There are some downright awesome shirt designs out there for kids. Our two year old daughter’s shirt with cartoon marshmallows joyously leaping into a mug of hot chocolate, or our five year old son’s red shirt with a timeless/retro shiny metal robot swirling through the air leaving a rainbow behind him. Or the the overlapping rainbow silhouettes of a stegosaurus wearing sunglasses.
I have a ball looking at all the fun graphic shirts as we stroll through the kid’s section of stores. And to be honest, as I initially wrote this, I was intending it to be a bit of a gripe with shirt selections for our son as he moves from size 5 to 6.
For a long time I had noticed that those awesome, creative, happy designs on shirts are becoming harder and harder to find once you move beyond a size 5. No, for a while it seemed that once you hit size 6, the clothing industry primarily focuses all its creative energy to the same, tiring theme of “extreme!” or “in your face!” designs that are so eye-roll worthy, I feel like I’m in a bad TV show trying to be hip.
And my biggest question was, “why?”
Why was it that so many clothing manufacturers (and retailers) make such an incredible shift from fun to cliche “extreme!” with the step up from one age/size to the next? Not only from a consumer standpoint, but a cultural one. In a world that could use more thought, more care in each of us, no matter our age, why would we push upon impressionable young boys (I say that because this is mostly seen in young boy’s clothing versus the girls) this image/statement through wardrobe that once you hit six, get ready to be in your face, get ready to be tough, get ready to be extreme?
I’m a believer that variety is the spice of life, but there seemed to be smaller and smaller variety for boys starting at this age. I couldn’t understand why options for young boys were being narrowly limited to skulls and crossbones, camo, or sayings like “prove it!”
It felt as if we as a society push them toward a peg they’re subconsciously told they need to fit into instead of allowing a child of 5, 6, 7, etc, just be a kid, to relish in the fun, the silliness, and imagination that is childhood and allow them to discover who they are on their own, free of the stereotypes that adults seem to think matter.
However, as I mentioned, this may have started out as a gripe, but is turning into some appreciation. I’ve noticed recently that this is now so much the overwhelming case I once found it to be when we’d walk through the kid’s clothing racks at stores. And I’m grateful for that. A trip through Kohl’s young boys section may not have all the cute designs of their Jumping Beans for toddlers to preschool age, but there seems to be much less of the “in your face,” tough guy” stuff I once felt was everywhere I turned while we shopped. The same goes for Target, which seems to, by my notice anyway, increased selection of clothing for young boys with cool geometric and color designs, animals, dinosaurs, and less harsh words and a great focus on discovery and kindness.
I for one am incredibly grateful. I’m sure there are many stores out there too, I just mention these two as a pair of the larger box stores in our area. And of course, there’s always great selections from individual clothing designers that you can find with a little bit of time online. And whether it’s a shift from the manufacturers, the retailers, or just an individual taking the time to shop online through smaller merchants, it’s worth the time and effort. Because spreading even a little bit more happiness through a shirt that makes us smile is the kind of chain reaction of brightness we need more of in the world.
And there is an upside to the question of wardrobe for young boys. Our little guy chooses his own clothes when he gets up and dressed each morning and more often than not as of late, we’ve noticed he bypasses pictures, characters, logos, etc, and goes with solid colors, stripes, or other wardrobe items that remain neutral in their appearance. It may sound a bit bland, but what we’ve come to realize is that his choices allow his own individual personality to shine through, not cluttered by a shirt with a saying, or even that adorable little robot flying through the air I love so dear.
Maybe in the end each child finds what their individual style is, how it fits into who they are, and of course, as we parents all know from our own childhoods, that’ll change time and time again.
When we were having our son more than 3 years ago and Meg brought up the topic of cloth diapers, I kept an open mind, but admit, my lack of knowledge on the subject made me pretty darn skeptical.
