Monday, September 13, 2010

He Wants to be Cool

Yup, it happened this morning. Noah has finally asked to be "cool". I knew this day would come sooner or later. I think I need to be grateful that we made it into third grade before it came.

I have always been pretty picky about what the kids wear. Many people think overly picky. When Noah was in kindergarten, I insisted on him wearing "nice" clothes to school, which usually means shirts with collars (polo-ish).

Then, somewhere around the first grade year, the protests began, no longer willing to wear collar shirts every day. I gave in and got him some more regular type shirts. But I have stuck to my opinions on "attitude" shirts and "character" shirts. As the boys started asking for shirts with their favorite characters, I relented a little bit more, allowing them to wear them on the weekends or other non-school days.

But I have still stuck to the no character shirt rule for school.

Now, I must stop to say that this rule is much easier for girls than for boys. Girls have the options of flowers and designs without having to go straight to charcters. Plus, girl characters run along the lines of princesses. With boys, when you subtract attitude and characters, you
are pretty much left with solid colors and stripes. I don't like it, but it is the way of things. So the boys have closets full of shirts with strpes on them.

And sure enough, this morning, Noah came out for breakfast with a very unhappy look on his face. "Mommy, it's not fair that I have to wear stripes every day. Everyone else has cool shirts with words and characters."

The problem is, he's right. It really isn't fair. But at the same time, I believe that how the world sees you is directly affected by what you're wearing, especially when you're a school age boy. So I am conflicted. I really don't like the idea of him wearing characters to school. I also refuse to allow the attitude shirts. You know, the ones that say things like "I'm not deaf, I'm ignoring you" That kind of stuff. But if that's what everyone else is wearing, don't I owe it to him to find a way for him to blend in a little without compromising my beliefs.

So I told him I would spend the day trying to think of a compromise. After asking what the word meant, he seemed to be a little appeased. Putting aside my beliefs, the money for school clothes shopping is gone and I can't afford to go buy a new wardrobe for the child. But at the same time, I grew up with not only the most un-cool wardrobe possible, but also with a mom who called me a nerd pretty much every day because all I wore were jeans and t shirts.

I still am a nerd, and that's okay. But I really do want to do better for my kids. Where is the happy medium between spending huge dollars for a shirt just because it has a certain brand name on it and wearing the same stripes every day? I wonder if I need to take a trip to wander the mall today just to see what else is out there that I may have missed, even if I can't afford to buy that stuff today.

Yeah, I knew this day was coming. And now that it's here, I have to deal with it. I guess we all have to find where pop culture and personal beliefs meet and decide how far we're willing to let that line slide in one direction of the other.


Deb - Mom of 3 Girls said...

To be honest, I haven't really paid that much attention to what boys are usually wearing. I totally agree about the 'attitude' type shirts though - I hate them for girls too, the ones that say 'Total Diva' or such on them. We have a few the girls have gotten as hand-me-downs from others, but I generally don't buy them, or at least let the girls wear them in public. It's easier in some ways, you're right - there are flowers, butterflies and such that they can wear on their clothes. But the styles... Ugh, I'm really not liking a lot of the current girls' styles. Thankfully I've been able to find decent clothes that are somewhat trendy - enough so the girls (hopefully) don't stand out. I know that's going to get harder as they get older though. It's already really hard to find appropriate clothes for Abby - I'm extremely thankful that I buy a lot of used stuff from our neighbors, whose daughters are very modest too.

Maybe give Once Upon a Child a try for less expensive stuff that might help Noah fit in better? I can't really think of anything else though, other than clearance and garage sales, but we're pretty much getting out of the season for both of those. Good luck!!

Jana said...

I also have an 8 yr old boy, and I am right there w/ you on the no 'attitude' tees or cartoon type character shirts for school. But I have found a lot of options (beyond solids and stripes) that I don't think qualify as the above that he does like to wear and seems to think are cool. I often get 'graphic' or 'logo' tees/hoodies from stores like Old Navy, Gap Outlet, Kohls, Target, or Childrens Place - nothing with rude phrases, but usually pictures of sports themes, skateboards, cool vehicles, or brand logos. My son actually opts to wear polos a couple times a week, but prefers ones with ones with embellishment or some sort of extra design on them.
I think if you can pick up 3 or 4 shirts that he really likes he will be fine wearing the other ones the rest of the time. Maybe shop w/ him at the mall to see what he likes, helping him find compromise type items that you can both agree on, get him one reasonably priced thing to show you care/understand, and then try and find the rest at consignment stores/sales (there are some great Mom2Mom and church sales coming up in the next few wks around GR).

Kila said...

I went through these same stages with my boys! I think around 3rd grade was when I gave in, but I still hold them to higher standards than what most of their classmates wear. None of the "attitude" T-shirts. I'm really not a fan of T-shirts.

However, a boy's gotta have a Pokemon shirt, or at least a cool name brand, to get any respect! ;) My youngest, especially, flat out refused to wear any more "plain" shirts to school. He said it made him feel like a dork. Fortunately, boys are much less particular, and cheaper to shop for, than girls!

bethn said...

I like that the boys get lots of shirts from the lake (end of year clearance) and our school sells t-shirts. They seem to really like wearing them and most of them say Lakeside,Oh or some variation. I've also been able to find some with fish or sports related ideas at Target. I'm with you on the smart mouth stuff, but with a little searching I can usually find something that is still "cool", but that isn't inappropriate. Oh, and Old Navy usually has some that work, and they should be on clearance right now since winter is coming.