November 11th, 2015
Today, let’s delve into a discussion of abundance and scarcity as it relates to wardrobe economics. We’ll be pondering this age-old question: how is it possible that my children have approximately fifty-seven thousand articles of clothing (each) and yet are perpetually convinced they have nothing to wear?
Last week, I was making breakfast when I heard a tremendous wail coming from the girls’ bedroom. Convinced that some child was in mortal peril, I sprinted to investigate, only to discover Miss Mouse sprawled on the floor, bemoaning the fact that she had absolutely no pants to wear to school. None. She would be forced to go to school naked which would, of course, cause abject humiliation and lasting emotional trauma, all of which would – of course – be my fault.
I knew it had been a while since I’d done laundry and was ready to apologize profusely for the parenting oversight, when I peeked into her dresser and discovered eight pairs of pants.
She had over a week’s worth of pants to choose from, but had deemed them all unacceptable.
Hearing the commotion, KFP and Birdie jumped at the opportunity to express their solidarity with their big sister and to voice their dissatisfaction with their own apparel options. It was a long morning.
Later that evening, I rounded up every single article of children’s clothing and piled it on my bed for closer inspection. Seeing it all in one place was alarming – collectively, we could have clothed a small village. And truly, I think that’s part of the problem. Having too many choices can breed a sense of entitled discontent. My kids have so many clothes that there’s an underlying sense that there’s always another (possibly better) option out there somewhere. Surely, the perfect shirt is lurking in a laundry basket somewhere, waiting to be discovered.
But as I dug through the mountain of laundry, I also realized that their angst was at least somewhat justified. Apparently, we hadn’t sorted their clothes lately. As a parent, I often feel like I spend all my time moving clothing from one plastic tub to another and I had been avoiding the task.
Thus I found four pairs of shorts that were two sizes too small in KFP’s clothing pile. Okay, kid, I’ll give you those. I also threw away everything that was stained and/or ripped (pretty much everything Birdie wore this summer), set aside summer clothes for the next consignment sale, and bagged up a bunch of stuff for Goodwill.
Then there was a whole category of “event-related t-shirts.” You know the kind; the obligatory participant t-shirt from pee-wee soccer, charity races, summer camps, and any other activity in which your kids engage. These shirts are inevitably four sizes too big and very rarely involve sparkles, so none of the kids are all that interested. They all went into a box for future conversion to t-shirt quilts.
By the end of the organizational frenzy, I’d reduced their total wardrobe by nearly half and temporarily restored my sanity. It’s too soon to declare the experiment an unqualified success, but for the last few mornings, my kids have chosen other things to fuss about than their clothing. I call that a win.
This post originally appeared in the November 8th edition of our SmallTownUSA newspaper.