We tried , but as with many things that go with the whirlwind of a first child, it didn’t exactly go as planned and after a few attempts, ended up going the route of disposable diapers until he was out of them and into big boy undies.
When our little girl arrived four months ago, we had decided to try again. While I still was slightly skeptical, I realized this time that any skepticism was mostly due, once again, to my inexperience with cloth diapers.
I had questions
But how do you wash them?
What do you do with the poop?
Is this sanitary?
I had a lot of questions. But, as with many things when a second child comes around, parents find themselves a little more at ease having been through it before. So, this time, as my wife was determined to make this commitment, I was determined to learn more and get on board with it.
It took a few diaper changes to learn how, but man, was this learning curve easy. We’re not talking about the old cloth diapers from the old Disney and Looney Tunes shorts with a wrap of white cloth and a baby pin. No, no, no. Those still exist, but truly, I can’t believe how far cloth diapers have come. The material, the styles, the sheer variety (pre-fold, pockets, all-in-one – all phrases I never thought I would know, let alone use) is mind-boggling.
We stocked up in an effort to be prepared, because if you’re going to do this, you’re going to need quite a few. Think about how many diapers you go through in the course of a day, then think about if you had to wash and wait for each to dry before using.
So, there’s a lot of bins filled with these patterned and colorful diapers that look a bit like a bin of Easter eggs. As I say, variety, variety, variety.
I was certainly game and as I say, the changing of them was a quick learn. Unsnap/unbutton (yes, they have buttons/snaps these days!), fold up, put into a vinyl diaper bag (instead of the trash), wipe as normal, and then put a nice, new, cushy cloth diaper on those little buns. And voila, we’re changed! That vinyl bag of diapers fills up over time and when it’s full, the diapers get washed, dried, and if the weather’s nice, put out in the sun for some added sunkissed sanitation and whitening.
Of course, I’m still going to admit how new this is to me. I have not yet actually done a load of these cloth diapers in the wash yet. Meg has. So I am sure there is a whole other layer to this I’ve yet to explore in my ignorance. But I will say that in terms of the changing, it’s been a piece of cake.
The proof is in the pudding…er…in the poop
The true test, though…what really pushed me over the edge and on board…was, well quite, frankly, the poop.
Like so many babies, our little lady has had her fair share of blowouts in the first few months of her life. You know what i mean. It goes everywhere. Up the front, up the back. Everywhere. And I can’t tell you how many outfits have had poop go right through, calling for a whole new cleaning and outfit.
But, knock on wood, not when she’s been wearing her cloth diapers. I certainly can’t rattle off the brand names to you, as I don’t know them all, but I have noticed the little tags on them while I’ve changed, and two that spring to mind are Thirsties and BumGenius cloth diapers. And these things are thick. Thick, yet soft. And puffy. And based on every time I’ve had to change a blowout diaper, I would take a cloth diaper over disposable to handle those explosions any day of the week. They absorb, they keep it all in, just where it’s supposed to be, leaving daddy to just wipe and change the diaper versus wipe, change the diaper, wash her and change an entire outfit that got soaked through.
I am all about this.
I now find myself a father and husband completely on board with the idea of cloth diapers.
They’re soft, they’re re-usable, and man, do they absorb and hold in so much more than the disposables. We all have our fair share of baby blowouts and I feel pretty confident now in saying that in those blowout moments, I’d much rather have her in a cloth diaper than a disposable, keeping in everything we don’t want getting out (if you know what I mean).
Things will change
And yeah, once she reaches the stage of solid foods and stops nursing, things will change – as poop from a breastmilk-only diet is water soluable, that solid-food poop – not so much. That will mean trips to the potty before the diapers can be washed to dump out each diaper and spray it with water when the time comes. So will I be singing the same tune then? I hope so, but, I admit, we will see when the time comes.
Don’t mistake my appreciation for a full-on lifestyle change or an implication that anyone else needs to feel the same way. As I’ll be honest, we still use disposable diapers during the overnight hours, we still use them at grandma’s house, and we still use them when we’re not at home and out and about.
