Obvious statement alert: I love my son. Crazy, right? No really, it’s true. I do. Every nuance of his boy-ness is utterly extraordinary to me. Absolutely, why wouldn’t you smash that toy robot against the side of the bookshelf? Yes, I too was wondering what that handful of mud would taste like! Of course! Raising a tiny dude has been absolutely fascinating in its foreignness. Pass me a Tonka Truck, because I’m hooked. That said, in the interest of full-disclosure; for the entirety of my pregnancy, I 100%, without question, wanted a girl. I’d like to say it was because I grew up with only one sibling, a younger sister. Or because I did a short stint as a nanny for a dear friend’s two lovely daughters. Hell, even back in the day when I was a card-carrying member of the babysitter’s club, my charges were always precocious little girls. In my limited baby experience, I had less than zero experience with boys. My longing for the familiar in the fish-out-of-water world of first time parenthood was reasonable enough. But if I’m being completely honest, above anything else, it was all about the clothes.
I recall wandering through the baby section of my neighborhood Target in a daze, my belly only an hour before slathered in goo and wanded over to reveal I was harboring an itty bitty willy. My attempt at retail therapy fell apart completely when I unwittingly wandered into a sea of pink ruffles. Pint-sized Mary Janes? Thanks but no thanks. Impossibly tiny tutus? Keep on walking. I fought the urge to hurl myself atop a pile of gingham party dresses and weep as I felt my dress-up doll fantasy melting away. But wait…is that a tiny grandpa cardigan? A little denim jacket? Wow, I didn’t even know they made fedoras that small! All right then. I think I can get in to this….
I had been completely unaware of the vast array of hipster classics sized for the diminutive gentleman. Onesies emblazoned with musical iconography from Ziggy Stardust to Johnny Cash. Before he even possesses awareness of his extremities, you can stuff those chubby little baby feet into a pair of Chuck Taylor sneakers. Top the look off with a tiny motorcycle jacket (complete with superfluous zippers) and someone’s ready to go loft-hunting in Williamsburg!
But even with this array of itty bitty fashionisto cuteness, I still noticed several disturbing trends. True atrocities onto baby-kind. For instance, a vast selection of t-shirts boasting the child’s prowess with the fairer sex. Eeeeeew! Now, I’m no prude. Farthest thing from it, actually. But if you ever find me purchasing a onesie that reads “Daddy says I’m a MILF magnet”, know that I’ve lost my ever-loving mind and I require immediate and drastic psychiatric intervention. Seriously, crank those electrodes to ‘Silvia Plath’. Not that I doubt my adorable son’s ability to ensure my husband is perpetually knee-deep in playground skanks, but I don’t know if that’s where we’d like to spend our advertising dollars this quarter. Gross. There also seemed to be a disproportionate amount of nautically themed clothing for young boys; as if we’re raising a generation on tiny, effeminate sailors. Now I enjoy the crisp ocean air as much as the next person, but that doesn’t mean that I want to dress my son like a chorus singer from a community theater production of The H.M.S. Pinafore. If my boy ever decided to take to the seas, my hope would be that he’d opt for the understated elegance of a tasteful navy and white stripe. Or perhaps something with a little retro cache, a la The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. But pale yellow bloomers embroidered with baby blue anchors? Sailor beware.
So here’s what I’ve learned: beyond the fashion disasters that would have your wee man looking like a foppish dandy, old-timey baseball player, or Ed Hardy reject, there’s much fun to be had with your baby boy’s wardrobe. Imagine someone took an issue of GQ and shrunk it to adorable proportions. At times it’s nearly too cute to take. And so I continue to spend the money that should be used for things like paying off my gargantuan student loans on expanding my son’s wardrobe. Only occasionally do I feel that old longing for the pink and frilly. But who knows, perhaps when we walk down that road again, the next child will be a girl. For the sake of my credit card debt, I sort of hope not. Besides, who would wear all these hand-me-down cardigans?