After fourteen years on this earth, The Little Prince has decided to wear shorts.
When he was a baby I could dress him in whatever I wanted, but as soon as he was able to stomp his little foot and open the dresser drawer by himself, he declared a moratorium on shorts. In the grand scheme of things this non-shorts stance was not a problem. As long as he wore something on the bottom part of his torso I was happy.
In the mom scheme of things this non-shorts stance was a problem. You see, I am the therMOMeter. If I am cold, the children should put on sweatshirts. If I am hot, they should wear shorts.
They, however, have a different view of things. I carry a sweatshirt with me on even the hottest, most humid days Iowa can conjure up in July and August. They will consent to putting a sweatshirt in the car when we head out in the middle of a January blizzard.
So when The Little Prince announced he wanted to wear shorts, I nearly tore the door off the hinges in my haste to get him to the mall before he changed his mind. We returned victorious after a no-frills, fast break offense shopping trip: one store, two shoppers, three pairs of shorts.
I was not quite as excited a week later when he announced that he needed more shorts because two of the three pair (already de-tagged and washed) didn't fit.
I swear he tried them all on at the store, but I was so thrilled he was even considering shorts that I might have been hallucinating. There is also a chance that he was tired of trying on clothes and, having found one pair in a size that fit, assumed that any pair in that size would fit. A seasoned veteran knows that even two identical items of clothing – the same size, brand, style, and color – will not necessarily both fit. Only the clothing manufacturers that control that particular ring of hell could tell you why.
Shopping Trip #2: We found ourselves back at the same store, looking for the same shorts, different size. The level of enthusiasm was not quite as high this time.
“The shorts that didn't fit, I'm assuming they were too big?” I asked as we wandered around looking for the racks and racks of shorts that were there just a week earlier.
“So, what was wrong with them?”
“There's too much fabric,” he said.
“So, they're too big,” I spoke slowly and clearly, because obviously he did not understand me the first time.
I decided to try a new approach.
“When you put them on, can you hold the waistband out away from yourself like this?” I demonstrated pulling on my own shorts. “And is there enough room to fit another person in there?”
“Mo-om,” he said, rolling his eyes the way his sister taught him.
Despite his utter lack of help, I finally found a variety of sizes for him to try on.
“Those have too much fabric,” he said, pointing at the wide legs on one pair. Ah ha! Too much fabric! Now we were getting somewhere. Maybe.
“Well, they are cargo pants... with cargo pockets... just like the ones you have on,” I said, gritting my teeth.
I put that pair back.
“And those are too short,” he said, pointing at another pair.
“You haven't tried them on. How can you tell they're too short?” I asked.
“The tag says 'above the knee',” he said.
“But they're....” I compared them to the pair he had on, which were exactly the same length.
He shrugged. Back on the rack they went.
That left two pair for him to try on. They both fit nicely, I thought. But he looked miserable.
“Do you think they fit?” I asked.
“Do you like them?”
“Will you wear them?”
“Then don't get them!” I growled, admitting defeat and wondering how much alcohol I could buy with the money we weren't spending on shorts.
“We could move to Canada,” he suggested, a smile brightening his face. “Then I wouldn't have to worry about shorts!” I'm not sure that reasoning is sound, but I seriously considered it for a moment.
We returned empty handed from that trip, but I had a plan: next time we would take The Princess with us. For some unknown, sibling-only reasoning, he will take fashion advice from her (probably because she lovingly threatens to “end him” if she doesn't like what he's wearing).
Shopping Trip #3: I turned the two of them loose in Young Men's and followed at a discreet distance. That is, until I heard peals of laughter. They were looking at everything except what they were supposed to be looking for, and The Princess had picked out two t-shirts – from the Young Men's sale rack – that she assured me she could not live without. When I reminded them of their assigned task, she tossed one pair of shorts at him and took off for the Junior Girl's section.
After much searching and bullying on my part, The Prince selected cargo shorts in dark grey, light black, and charcoal. Identical to the pair he had on.
As I waited outside the dressing room I realized that, this being August in Iowa, shorts-wearing weather will be drawing to a close soon and we'll have to head back out to buy long pants.
Or I could move him to Mexico. Then he wouldn't have to worry about long pants.