“What exactly are broken pants?” I asked.
“You know,” he said in a condescending tone. “Broken pants. The ones with the holes in the knees.”
“Oh,” I said feigning understanding. “Now I understand.”
“Good,” he said. “So why can’t I wear them?”
“Because you’re not homeless,” I said.
“But daddy,” he said. “I want to dress cool like my friends.”
And so the desire to fit in begins. I was hoping that I wouldn’t have to deal with this issue until he was a teenager. I guess today’s kids really do grow up faster.
By his own admission, N is handsome and cool. His classmates adore him and want to emulate him. However, he doesn’t realize the influence that he has because he is too busy trying to be like everyone else.
I believe that N is a pretty snazzy dresser. Of course, I’m biased because I’m the one who takes him clothes shopping. I released my wife, KayEm, of this duty because of her propensity to buy him “cute” clothes, and by cute I mean dorky. She also likes to dress both of our sons alike even though they aren’t twins. For the boys’ sakes, I had to intervene.
My goal is to buy N clothes that are stylish, durable, and enduring (after all, his younger brother has to wear them too). That mean no sagging pants, no T-shirts with inappropriate messages, and no high-priced designer clothes.
I try to be flexible during our shopping trips. Sometimes I make the decision on what to buy. Other times I give him a choice. Keep in mind that it is a controlled choice. He can select one item from the three I have chosen.
Periodically, I give him free reign to choose whatever he wants. But before he makes his selections, I give him the following speech:
“Always remember that you are representing our family when you go out in public. You make an impression by what you wear, what you say, and how you behave.”
Of course, he always chooses items with licensed characters (which I hate) or clothes with skulls and crossbones (which my wife hates).
Sure, I’d love for him to wear sweater vests, khakis and button down shirts or even jeans with loafers and a blazer, but I realize that he has to develop his own sense of style the allows him to fit in with his peers even if it does include broken pants.