If you ever find me asleep but groggily chanting ‘roll-up pants, roll-up pants, roll-up pants’, PLEASE wake me up!!!

And so there we were.  Again.

My younger son, Bozo, throwing an epic  tantrum in his car seat with all the bells and whistles, screaming, “I want to wear my roll-up pants!  I want to wear my roll-up pants!!”, thrashing, and kicking the back of my seat while I sat up front, driving 50 miles an hour completely dissociating from the entire situation.  It was my only escape.

I should have a sticker on the back of my car that asks, “How Am I Driving?” because on these mornings, I really have no idea.  However, let me back up a bit.

For about a year and a half/two years now, we have all had to endure what we like to call Bozo’s “Diva” behavior when it comes to his clothes, among other things.

He has two pairs of pants that he will wear and only two.  One pair he calls his “roll-up” pants because about 8 months ago they were too long and we had to roll them up (now they’re too short and have patches all over them).  The other pair he calls his “blue pants” because they’re a darker blue.  They too, have patches all over.  And the holes are now creeping out from under the patches on both pairs.  Here, I’ll show you:

IMG_3654
“Blue Pants” and “Roll-Up Pants”, respectively.

As a matter of fact, ALL of my boys’ jeans look like this.  Here, I’ll prove it:

I took this picture over a year ago.  Just picture about 10 more pairs to this pile since that's how many more pairs I've had to boy and patch and mend and ultimately discard.
I took this picture over a year ago. Just add about 10 more pairs to this pile since that’s how many more pairs I’ve had to buy and patch and mend and ultimately discard.

But, back to the issue at hand:

Then, Bozo has two shirts that he’ll wear (an angry bird pair and a yellow shirt) and only one pair of socks (green camo socks with a hole in the toe).  He likes those socks because they have virtually no seam at the toe, which irritates him, and because he can pull them way up high and tight.  Before he found these camo socks, I would normally have to bring down 3-4 pairs for him to try on.

So Bozo will only wear two pairs of pants, two shirts and one pair of socks and there are seven days in a week:  you do the math.  With all total combinations, this only allows him 4 different variations of the clothes in one week, which is not enough.  I can’t do laundry every single day and I can’t allow him to wear dirty clothes to school.  He already looks like a little hobo, I really don’t want him to smell on top of that, or else someone is going to call Child Services on me for neglect.  I was already paranoid about this when, about a year ago, he refused to even wear clothes to school, but would only wear his pajamas.  And they

began to look ratty and torn and get holes in the knees and he started to outgrow them and I figured any minute I was going to get a call from DCF saying I was neglecting my kid.

Which brings us to our daily morning debacle.

It all starts with the announcement, “It’s time to get dressed”.  With that, comes a barrage of whines and protests from both of my boys, but at least my older son just puts on whatever is there.

But Bozo over there!?  Oh he’s just getting warmed up.

He sees the pants I’ve laid out for him.  ” I don’t like those pants” he whines.  “I know, but your other two pants are in the wash.  They’re dirty.  You’re wearing those”.

“Noooooo…..I don’t LIKE those pants!!!  I want my roll-up pants!!!”

“I just told you they’re dirty.  You’re not wearing dirty pants to school, plus the holes have gotten bigger and I have to figure out a way to patch them again!  Now put those on RIGHT NOW” (no matter how many times I say it, I know deep down, none of this will fly).

He refuses and heads into the laundry room to find his dirty, holey roll-up pants nonetheless.   He comes back out livid and stomping.  He attempts to put on the perfectly good patch-less pants and complains and whines the whole time about how they feel and how they fit and so on and so on.  He’s on the floor kicking, saying over and over, “I want to wear my roll-up pants, I want to wear my roll-up pants”.  And then he yells at me because he didn’t want to wear his yellow shirt today, he wants to wear his angry bird shirt and I should have known that!!

By this time, the bus has arrived, so I take Si out to get on.  When I come back in, Bozo no longer has pants on.  “What are you doing???  We’ve got to go soon!!!??”.

