With two low-maintenance boys, I’ve been able to dress them however I want on most occasions. I wish I could say the same for my husband, but he holds firm to the belief that clothes are just there to cover his body. We joke that he has uniforms because he wears the same outfit every day changing only with the seasons. Often when he dresses the boys, I will end up redressing them to the point that Ethan has asked post-Daddy dressing, “Mommy, does this match?” Come to think of it, I end up redoing lots of Daddy deeds: reloading the dishwasher, refolding laundry, etc. Curse my OCD! Curse his genius in getting away with a lessening list of duties so that I don’t have to redo them!
I haven’t had to be one of the moms who apologetically explains that her child insisted on dressing himself as to rest assure any accusations of yo-mama-dresses-you-funny. I know, you’re thinking, “Really? Who cares? They’re kids! They just play and get dirty.” I confess to you all, I do care! Despite knowing it’s all meaningless vanity, I can’t help it. I am no fashionista by any stretch of the imagination, but I do enjoy dressing my kids. Perhaps I need a hobby, but putting them in skinny jeans and graphic tees is a little too satisfying to me. Sad, but true. It was a big step that I didn’t redress Connor last week when Mike put together an unprecedented shirt and shorts combination. I felt my superficial side simmer down and could pride myself on letting go. Then came this past weekend.
We made what seems to be a traditional trek to New Buffalo, MI, for the Memorial Day weekend. We started the trip off at the outlet mall in Michigan City with the Crocs store as a destination point. Last year, the boys both chose brown ones. Those were the glory days of yore apparently. When we were perusing the wall of shoes this year, I kept towards the far left side that had the black, brown, navy, and blue options. Not Ethan. He was drawn like a magnet to the BRIGHT yellow ones. Immediately they captured his heart. I tried to steer him towards my end. He was firmly planted on his end, and those were definitely on the extreme opposite side of the color spectrum. Connor at least was somewhat in the middle eyeing the green ones. Ethan was not moved by my persuasive speech on the versatility of any color but that blinding yellow. He had them on his feet admiring them with love. In fact, another boy came by and seemed equally enamored. I heard him tell his mother that he wanted yellow while he gazed admiringly at Ethan’s modeling feet. His mother had also camped out on my side of the rainbow. He had no chance. His mother loved him too much.
I, on the other hand, was remembering our last shoe-shopping in the fall. We were getting the boys new Converse and again Ethan wanted the brightest hue, this time red. I preferred black and managed to convince him to let go of his affinity for fashion flair. I suppose a healthy dose of mom guilt weakened my resolve. Plus the shoes were already glued to Ethan’s feet and owned the part of his heart not taken by Legos, dinosaurs, books, squeezable yogurt, and family (in that order). Ethan’s newest pick of neon yellow made those red Chucks seem faded and dull. Put on your sunglasses and then see what I mean:
We could spot him a mile away. The color combined with the roomy fit of Crocs made him ready for the circus. I spent the next few hours looking around for Bozo the Clown, Ronald McDonald or Sponge Bob to jump out and demand their shoes back. Besides, looking out for those characters was safer than looking directly at the shoes without proper UVA/UVB protection. OUCH. It hurt both my eyes and what little fashion-sense pride I had.
He definitely stood out and was the recipient of random comments. Surprisingly, they were all complimentary. One was at the winery where a nice lady said she thought they were cool and told Ethan she liked them. Of course, she probably had several tastings and her judgement clouded by her buzz. Seeing how most people walk around sober, I did wonder for a second if someone was going to call DCFS on me for allowing my child to wear such loud footwear. At the least, I should have handed out those glasses made for looking at solar eclipses.
After the initial shock wore off and I could look at them without squinting, I got over my silly self and came to acceptance. I hoped that giving him this liberty despite my protestations would foster a sense of independence and the enjoyment of not living under a control-freak mother all the time. I found myself repeating, “Who cares? They’re just kids. It’s just shoes!”
I told my close girlfriend this story. After listening to my ranting, she said, “If it makes you feel any better, I’ve been looking for yellow shoes, too. Ethan is actually on cue with the fashion trends.” WHAT?!?! This chic friend is the most reliable source for vogue style that I have. She is always the one wearing things that I could never wear at the time because I am not that cutting edge. However, it always happens that two years later, I end up with those same items in my closet because it takes the rest of the world and myself that long to catch up to her. It was that way with pointy shoes, leggings, skinny jeans, ballet flats, you-name-it. So it was no small thing to hear her say that. Watch out, world, Ethan Beckett is your new source for fads. I expect to see you all donning your bright yellow shoes in a year or two when it’s all the rage. In the meantime, stock up on protective eye wear. Trust me, you’ll need it.