Tuesday started off like any other weekday morning: the wife left for work and the kids were up before me making all sorts of racket. But by this point, six weeks into the school year, the next 40 minutes -- from the time I roll out of bed until we head for the bus stop -- have been perfectly choreographed: go potty, brush teeth, change your underwear, head downstairs, put on the clothes I've carefully laid out (read: grabbed from the nearest pile of possibly clean laundry), sit down at the kitchen table for breakfast, feed the dog, put on your jacket, grab your backpack, brush your hair (HAHA, yeah right), and our the door.
The eight-year-old, now in third grade, knows the routine, though it took two good years to get him to this point. The four-year-old, who goes to preschool every morning for a few hours, is also surprisingly accommodating...
...Except Tuesday was different. The night before, his mom left out some overalls for him to wear. Seemed harmless enough, especially since the eight-year-old had worn those same overalls four years before, and prior to that, they belonged to his now-14-year-old cousin.
The four-year-old was the latest stop on the hand-me-down circuit. Also: there is nothing he won't wear. Four-year-old boys, unlike girls (I've been told), do not care about fashion. It's why he'll happily leave the house in sweatpants or high waters (of course, leave it to the hipsters to bring them back in style -- bearded nerds basically begging to be beat up) or pajamas.
So I was surprised when he was adamant about not wearing the overalls.
Worth mentioning: First, unlike his older brother, the four-year-old has never worn overalls. Not sure why this is since his wardrobe is one big hand-me-down closet and overalls were a staple of the eight-year-old's fashion identity. Maybe the whole farmer chic thing went over the four-year-old's head, and the thought of wearing jeans that covered two-thirds of his body seemed like a weird one.
"Wait, you don't want to wear these? Why not, they're really cool-looking," I explained.
"I don't want people to laugh at me."
"Look," I said, "People are already laughing at you. It has nothing to do with the amount of denim you're about to put on."
Okay, I didn't say that. And I wasn't even thinking it, mostly because I was shocked that the four-year-old was worried people would make fun of him for wearing what every kid that age wears. I investigated further but it was like talking to a seasoned criminal.
"Why do you think people will laugh?"
"I don't want to wear them."
"Yeah, I understand, but can you explain why you don't like them."
"I don't want to wear them," he repeats.
His bottom lip starts to quiver. Tears are about to be shed. He puts his hands over his eyes, starts crying and says again, "I don't want wear them."
Funny story: He's gonna have to wear them. It's 39 degrees outside, so shorts are out of the question. And literally every other pair of pants he owns are in the dirty clothes. And not the preliminary pile of dirty clothes, which is the garment equivalent of the five-second food-on-the-floor rule. You can still wear them if you absolutely have to -- or if your old man is too lazy to check the dryer for clean(er) clothes.
(Go ahead, judge me all you want. I don't care. The fact that I've made it this far is a moral victory for me and a beacon of hope for other like-minded -- read: lost -- fathers who have no idea what they're doing.)
I give some thought to letting him wear his Spider-Man PJs instead but those things are so tight that they look like they're painted on. So he's stuck with the overalls. But I have an ingenuous solution. My wife found a Han Solo-looking jacket that used to belong to the eight-year-old, so I tell the four-year-old that right before Han was frozen in Carbonite he was wearing overalls and this very jacket.
He seems intrigued.
So I put it on, zip it up and say, "You can't even tell you're wearing overalls! You look fantastic!"
"Yeah, look at that!" he said, no doubt taken in by my impromptu brilliance.
Preschool went smoothly, and when I picked him up there was no mention of the overalls. That said, as soon as we get home, the four-year-old goes to the bathroom and I see him emerge in his skivvies with his overalls slung over his shoulders like he's an extra in Deliverance after a long day on set. He declares that he's done wearing overalls, presumably forever.
This is the same kid, mind you, who 24 hours later, went to school looking like this:
So yeah. The Force is strong with this one.