Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Bucking Tradition

I did NOT take my kids school-clothes shopping this year.

That's right. I didn't do it. Did not pack us all off to the nearest mall and spend enormous amounts of money so that they would have just the "right" outfit for the first days of school and would be all up-to-the-minute on the current fashion trends.

I did buy new sneakers. Mark's were holding together by sheer willpower, and Kira had outgrown hers. For the rest: each of those kids has more clothes than anyone I know. And neither one of them takes care of them. I have grown beyond tired and frustrated and furious at seeing clean clothes thrown all over their rooms (and the hallway...and the closet), dirty clothes mixed in with clean clothes, clean clothes rewashed because they figured it was easier to just throw it all in the laundry than actually put things in drawers.

It's not like I ask a lot of them. First off, both of them are perfectly capable of doing their own laundry if they so chose. I don't even demand that. I wash their clothes, fold them, separate them into categories (shirts, pants, socks, underwear, etc), and then just ask them to take their clothes up and put them away. Sometimes, if I'm feeling particularly like Becky Home-Ecky, I will bring their clothes up into their bedroom and lay them out on the bed in the categories. At that point all the kid has to do is pick up a pile, walk over to a bureau, open a drawer, and PUT THE CLOTHES IN.

Instead, I'll go in and find all the clothes heaped on the floor all together because they needed to get in the bed to go to sleep. So I told them, several weeks ago: I'm not buying any new clothes until you take care of your old clothes. This includes picking ALL of them up off the floor, sorting out clothes that you don't wear or don't fit, and putting the rest away. And until then, not an iota of unnecessary clothing.

Kira has had a particularly hard time comprehending this. She has had repeated meltdowns because I actually required her to not be a complete pig. She has ignored my repeated reminders that we weren't going school shopping until she had done the above.Then she decided she would GUILT me into buying her new clothes. I heard about the new clothes she got at her father's house. I heard about how she would be the only one without new clothes. I heard about how EVERYONE would make fun of her for having to wear old clothes. I heard about how she's had to wear the same clothes for the last two or three YEARS (ahem: bullshit. bull. fucking. shit.). I heard about how mean I was, how I didn't care about her, etc etc.

She wrote and mailed a letter to one of her best friends complaining about it. She even called my MOTHER (who agreed with me and told Kira so. Kira was not impressed that Gram was not on her side).

Unbelievable meltdown the last day I would have the kids before they went with their dad for the remainder of vacation (they would be with me Sunday night and Monday, so they went on Friday evening with X).

Now, I like buying clothes for the kids. I like having them be fashionable. I love seeing what Kira does with the combinations. Our family finances growing up didn't allow for fashion, and yes, I overcompensate for that.

But I also remember how much my sister and I appreciated new clothes, and how rare it was that we got them. We went on specific shopping trips to get clothes when we needed new ones. It wasn't a constant "oh, look at the cute thing I picked up for you today" event. (This is not to say that we were complete ragamuffins. But fashionable clothes was not a financial priority in the house.)

So, as hard as it was for ME to not take Kira out and get her an adorable little black sharkbite vest and some of the new superskinny jeans and a plaid skirt with a white button-down and tie and oh the most ADORABLE sweater-vest etc etc etc, I held strong.

And you know what? She didn't die. She actually took a look at the clothes she has, found a skirt she's had for a year (A YEAR) that she never once had worn to school, paired it with a v-neck t-shirt that looks like a billion other v-neck t-shirts, put on her new sneakers, looked adorable, and loved her outfit.

Now she's looking at what else she has that people haven't seen. Unsurprisingly, there's a lot. Especially considering that I have gotten her new things periodically in the spring and early summer. Brand stuff, even (Justice, her faaaaaaaavorite store, that is too pricey even on sale, but which you can often find at TJMaxx, and sometimes even on clearance there...guess where she got a cool burnout t-shirt and multicolored zipup this summer?)

Unsurprisingly, Mark didn't care that I wasn't taking him school shopping. He wore a white polo and jeans his first day (today). Of course, guys do have it easier than girls, but even still, he was perfectly aware that he has plenty of stuff that fits & looks good, and that's all he needed.

So, I'm continuing to hold out: no new clothes until the current ones are cared for properly. I'm kinda curious how long until Kira caves. She thinks she's more stubborn than I am.

Oh, so wrong. mk
I will never admit that you are right Mom, I had plenty to wear.

Look at these rags you force me to wear...I look hideous. Turn away your eyes!
Yeah, Mom, I'm rockin' the jean-and-polo thing.
Thank you, thank you, for not spending hundred$ you don't have so I could have clothes that look exactly the same as this. Just newer.

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