It’s a balance.
But, the mere fact that they are an option to us, allowing us (if even a little) to cut back on how much we spend, how much we add to the trash pile, and to really soak up those baby poops a little better, I’m all for.
Like the warehouse at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark, it is a sea of forgotten memories. Some that elicit the light of joy, while others are best left forgotten, begging the question of why we hung onto them in the first place.
We’ve been in our current house for six years and only now have we gotten to tackling what we thought would be a cinch so early on – cleaning, organizing and making the basement space useful. It’s required taking pretty much everything and placing it into the middle of the basement in one big clump so that the walls could be painted from gray to white and the floor I painted half off a few years ago could finally be joined by the other fifty percent.
I feel like this venture will eventually elicit several blog posts spurred on by the memories unearthed, but for now, I want to talk about baby clothes.
Yes. Baby clothes.
There we sat, my wife and I, with bins upon bins of baby clothes brought up from the basement and sitting in our living room like we were ready to open a store that rivaled Babies R Us. Between hand me downs as various family members have children that outgrow clothes, the clothes we had bought for the little guy, and the clothes purchased by family members as gifts that filled probably half of those bins, we had a lot to sort through.
We spent the night sorting through all those old clothes, both for organizational reasons as we try to make better use of space, but also in prep for the new baby to take stock of what we already have.
As I noticed how our piles and plastic bins were all sorted by the age ranges on the clothing tags, from 3 months to 9 months to 24 months, I thought, why not do this for adults?
Instead of going to the store and looking for a medium, we could tell them “I need a 30-35 years top. You know what. Make it a onesie. Cuz who needs pants?”
During one of our favorite weekend rituals (a cup of tea and watching CBS Sunday Morning), I came across this report that I really found interesting. I thought you might too:
(sorry. WordPress won’t allow me to directly embed the video, but please give it a click and a watch)
It’s amazing to see how truly color blind (and that’s a good thing) we were when it came to our children. Leave it to the marketing folks and the manufacturers to find a way to not only make some extra cash on our kids, but change an entire cultural mindset to do so.
It’s sort of like mass-hypnosis when you think about it. Quite frightening when you think about it too much…
I have an obsession with the website, shirt.woot
For those of you not in the know, shirt.woot is a website that allows artists to submit designs for a t-shirt, and web users vote on their favorites. Each week tends to revolve around a different theme, although you’ll find the occasional random design. The winning entries are then offered as that day’s woot, and you can purchase it, with free shipping, on that particular day. After that day, the clock starts ticking and unless it’s popular enough in sales in the weeks that follow for it to continue, the shirt disappears and your chance is gone.
It makes for some very unique threads.
I became aware of woot because of my brother, who had purchased a few shirts from there over the years and would often send me a little note if that day’s woot was something we’d both find particularly funny to look at (even if neither of us bought it).
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve bought a few for myself, including this great shout-out for fans of the TV show, Arrested Development:
And as I mentioned, the woots change each day, making their website a bit of a daily destination to see what’s gone up for sale that day. I even added it to my web browser shortcuts at work so that I can take the daily peek at what woots are wooting. 🙂
But, here’s where the slippery slope came – some of my favorite shirt designs have been absolutely perfect for kids, and woot DOES offer them in a child’s size.
Sure, even their smallest child size won’t fit my kid for probably a year or two to come, but who could resist the “Okey Dokey, Artichokey,” “Family Portrait” (get it? it’s the planets), or “A Day at the Loch” with Nessie in her swimmie-gear?
I admit it. I’ve got a handful of woot shirts for the kid already, stashed away in the nursery closet, as I know there’s still quite some time before they can wear them. How could I pass up getting my hands on such absolutely adorable shirts that are almost as unique as my soon to be born?
I just couldn’t resist. I was powerless in the grip of their cuteness.