What the Boys Wear

I’m looking nearly eye-to-eye with my 13-year-old (soon to be 14-year-old) Will. At his physical this summer, he was just 1 ¾” shorter than me. With his school shoes on, he’s only about ¾” shorter. Thinking he had popped up an inch overnight one morning last week, I had him back up against the door where we’ve been marking the boys’ heights since they were old enough to stand. “It’s just my shoes, Mom.” Yes, partially. He had grown another quarter inch in the last month. Liam has hit the growth spurt as well. Nearly four inches since last August. Will has more markings on the door in recent months. I don’t have a system of monthly or bi-monthly measurement. It’s more like, “Gosh, you seem taller! Go stand by the door; I’ll bring my Sharpie.” Or, “You’re pants are too short. Go stand by the door; I’ll bring my Sharpie.” And when Will’s head approached my shoulder and beyond, I’ve marched him to the door more often over the last year.

Will and Liam are not caught up in clothing styles or brands. Comfort comes first. And with both of them in school uniforms, comfort becomes a relative word during the week. Then, after school and on the weekend, the t-shirts and sweats come out. Will has few t-shirts that aren’t gymnastics related. Liam seldom dons shirts unless we are leaving the house or company is coming over. However, lately, he’s been cooking and has realized it’s good to have a shirt on to avoid splatters on bare skin. What shorts Liam wears only matters if we are hiking; then he needs pockets to carry rocks.

I’m pretty sure I could control both of their wardrobe choices by simply putting a shirt I selected on top of the pile every morning. There’s little thought given to holes or clothes that are too small. Consequently, if it has outlived its useful life in the Malcolm home, the Laundry Maven needs to take note then intercept it in the laundry cycle, or it goes directly back into the rotation.

Matching can sometimes be a challenge, but one I rarely comment on. Basically, any color t-shirt matches any color stripe on black sweat pants or shorts. I see that trend with boys around their age. If Will has a neon green shirt land jackpot with a pair of sweats having the same neon colored stripe, I might comment on how nice he looks. With his quiet response, I see a frame from a comic strip, and we are face to face. In it, I have wide open admiring eyes with a bubble that says, “Matching neon green – top and bottom!” Will has raised eyebrows with a thinking bubble saying, “T-shirt. Sweats.”

Both of the boys played a bit of golf over the summer. That required more formal attire – a belt, a collared shirt, and nice shorts. A bit of grumbling melted into acquiescence in order to chase a ball for a couple hours. It’s good for them to see there is a time and a place to dress appropriately. Though those times seem far and few between compared to 20 years ago.

When we are going out, sometimes I ask them to put on something a bit nicer. I like to see what they come up with on their own. Generally, they avoid the trousers with zippers and opt for black sweats and a collared shirt. The only suggestion I might make is a change from white to black socks, particularly if three inches of their ankles are showing.

Happy Hump Day.

Hikers/rock collectors in the distance. (Summer 2017  in Vermont)