The subconscious dress code | Living with Gleigh

Last Friday morning as my oldest daughter was leaving for school she told me she didn’t have any clean pants. She was wearing Capri pants and although I noticed, I didn’t think anything of it because of our recent balmy autumn days.

I asked her how she could be out of pants as I had just done laundry on Tuesday and surely she owned at least more three pairs. So after she left for school I went and checked her drawer and found two more pairs hidden under the rest of her summer clothes. It’s not unusual for my kids not to look very hard for their belongings. I think I’ve even written a column about it, but that’s not what this column is about.

It’s about the fact my daughter won’t wear her pants more than one day in a row. It’s not that my daughter is concerned about maintaining high fashion. She just refuses to wear a pair of pants more than once before she puts them in the laundry.

I know why she is like this. When my daughters were small I would not let them wear clothes more than one day. Kids are messy beings and no child under the age of ten or eleven can go a whole day without messing up their pants.

They spill food, they fall, they wipe their hands on their pants, they slide down things and climb up things. But when they get into the double digits (it takes some kids longer), they stay fairly clean all day. When they get to be teens they are home free when it comes to daily clothing disasters.

But my daughter had a clothing disaster that scarred her subconscious dress code for life. And it was my fault.

When she was in Kindergarten, my mother was living with us after my father’s death. I had gotten my life guarding certification at the ripe old age of 37 and was guarding the 6:00am lap swim every morning. So my mother was getting my daughter up and ready for school. I’d come home from life guarding just in time to take her to school.

She had a pair of royal blue, cotton Capris she just loved. In fact, she loved them so much when I came home one Wednesday, she was wearing them for the third time that week. I was appalled. I didn’t really mind her wearing them again, but they were trashed. They were grimy and wrinkled and looked like someone pulled them out of a compost bin.

So using my best parenting skills, I asked my mother, with my daughter standing there listening, why she would let her wear these grimy pants again making her look like a homeless child. My mother must’ve needed new glasses because she told me they weren’t that bad and she was saving on laundry by letting her wear them again.

I told my mom that since she didn’t do the laundry, I would decide how often to wash my daughter’s pants. After that I put my daughter in the car and drove her to school. I pulled up in front of the school and my daughter wouldn’t get out of the car. Because of my stellar parenting, she was suddenly aware of how dirty her pants were.

Seeing as I was the one who pointed out how grimy they were and made a big deal out of it, I was obligated to drive her home so she could change her pants. And now she never wears a pair of pants twice.

But now that she is 5’10” tall, laundry loads are a big deal and it would help me if she didn’t have seven pairs of pants in the laundry; she apparently only owns five.

For those of you who have read my column, you know I pride myself on only doing laundry once a week. So I either have to break down and wash a load of pants between laundry days or I have to buy my daughter more pants.

But it’s a matter of principal. I wear my pants twice, she can too. I don’t own seven pair of pants, she doesn’t need seven pairs.

So I once again need to use my best parenting skills and tell my daughter to wash her own pants; I bet she’ll choose to wear them twice.


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