When Pants Plans Go Awry

Daryl wasn’t the only Bright Spots household member with big sartorial plans for the first day of school. And while his outfit planning made for a great comedy display, the other was more tragedy.

Hal eagerly exited bed on the first day of school and threw on one of his favorite T-shirts (chosen, incidentally, to brag about his big brother going to DI Global Finals this year – Daryl has no idea how much his little brother looks up to him) plus the running pants with the bright orange stripes down the sides and his new “sock style” sneakers. As he hurried past me, I stopped him. “Whoa, come here – step into the light.”

I then proceeded to point out to him that in addition to the sizable hole in one knee, the pants were noticeably too short for him. This is a common problem for my fourth grade beanpole who has easily topped five foot but isn’t any bigger around than his small classmates. Pants are almost always too short – either that, or way too wide around the waist.

“Why don’t you put on some jeans instead?” I asked.

He returned a few minutes later wearing jeans and a very sour expression. “It looks awful!” he declared as he flopped onto my bed. I glanced at his sister and shrugged. He looked like a little boy wearing jeans, a T-shirt, and sneakers – the classic American kid.

“It looks fine,” I said. “What’s wrong with it?”

He gestured to his legs and feet with exaggerated disgust and with the general air that I must be stupid if I can’t see it. “They don’t look right with these shoes!” he cried before throwing himself back on the bed.

“What’s wrong with the jeans?” asked Jane. “They look fine.”

More rapid, frustrated gesturing before he sputtered, “They are too THICK!”

“Too think?” I asked, confused. “They are jeans. They are the thickness of jeans. It doesn’t look bad.”

“No! No! They are too THICK!!”

He was rapidly losing control so I headed to his room to look for alternatives while his sister tried to discern what he meant. Eventually she got out of him that “thick” really meant “wide.” He didn’t like the straight-leg jeans, preferring the tapered style of sweats he usually wears.

“So you want some skinny jeans?” she asked. I cringed as she said that, already knowing the answer.

“No!! I don’t like skinny jeans! They hurt behind my knees when I sit down!”

I called him in to his room to try on some other running pants I found. “I’m concerned they are too short like the others,” I said. “But if you want to try them, here.”

He tried them on and sure enough, they were too short. He insisted they were fine.

“Honey,” I tried. “I don’t want the other kids to make fun of you for wearing pants that are too short. That’s like one of the big things that gets pointed out. They really are too short. Let’s try to find something else.”

“Too short? Too short? Why would Mimi buy me pants if they are too short??!!”

“Well, they probably weren’t too short when she bought them.”

“No, I mean Mimi bought me two pairs of these. Two. Why would she buy two different sizes?”

“I don’t understand what you mean.”

“The others aren’t too short. Why would these be too short? Huh?!”

“I don’t know. Maybe those are too short too…”

“NO!! They aren’t!”

“Ok,” I soothed, as I looked in the hamper. Extracting the pair he had worn the day before, I continued, “Are these the ones that fit?”

“Yes.”

“Ok, well, these are 14-16’s. The ones you are wearing are 10-12’s – no wonder they are too short.”

After a discussion on whether the pair from the hamper were too dirty – me explaining that he wore them to church and then just around the house, he’d be fine – he changed into his fourth pair of pants for the morning and the crisis was resolved. Such drama on the first day of school!

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Daryl Goes to High School

Daryl knew exactly what he wanted to wear his first day of high school. He was animated telling me about it, dropping into his faux hip-hop mannerisms he uses when he’s talking about how cool he is. He tends to lean to one side, drop his shoulder, and put his hands in front of him, gesturing like a rapper, one side of his mouth turned up in a knowing smirk, his eyes barely open, head nodding, and an occasional smack of the lips.

“I got it all planned out,” he said. “Imma gonna wear my…{smack} Adidas sweatpants and my… {smack} Adidas shoes and then my Adidas sweatshirt… yeahhhhh…” Slow, ‘cool’ nods of the head as he tilts back and slightly to one side.

“You are going to wear a sweatshirt. On August 20th. In Texas,” I replied.