“I don’t like that UNDERWEAR!!!” he yells at me.  “Will you go upstairs and get me some more??”.  “No!” I say, “because I have NO IDEA which ones are ‘good’ underwear and ‘bad’ underwear and no matter which ones I bring down you’re not going to like them.  Only YOU know which ones are okay, so YOU go upstairs and get them and HURRY UP!!!”.

See, now I’m pissed off.  Because I’ve got to get to work a bit early today and this morning is only getting worse.  I try to pack the car with everything else (bags, lunch boxes, my computer, etc) so that as soon as he’s dressed we can go.

He comes back downstairs, angry and fuming, but with underwear on.  I’ve got the cammo socks in my hand (thank god).  He pouts and won’t look at me as he gets his shirt on….but then decides to perform an encore of the earlier scene about the pants.

“I want to wear my roll-up pants!!!!” he starts to whine.  This is in the mud room of our house with me dressed and ready to go and him, laying on the floor surrounded by boots with only a shirt and underwear on.  Now, I’ve found myself in this situation before mind you.  And I don’t handle it the exact same way every time.  Some days I say “FINE”!! and grab his roll-up pants because I can’t take it anymore.  Some days I got great sleep and am not in a hurry and can take 5 minutes to sit with him and move through it more slowly.

This morning was neither of those mornings.  His pants were in the bottom of the hamper, shoved way down with the smelly old kitchen wash cloths and dirty underwear, so there was NO WAY I was sending him to school in them and I don’t have extra time to cater to his wardrobe issues.

So, I have to force-dress him today.  That means, putting him on my lap, getting the pants on and pulling his socks on, pulling his boots on and getting his jacket on ALL while he writhes and cries chanting, “I want to wear my roll-up pants, I want to wear my roll-up pants”.

I get him strapped into his car seat, I get myself buckled into the driver seat and we pull out of the driveway and head to school

I hate mornings like this more than anything.  And it’s actually not even because of the effing roll-up pants.  It’s because I love my little Bozo more than anything and I hate that we have to say good-bye in the mornings after having had such a horrible time together.  I hate that my little goof-ball boy who makes me laugh and is the biggest cuddle bug EVER, can throw me into such a fit of rage that I have to “check-out” just to stay sane.

And unfortunately, it’s not just his clothes.  It’s his picky eating, it’s bedtime ( he doesn’t want the sheet touching his body, he wants the soft fleece blanket touching his body, so I’ve had to strip his bed before to rearrange what order all of his bedding is in)…..

It’s a lot of things.

It’s frustrating.  It’s exhausting.  It’s enraging.  Sometimes it’s actually comical and all I can do is laugh at how ludicrous the situation is.  Sometimes, when all the planets are aligned, it’s a non-issue.  And I’ve noticed those days happening more and more as he gets older.  (not often enough, but I’ll take anything at this point).

It’s also not a lot of things.  It’s not Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  It’s not Sensory Integration Disorder.  It’s not Oppositional Defiant Disorder.  Our children are not diseased or disordered.  This is how children have been since the beginning of time.  They’re willful and stubborn.  They can’t control a whole lot in their lives (especially their emotions), except what they want to wear and what they want to eat.  There is nothing “wrong” with them that needs to be fixed by a psychologist or doctor.

Wouldn’t that be just so much easier for us?

Alas, this is Life.  This is Parenthood.  This is what being Almost-5 is about.  This is nothing new.  Medieval mothers in Europe dealt with the same little Pains In The Asses that we deal with today.

Merek, I begeth thee to PLEASE don thoust frock right this minute!!!!
Merek, We begeth thee to PLEASE don thoust frock right this minute!!!! “No!  I Shan’t wear it!!!”.

These are the experiences that make us a Family and Human.  Which means, that after mornings like this, you cuddle in bed together and show each other how much you love each other and what might help things go more smoothly tomorrow, and then you get up the next morning and try again.

And then someday, when he’s twenty and perfectly normal and healthy, and brings his girlfriend home from college, you take out his two pairs of pants from when he was 4-and-a-half and you tell the story of him lying sprawled out on the kitchen floor in his underwear every morning before school screaming, “I want to wear my roll-up pants”.

Aaaahhhh….sweet, sweet revenge.  Someday you’ll be mine.

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