The Changing of the Garb

School starts in less than a week, and I still haven’t figured out what we need for school clothes. Last year, I was shocked when it was time for kindergarten and my son had no shoes that fit him. The flip flops he had been wearing all summer betrayed me, his feet fitting perfectly in the same size he had worn all summer.

I didn’t know at the time, but flip flops are magical. They grow with a child’s foot, never allowing a toe or heel to dangle off, despite a two shoe size growth from May to September. I vowed not to be lured into complacency by tricky footwear again, yet here we are, mere days from full-time, closed toe days, and I haven’t lifted a finger to see how huge my son’s feet have gotten.

Thankfully, we can do our shopping in the kids’ closets. The entire floor of their closets are full of boxes and white garbage bags full of hand-me-downs, and I rarely have to purchase clothing for either of my kids. For a family on a budget that could be described as “adorable” or “seriously?”, this is a blessing. For a mom who spent too many years in retail to ever enjoy shopping, this is a miracle.

Still, to make room for the new, we must banish the old. At some point, this season’s shorts and sundresses must make room for next season’s jeans and long sleeves. Last spring’s jackets, still hanging in the closet are no longer covering wrists, and there is an equally awesome jacket in one of the bags on the closet floor, if only someone would dig it out. Saying goodbye to clothing the kids have grown out of is bittersweet, but it must be done. The kids have younger cousins who will receive our cast-offs, and the apparel circle of life will continue.

This doesn’t happen naturally, however, and I must commit to rooms full of piles of clothing – pants over here, skirts that might fit in this pile, sweaters there. To properly sort everything, my models need to be ready to work. Like real models, I can’t expect peak performance from them if they were up too late the night before.

My boy has the shortest attention span when it comes to trying on eleventy billion items of clothing in one shot. “I’m toooo tirrrred to try on pants,” he’ll whine. Even with a party-free night, they’ll still act like divas. “That shirt fits!” The cries of my girl, pining over a sparkly purple shirt three sizes too big, will pierce my soul. She’ll clutch it tightly, glitter falling to the ground in piles, making her room look like a Las Vegas hotel suite.

I’ll press on, sorting, pleading, and bribing the kids into trying on an entire season’s worth of clothing in one sitting. We never make it more than halfway through the task, and after a bit, I am able to eyeball sizes with remarkable accuracy. Years in retail, remember?

Eventually, we’ll be spent.

Looking around at the strewn clothing, half naked models, and glitter everywhere, I’ll cash in my chips and walk away from our Vegas vacation.

The kids will wear summer clothing for another month or so, and I’ll be happy we have taken stock of our fall clothing choices. I’ll still need to buy a pair of shoes for my kids’ monstrous feet, but since I haven’t dropped a dime otherwise, I’ll have enough change leftover to buy myself a coffee as a reward for completing our back to school shopping.

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