by MIA FREEDMAN
When my now 15-year-old son was in primary schools, most days started with another argument about what he’d be wearing. I never expected to have fashion fights with my son. When I imagined being a parent, I has always pictured my off-spring dressed compliantly in cool little outfits that cleverly reflected my own fashion sense.
Not accessories, as such but more like stylish little extensions of my own love of clothes and my own opinions of what looked good on a small child. Okay, I pictured the kids as accessories. But like most pre-conceived notions of how your child will behave and what you’ll be like a mother, I got it so very wrong.
Let’s start at the beginning. Fifteen years ago, when Luca was born, there wasn’t much on offer in the way of baby clothes. It was pre-Bonds reinvention, back when they only did plain baby singlets and terry-towelling jumpsuits in pastel pink, blue, yellow and white.
Also on offer were assorted other labels that did frilly froufrou stuff with naff ducky and teddy prints. Back then, GAP was the Holy Grail for their simple, well-made, cute basics but since you couldn’t yet buy it online, you had to send someone to get it. Any friend or relative going to the USA was instructed to bring back bag loads of the stuff.
Through the toddler years, Luca’s wardrobe was fairly uneventful. Boy’s clothes aren’t much fun: it’s just tops and pants with the odd superhero cape that becomes popular around age two. That’s it. All year round. Dull really.
While my friends with girls got to indulge their fashion fantasies through their daughters, dressing them in fairy dresses and a riot of pink, the most fun I had was cutting the sleeves off the occasional t-shirt. I never understood how Pamela Anderson persuaded her sons to wear tricky beanies or how Elle Macpherson convinced her boys to wear hippie beads and bandanas. I tried all that but my son wouldn’t have a bar of it.
Like most small boys, my son was growing and messy, I saw no point in buying him expensive clothes and stuck exclusively to cheap stuff. Target was a favourite. So was Myer’s house brand called Kids World.
The single exception to this rule was when Luca was about four and I splurged on three pieces of Diesel Kids from Marcs: cargo pants, a jumper and a jacket. Together, the amount they cost me was obscene. But by golly those clothes looked cool.
And I justified it by reminding myself how much money I’d saved over the years by shopping at Target (this was my first experience at shopping justification on behalf of someone else – fortunately the rules are the same as when you justify a big purchase for yourself: denial is your friend).
My karmic punishment for spending so much money on such a little person came quickly. The following week, he came home from kindy with a large hole cut into one leg of his new Diesel pants. “I wanted to see if the scissors were sharp,” explained my child who has never willfully destroyed an item of clothing before or since. Perhaps he was just customising.