“Yeahhh….it’s gonna be gucci maaaann…”

“You are going to look stupid. The upperclassmen are going to look at you and think, ‘look at that idiot wearing a sweatshirt when it’s a hundred degrees outside.”

“Nah, man. I’m gonna be killing it. See, Imma gonna be all Adidas. Imma even gonna wear my Adidas underwear.”

“How is anyone going to know you are wearing Adidas underwear if you are wearing a sweatshirt?”

“Easy… see… ya just pull your pants down a little like this…” He pulled one side of his pants down a few inches past his hips to reveal the waistband of his underwear. “Yeahhhh…” More head nods and arm gestures as he strutted across the room in front of me.

“Still, no one is going to see your underwear if you are wearing a sweatshirt, even if you pull your pants down a little,” I said.

“No, mama, you see, it’s like this. See, ya juss… ya juss… lift your shirt up like this see? You walk around, you just kinda lift it and go, ‘what’s up bruh? Yeah… iss aright man…’.” He kind of flopped his arms up under the bottom of his shirt and held his arms like he was greating his buddies from the hood or something, nodding and walking like he had a limp.

I shook my head.

“You are going to look like an idiot if you walk around like that.”

“Nah, man, I coo bro…” he said, pulling the other side of his pants down so he had that awful street look where his pants are barely hanging on and his underwear is almost fully revealed. I knew he was tweaking me then.

“You gonna wear Adidas socks to complete the look?” I asked.

“Oh, hecks no. I’m a Nike man! I be wearing my Nike socks! What you talkin’ about?”

Yes, he really said that. Yes he did. After describing his four piece Adidas outfit he was proud to wear on the first day, he declared himself a Nike man and thought I was crazy to suggest he wear anything other than Nike socks.

Kids are crazy, but I think teenage boys may take the cake.

And guess what? First day of school? He wore a T-shirt that he has had for at least two years. Not Adidas, not Nike.

“What about the Adidas sweatshirt?” I asked.

“Ahh… it’s in the hamper.”

“You gonna wear it anyway?”

“Nah. It’s dirty.”

He had a day and a half to wash that sweatshirt after announcing his perfect first day of school attire. I guess the desire to look his imagined best doesn’t go deep enough to override general teenage laziness, forgetfulness, and that overwhelming need to get as much Fortnite in as possible before summer ends.

Fine by me. Saved me all the “Sweatshirt? Really? Is that boy crazy?” questions I would have gotten when I shared the first-day-of-school pictures on Facebook.

Dressing for the Dance

Daryl’s middle school has an end-of-year dance. A couple of days before the dance this year, he asked a girl at school to be his girlfriend. And then he asked her to the dance. The night before the dance, Daryl was rummaging through his clothing, looking for something to wear.

“Do you know where my Easter clothes are?” he asked me.

“I thought you hated your Easter clothes.”

“I do, but it’s a Hawaiian themed dance and we are supposed to wear Hawaiian shirts or bright colored clothes.”

His Easter clothes certainly would fit the bill. He didn’t want to go with me when I shopped for Easter clothing, telling me instead to “just pick something out for me. I don’t care.”

He cared once I got home. I had purchased a pair of bright turquoise blue shorts on clearance and a sorta-bright pastel yellow shirt. He was horrified! But now? Now he was looking for those hideous clothes. But they weren’t even the best choice he had.

“You should wear your Hawaiian shirt,” I said, pulling a dark blue and white flowered shirt out of his closet. A much more sartorially accomplished friend of Jane’s had handed it down to Daryl a couple of years earlier and Daryl had never worn it.

“I’m not wearing that.” He said it in his serious, no-nonsense voice, which I groaned at and then ignored.

“Seriously, Daryl, that shirt is perfect. It’s a Hawaiian dance and this is a Hawaiian shirt. It doesn’t get any better than that. Here, try it on.” I slipped it off the hanger and handed it to him.

He tried it on. I could tell it was right on the edge of being too small for him but he looked good and I said so. He headed to our bathroom to check it out and I followed. As soon as he could see himself in the mirror, he wrinkled up his nose in disgust and said, “No way!”

