There are few things more sacrosanct than the handing down of clothes from one child to another. The process itself, like the items involved, has itself been handed down through the generations. I wore the clothes of my older brothers just as my aunts wore that of my mother. My father had just one younger sibling and she was a she, so probably didn’t get any hand-me-downs. Or did she?
My oldest is a daughter. The only girl in the family outside my wife. Before Maggie exerted her influence and converted her wardrobe into that more typically found in a boy’s closet, she had some girly clothes. Thankfully for her three younger brothers, she also had a number of girl cousins younger than she. Most of them got her pink and flowers. But some things stayed behind.
In a recent closet cleaning we came across a bag of shoes. The timing was excellent as both the twins, Theo and Ollie, had only pairs of sandals that fit their growing feet. With winter coming, their big feet needed something new. Or, as it turned out, something only slightly used.
For Theo we found a nice pair of dark blue shoes with orange accents and a group of red lights that flashed with every step. It turned out that only one of the shoes still flashed. This resulted in his pounding down the hall, one leg extended in front of him, watching in glee every time the working shoe worked. Peg Leg Bates would be proud.
After making our way through the rest of the bag, discarding the shoes too large or too small, we were left with just one pair. They fit perfectly, slid right on, and too had some flashers that excited Ollie. There was but one problem – they were white with pink hearts and some sassy stitching. They were indubitably shoes for girls.
I sorted through the bag again and found another pair. These were really too large but, we thought, might just work. No flashers, though, and they were about seven sizes too big. We were fooling ourselves. There was really only one pair that worked and they were the one adorned in pink hearts a-dancing.
And Ollie loved them. He did.
That decision is now many months behind us. I don’t even think about putting those shoes on him anymore. The first day he came home from school, he told us the teacher said he had girl shoes on. He didn’t say with any distress, though. It was all very matter-of-fact. Ollie liked his shoes and no one was going to tell him otherwise.
There aren’t many things from Maggie’s wardrobe that would cause this to come up again. By the time she was late into pre-school, she was already leaning heavily toward the boys section. No amount of cost-saving prudence will have us dress Henry or the twins in Easter dresses, so it’s all gender-classic clothes from here on out. That said, the case of the pink-hearted shoes proved the old idiom true: if the shoes fits, wear it.