This morning I helped my son get dressed for school.
It involved choosing superhero underwear (Green Lantern), choosing a superhero shirt (Batman), putting on superhero socks (Spider-man) and tying on a superhero cape (an inexplicably sparkly and inexplicably yellow Batman cape, which he was unhappily forced to take off before leaving the house).
It won’t be long before Detective Munch doesn’t need my help getting dressed or tying his cape on, which would be a little sad, if helping him put his clothes on didn’t usually devolve into a wrestling match at the end of which I need help tying something on (i.e., 500 beers). But that day hasn’t come yet.
Thankfully, there are a few steps before we get there.
The morning wardrobe routine got me thinking about the stages of my son’s life, the accompanying evolution of his fashion choices, and where Dad will factor in as he makes his way down the dress road. The clothes line? The fashion passage? Ugh.
As a parent, you can pretty much measure the passage of time by the way your child dresses, and by your own level of involvement in those wardrobe choices. At first you help with everything – you choose the clothes and you put them on. Soon, your son (or daughter) will starts choosing what he wants to wear all by himself – maybe not shopping for his own clothes at first, but definitely picking outfits out of the dresser – and for a while he’ll still need some help, tying his shoes at the very least. Soon he’ll buy his own stuff, likely a large collection of baseball caps for some reason, and if he’s anything like me, t-shirts and jeans. Eventually his wife will start making his choices for him, or maybe that’s just me, shut up.
The point it, as your kids get older, as with everything else in life, the parent’s role lessens, bit by dubiously-trendy bit.
But there are always some things your kids need help with, even when they’re fully grown. At which point you’ll probably be waiting on pins and needles for a phone call, even if it’s just a question about which cufflinks are appropriate, or if he can borrow grandpa’s pocket watch.
From what he wears to what size he wears to what he needs help putting on, clothing is a stealthy indicator of the passage of time.
So I made a quick list of the clothing items, and the associated assistance needed with them, my son will don as he progresses through the different stages of his life:
Baby = diaper change
Toddler = cape adjustment
Adolescent = baseball glove work-in
Pre-teen = jean pegging
Teen = cummerbund and/or vest fitting; clip-on tie clipping
College Kid = suit tailoring; and real tie tying
Wedding = bow tie tying (I have no idea how to do this)
Parenthood = smock selection and hip-flask and/or beer helmet purchase
It’s a little bittersweet to break my son’s life into such a short list of clothing-based milestones, but despite my acceptance of how quickly things move, it will be nice to be alongside him as he grows up, and I hope he actually lets me help him do some of those things. Except the pegged jeans. Is that still a thing?
Oh, and let me add one more to the list:
- Middle-aged = diaper change
That one pulls double-duty, because by the end of the list he’ll not only be helping his kids with their diapers, and he’ll probably be close to helping me with mine.
Don’t judge, we all have kinks.