“Oh, come on!” I tried. But, no, the Hawaiian shirt would not be worn. He found his Easter clothes soon thereafter and tried to get me to iron them. I pointed out that the Hawaiian shirt didn’t need to be ironed. He pleaded. I told him I was exhausted (I was) and that he could iron them himself. He said he didn’t know how. I said it was a good time to learn. He didn’t iron them but also didn’t switch to the Hawaiian shirt.

The next day, on the drive home from work, I thought about the clothes that still needed to be ironed. Since I was in the car with the bluetooth connection to my phone, I called.

“Get the ironing board and iron out so we can iron those clothes as soon as I get home,” I said.

“Oh, I don’t need to. I took care of it.”

“Really?” I asked in shock. “You ironed your clothes?” He must really like this girl, I thought to myself.

“No,” he said, “I’m not wearing those.” And this is where it got really good. I mean, really, really good.

“I’m wearing the Hawaiian shirt.”

My eyes went as big as saucers.

“Sally wants to match and she’s wearing blue so I’m going to wear that.”

A belly laugh began to work its way up to my throat. I forcefully shoved it back down and in the most neutral voice I could muster, said, “That’s wonderful dear. I’m glad you worked it out. I love you.” At this point, I was in severe danger of making it obvious I was laughing at the situation. “Good-bye,” I said, reaching quickly for the little red “hang up” button on my console.

And then I laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed. Tears rolled down my face. Mom couldn’t have threatened or rewarded him enough to get him to walk among his peers in that shirt. But a pretty young girl just had to say she wanted to match.

The hilarity continued when I got home and a hyper thirteen year old boy showed me how he had shaved. He fixed his hair (again and then again). He brushed his teeth. He took the toothpaste with him to freshen up after dinner. He checked his hair in the car’s mirror. In short, he acted like a completely different boy than I had been living with all this time.

The Case of the Cursed Pajamas

I was in Hal’s room tonight as he got ready for bed. It is supposed to be very cold so I recommended he wear his fuzzy, footed monster pajamas. He agreed. Last night, he had worn a hand-me-down pair from his cousin but when I went in to wake him this morning, he had only been wearing his underwear.

“Where are your pajamas?” I had asked. “It’s way too cold to be sleeping without pajamas right now.”

He had shrugged me off, saying he felt like sleeping that way. All of my kids have strange notions on sleeping attire, so I thought nothing of it.

Back to this evening. As he struggled out of his shirt and I located his fuzzy, footed monster pajamas, he began to speak in a very nonchalant voice, as if what he had to say was of only middling importance to him.

“I am waiting for that pair of tajamas to dry. They have water on them.”

“What pair of pajamas? Why do they have water on them?”

I turned to where he pointed and saw the pajamas that he had been wearing the night before, tangled up with a pair of underwear, resting on a pile of books at the foot of his bed.

As I reached toward them, I could tell that they were not wet because of water.

“Hal! You peed in these pajamas! And you’ve let them sit on these books all day! Look,” I said as I lifted the top book, “This one is ruined. Come on, you need to carry these clothes. Let’s go.”

“NOOOOOoooo!!!! I don’t want to lose these tajamas! NOOOooo!” he cried.

Suddenly, everything fell into place. He thought we were headed to the trash can, not the washing machine. When he asked to wear the hand-me-downs the night before, I had said, jokingly, but maybe it was too subtle for a four year old, “Ok, but if you pee in them again, we are going to have to get rid of them because they are bad luck.”

I said that because he first wore them at Mimi’s house and had an accident that night. We washed them and as soon as they were folded, he wore them again. And peed in them again. Prior to last night, he had had two accidents in nearly a month and both times had been while wearing this cursed pair of hand-me-down pajamas.

Make that three accidents and no dry nights with these pajamas. I have become the opposite of a baseball player who refuses to change his “game winning” socks. I do not trust these pajamas. I think they may encounter an accident while they are in the washing machine. These things happen. Our washer has been known to eat things.

