Keeping Kids Dressed With Respect

Have you ever had to deal with someone who can drive a perfectly healthy person insane by worrying over imagined ailments of their children?  I had a friend who’d call me every time her son had a bruise on his head, or a scuffed knee from falling off his skateboard.  It got so bad that I purposely didn’t give her my new smartphone number.

Even worse was her fear that others would judge her parenting abilities by how her children were dressed.  This lady was the only person I ever met who would buy her kids clothes just to wear on their doctor visits.  She’d get them the best items she could pick out from The Children’s Place, where they have a wide selection of items and clothing for youngsters from infancy up through puberty.  Her kids would have some of the best wardrobes in town from her youngest’s first wear to her pre-teen’s t-jacket and jeans that he wore faithfully on every trip to the local ballfield with his pals.  She’d use a Groupon promo code to get new items at a discount; then dress her kids in them when she took them in for their regular checkups.  The folks at the doctor’s office always said she had the best-dressed kids in his practice; they never wore the same clothes twice.

I did hear from my own kids that her children were somewhat embarrassed by all that special attention.  My third-grader told me the woman’s daughter once held a mini- “yard sale” at the school playground during their outdoor lunch – she either sold or traded off some of the less used items for things the other kids had in abundance, like toys, candy and similar stuff.  Her oldest boy would compare the value of his sneakers with those of his classmates.  He’d then explain that he only had his because his mother had been smart and used a Groupon to get them at a bargain price.  This made the other kids all start come home talking about Groupons and asking parents why they hadn’t been using them to buy their own clothes.  It didn’t create lasting enemies among the parents, but some advised her not to let her kids go talking prices with schoolmates and friends.