In elementary school, I had a pair of hand-me-down pants from one of my older sisters that I hated wearing.
To be clear, this school-age cross-dressing was imposed by my parents as a cost saving measure since they had five kids to clothe and feed.
Being that I had two older sisters, 50 percent of my “gender neutral” closet (i.e. pants, pull over sweaters, zipper hoodies…etc) was technically girls’ clothes.
Hand-Me-Downs From My Sisters
I’m not proud of that fact, but it was an economic reality of my childhood.
But there was one pair of slacks that was particularly problematic.
The master-branding of Pooh bear was emblazoned across the over-sized, backside pockets of the pants in excruciatingly bright embroidery spanning from my tailbone to mid-thigh – because the pants were two sizes too large.
In hindsight, a third-grade girl might have been able to manage wearing those cursedly cute pants and not get harassed – not so if you were a boy.
Victim of Fashion Faux Pas
On three separate occasions, my mother made me wear those pants to school because they were the only pants I had clean.
Regrettably, it seemed that none of the tried and true camouflage tactics worked.
No amount of “t-shirt tugging” or “sweatshirt-tying-around-my-waist” would cover the massive geography of the adorably-damning needlework on my keister.
Needless to say, I was beaten up each time I wore those pants to school and each time I came home sobbing about the abuse my mother would try to comfort me by saying,
“Honey, all those other kids are just jealous of your pants.”
I mean, say ALL the facts of the situation out loud:
“Honey those 10 year old boys who beat you up are all jealous of the same purple-pin-striped Winnie the Pooh bell bottoms that your 10 year old sister used to wear to their shared classes.”
Bigger Lies I Would Have Believed
I would have been more apt to believe in Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and the legitimacy of unauthorized Obama Administration wiretaps on journalists before I believed my mother’s whooper of misdirection.
The simple fact was that those pants were not cool and a lighting rod for juvenile ridicule.
To avoid any further schoolyard pummelings, I started doing my own laundry to ensure I always had clean pants. Since I was also responsible for taking out the trash for the household, I discretely disposed of the perditionesque Pooh pants
Being Cool is the Rule of Law for Kids
Anyway, the point is that ever since then I was painfully aware of the need to be accepted in school and the importance of being perceived as cool by peers.
To help our daughters avoid the same peer-induced pain I endured, my wife and I have allowed our daughters (ages 9 and 11) to pick out their own clothes and footwear ever since they expressed clothing preferences.
We want them to feel accepted and to limit at least one potential area of school-based cruelty by helping them dress on trend.
However, it seems that the clothing calculus has changed since I was a kid – and what you wear is only part of the equation.
It seems the real driver of coolness among “the preteen set” is owning a smart phone.
This became evident over a dinner conversation a few weeks ago when our oldest asked if she could have a cell phone because it would help her “be cool.”
My wife and I have discussed this issue many times regarding the pros and cons of allowing our 11 year old to have a cell phone. While she’s certainly mature enough to handle the responsibility – I’m reluctant.
It’s not that I don’t trust her, I simply don’t trust all the other individuals who have access to technology that could interface with her.
The Price of Cool???
While most of her friends already have uber-cool cell phones, email accounts and FB pages – parents of those same friends are dealing with a crop of new issues and problems (i.e. hacked accounts, spamming, false posts, cyber-bulling…etc.), which I don’t want my kids to endure yet.
In other words, despite my own personal experience as an uncool kid – I’m committed to keeping my kids as uncool as I can for as long as I can.
Question: Do you think you were cool or uncool as a kid growing up? Why?