A Fairly Typical School Day Morning

My morning started at 5:00 with a young fussy boy walking into my room, tearfully announcing, “I don’t like the storm snoring”, and then crawling into my arms, most likely with the hope of staying in our bed.

It didn’t make sense. For one, it wasn’t storming outside. Not at all. I comforted and reassured him and then carried him back to his room. His silent room. I still have no idea what noise prompted him to think that an imaginary storm was snoring.

I was next awakened at 6:15 by an alarm going off across the hall. I never know whether Daryl will pop right up and take his shower or wait for me to come rouse him, then arguing with me on whether it’s his day to take a shower. Today was a good day; he rushed to get ahead of his sister in the shower.

Hal, as usual, was not going to get up without encouragement. So I entered his room with a cheery voice and gently pulled his blanket off him. He smiled and I rubbed his belly while he stretched.

Suddenly, he cried out, “I am peeing in my tajamas again!”

What?! Sure enough, he had, right then, fully awake, wet his bed. It was past time to enlist additional parental support. I still needed to take my shower, after all. I flipped the light on in our room, and Daddy joined the fun while I got in the shower.

Once dressed, I asked him if he was picking up the kids from school. He usually does but he was firing the kiln and sometimes that changes things. When he answered in the affirmative, I explained that that was good because “if you want me to pick them up on kiln firing days, you have to let me know ahead of time so I can put in extra time earlier in the week.”

Something got missed in the communication. He looked at me like I was from Mars. I gave him a similar look in return. We had one of those “what’s wrong with you”, “nothing, what’s wrong with you” kind of spousal conversations before I went around the corner to brush my teeth, feeling agitated by the interaction.

Enter Jane, just slightly behind schedule. She announced “It’s 7:10 and I’m ready to go!” I knew that I could now expect regular updates every minute until Daddy and the kids were out the door. She would soon announce “It’s 7:11 and I’m ready to go!”

This time, she further muttered under her breath, “It’s going to be 7:20 again before we get out of here. Just like always.”

Holding my toothbrush, I walked back into the room to tell her, “You know, your brother wet his bed which forced him to take an unplanned shower. That’s going to run you guys behind. Crazy enough, you will still get to school on time if you leave at 7:20, so I wouldn’t sweat it.”

I got an exasperated teenager reply that fed my earlier agitation. This resulted in my muttering my own retort, “Wow, looks like I’m good at crossing people this morning. Can’t seem to make anyone happy.”

Right then, Hal came up the hall, wearing a shirt that was too small, needed to be ironed, and didn’t match his pants. I told him he needed to change shirts and reached forward to help him take it off. The reaction was predictable. He screamed and tried to jerk it back down.

“Honey, it’s too small. Go pick another one.” He headed down the hall shirtless and wailing that he wanted to wear that one. I called after him, “You have 400 other shirts. Pick another one that you love dearly and put it on.”

My husband began to laugh in the living room. Then I heard him address the older two, “Oh, come on. You know you want to laugh. That was funny. Both of you sitting there trying to act like you aren’t listening. Trying to fight back the urge to laugh. One of you sulking because we haven’t left yet.”

Then he called out to me, teasing, “You trying to cross everyone in the family today? Did you get Hal too?”

“I sure did! That just leaves Daryl. Hey, Daryl, what can I do to upset you this morning? Come on, give me something!”

Shortly after that, we decided that I could drop Hal off at the preschool so that Jane wouldn’t have an aneurysm. This, of course, caused Hal to have one because he wanted to ride with Daddy.

Still, I got him to the bathroom to brush his teeth, but then accidentally slipped the brush out of his mouth, leaving a path of toothpaste suds on his cheek. He seemed to find that funny so then I brushed his face: both cheeks and upper lip, commenting the whole time about how messy I was.

Crisis was averted and we were able to enjoy our trip into town. I don’t usually take any of the kids to school. Hal doesn’t usually wet his bed. My husband and I don’t usually bicker, even mildly. But there is always something going on. Hal can be relied on to pick something inappropriate to wear. You can count on Jane to get anxious about leaving on time. Then you can add in some sort of unexpected drama, just to keep it interesting. Yes, it was definitely a typical school day morning at our house.