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Monday, February 18, 2013

never be normal

The title of this post is a knockoff of a great one written by Mrs. Money Mustache about how living the frugal life (she would say the Mustachian life) can permanently alter your perception and habits.
She titled her post "You'll never be normal again!"

I took my younger son to the mall yesterday. Why, you ask?
He needed shoes, grey jeans, and long sleeved t-shirts.
Well, he really needed shoes. They do that, those kids, they grow and outgrow things.
The jeans and t-shirts I wouldn't say he really needed.

However, he has decided that grey jeans are the color for him, and so the grey pair now has a giant hole in the knee but he continues to wear them to school. So traditional of me, but it bugs me.
He has blue pairs and black pairs that stay in the closet.
Same with shirts--he has several, but they are either very frayed, too large, or somehow not quite right.

I suggested second-hand shopping--at least twice. But he looked at me earnestly and said, "I've had so many second or third hand clothes in my life, Mama--almost all of my clothes were (p'tit minou un)'s first, and lots of those were someone else's first too."

He is right. And while I know that this is not a bad thing, that wearing hand-me-downs or third-hand clothes does not mean deprivation, I was still swayed--I wanted him to know that he is important to me, that I heard this was important to him, that he meant enough to me that I would swallow my aversion and go to the mall.

And so we did. Yikes. Once we were there, we quickly found jeans, and shoes, and plotted our escape. The smells, the crowds, the lights, the pounding music--it was completely sensory overload for me, and I suspect for p'tit minou deux as well. Because an odd thing happened when we couldn't find any plain, simple, long sleeved t-shirts in either of the two stores we had now been in. Everything had logos, or writing, or branding, and that wasn't what he wanted. Neither did we want to venture any further into that giant place.

He sort of forgot why we had come, and began saying that he didn't really need any more t-shirts (forgetting the weeks of rejecting the ones he has for above reasons or size or conditions). Meanwhile, I went into bossy generalista Mama mode and became very directive, demanding of the young skateboarder/hipster clerk WHY they didn't have PLAIN CHEAP t-shirts and WHERE could someone who HATED the mall find such a thing. Because I was darned if I was going to come back another day after p'tit minou deux remembered that actually he really wanted a t-shirt or two.

Target, the young man told me. Go to Target.
It was in a different mall.
So heck, we were already out and about (driving, I might add)--we drove there too.

I am happy that my son is happy. I want him to have non-ripped and non-frayed clothes to wear to school. I get that he has had almost exclusively hand-me-downs (except for the times his lovely Grammy has taken him shopping), and appreciated having something new for himself. He has the right to have his own opinions about the colors and styles he prefers, and he is usually a very easygoing member of the family who tends not to assert his own wants and needs too strongly (maybe not strongly enough, at times).

However, I feel downright icky. We drove our car at least 15 miles round trip, polluting the air. We bought clothing that was cheap for us because it was likely manufactured by someone in a sweatshop in Nicaragua or Bangladesh. Clothing that he did not really need (except for the shoes). Money spent that is also now not going to melt the mortgage this month.

Did I do the right thing? Am I making too big a deal out of this?

What do you think? Have you had similar dilemmas?

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