“Mu-um, I’m not wearing them, they make me look like a total dork!”
The new shorts I had bought him, from a – rather expensive – online retailer, which has perfect images of smiley kids doing fun stuff (okay, it was Boden), were thrown on the bedroom floor in disgust.
I almost wept. Had it come to this? And so soon! He was not even a teenager yet, for God’s sake, yet here he was having a full-on fashion crisis.
Mothers of girls would probably be used to this stroppy pre-teen behaviour, refusing to wear what their parents had chosen, I reasoned, but as a mother of boys, this was new to me. I felt a bit rejected, to be honest.
Until now, my eldest had shown little interest in clothes, beyond getting up and pulling on something or other in the morning, not always clean, so that he could either build something out of Lego, paint a model figure, bounce on the trampoline, shoot Nerf bullets at his kid brother or slump in front of a computer game.
But now, blushing slightly and stumbling for the right words, he was telling me in no uncertain terms that my fashion choices would no longer do.
Apart from the practicalities of having spent the best part of twenty quid on a pair of shorts – I know, I know, but they looked SO nice – I could see where he was coming from. I was transported back more decades more than I care to remember to my 12th year, when my Mum gave me twenty quid and let me loose in TopShop for the first time. The thrill of it! Choosing T-shirts for myself, things I wanted to wear, that my mates were wearing too.
Then I remembered the time before he was born, all the excitement of choosing his babygros and little outfits for him, the PFB – the precious first born – washing them, ironing them and keeping them in a drawer in the bedroom, ready for his arrival, sneaking a peek and holding them up and imagining him in them.
Once he arrived, of course, all the delightful little pristine white suits were spattered with baby gunk and I was so knackered I couldn’t have cared less what he was dressed in, as long as I got some sleep.
But then came the thrill of seeing him going up sizes – you know, the bit when they go from newborn, to the next size up; one to three months, to six months and all that. The little funky outfits, the sunhats which you force them to wear for about three seconds before they chuck them out of the pram; the baby shoes, the first walkers, the first trainers. Crocs; so many pairs, in different colours each year and going up a size each time. School shoes – trashed within an inch of their life by the end of the first week. Wellies, splodging in puddles and stuck in the mud. Coats – lost, mostly, at school.
I remembered a whole childhood of clothes I had chosen for him but now it was time for him to start choosing his own.
We reached an agreement of sorts. He could buy some new stuff but he would still have to wear those dorky shorts at some point and he would have to finish his homework and maybe do a few chores, like feed his guinea pigs and help out around the house.
So he went online and picked out a couple of T-shirts and I found myself getting emotional, not least because the first thing he bought was made of polyester with a massive logo on it and was covered in camouflage. I think I may have a teenager in the house sooner than I had imagined…