her teacher took me to a private corner and informed me that the school had a special fund available to help families buy shoes for their children, and if providing Mercie with shoes was a problem it would really be so very easy for them to help me out.

Yes, I was totally and completely chagrined. She was nice as could be about it, which is more than I can say for myself when we got home that night and I had a little chat with Mercie about the importance of wearing the new shoes Mommy bought for her.

Case 2: fast forward a few days. In spite of the fact that it is November, all four of my kids insist on leaving their jackets home when they go to school. Apparently keeping track of a backpack is the absolute maximum effort their brains are capable of and a coat would short circuit neurons from which they'd never recover. Grace and Mia annnounced that they weren't bringing coats. Not to be outdone, Mercie followed suit. When we got to school Grace changed her mind. Her coat was home in her room, so she asked Mercie if she could borrow Mercie's coat that was lovingly tossed on the floor of the minivan. Mercie agreed.

In the afternoon I got an email from Mercie's teacher. She told me that she was worried about Mercie being too cold at recess, and when she asked Mercie where her coat was Mercie responded that she couldn't wear it today because "today is Grace's turn to wear the coat."

Yes. She really said that.

Mercie's very nice teacher immediately went on to tell me that the school has a special fund available to help families get warm coats for their children and it really would be so easy to get Mercie a coat of her very own so she doesn't have to share.


Recently I went shopping for pants, socks, tights, and some other winter clothing items the kids needed. $300+ later I was bemoaning the money I'd never get back and predicting how many days we'd go before each child had completely ruined his or her new clothes.

"That's the worst part," I whined to a friend. "It's like throwing my money in the garbage, or setting it on fire. We'll be lucky to get one good day out of $300 worth of new clothes. It drives me crazy to part with hard-earned cash for this!"

"Well, you don't HAVE to do it, " he responded. "You know, the school has a special fund to help people like you..."


tren said...

Hahaha. When Logan or Tea try to weasle out of taking their coats to school, I INSIST that they take them even if they don't wear them, and I honestly tell them that they HAVE TO take them or people will think I'm a bad mom. If I could only get Logan to wear pants instead of shorts...

Villamor family said...

ha ha! Buying clothes for Sophia is so hard. She would rather wear the old t-shirts...not sure what the reasoning behind the pants/shorts issue. She has the same 2 dresses she likes to wear to church although she has a closet full of sparkly, beautiful dresses to chose from...that she chose for me to buy. I started to tell her if she picked it out and chooses not to wear it she has to pay me back for it(that fixed that one). Shoes? ugh. i dread shoe shopping for her. We buy her one pair of pink reef sandals in the summer and she would still be wearing them if I would let her. I have never paid that much for flipflops....but the others hurt her she only wants one pair and definitely gets her moneys worth. She is 11. And taking baths? i look forward to the day when greasy hair and smelly pits are not something my children are OK with! ha ha.

Lewis Family said...


Jen said...

This made me laugh so hard while at the same time thinking that if it were my kids I might have to take drastic measures to make them wear their clothes. ;) I'm glad you can find the humor in it and aren't you glad that there's a fund at the school should you ever need it?

Grace said...

All I can say is that the apple really and truly does not fall far from the tree ;) I wish I could tell you that it will get better sometime soon. Sorry Wendy!
Oh, and my mom wanted me to tell you she absolutely loves the stories about the kids antics. And I totally adore you for all that you do!