Long long ago, before I had kids, before I was even entertaining the IDEA of kids, I went clothes shopping with my sister-in-law. SIL is the kind of person who can talk you into spending your mortgage payment on a skirt you'll wear maybe once, or maybe not even once. So ordinarily a shopping trip with SIL is a super fun time. Except we were shopping for kids' clothes. Specifically, t-shirts with pictures of bugs on the front, the uglier the better. "Conner is into bugs right now," she informed me, whipping through the clearance rack at the GAP.
I took this to be her explanation even though I had no idea what she was talking about. Bugs? REALISTIC bugs? SIL is cute and stylish and she was looking for pictures of insects in size 3T? I didn't get it. My child-free senses were offended and grossed out. As I gingerly rummaged through graphic tee after graphic tee, I resolved never to be the kind of mother who would let her child wear bugs on his front. Or Elmo. Or construction equipment. Or Disney princesses. Or anything, really, that was not tasteful and clean and made the old ladies say, "Look! How ADORABLE!"
Fast forward four or five years and take a gander at my kid zooming around the house in his Thomas the Tank Engine t-shirt (a hand-me-down from his cousins, natch) with bits of lunch stuck to the front. In the last several weeks my boy has taken a shine to trains, specifically "Thomas Twain." It started with the arrival of OnDemand in our house. (Have you SEEN all the kids' shows? Not that I let my kid watch more than three minutes of television a day, ahem.) Then his grandparents found his dad's old train set in a box upstairs and set up a simple track in their living room. There are railroad tracks along the waterfront in Seattle, and when we were at the beach for a picnic, a moment of reverence was required each time a train blew through. He sings "chugga chugga CHOO CHOOOO!" as he's falling asleep for his naps and last night we remembered that a former coworker had gifted us with her son's old train set last year, a genuine Thomas toy that would set us back at least another mortgage payment. My little boy could hardly stand it as his dad was fussing with the pieces. "THOMAS!" he shouted gleefully. "It's THOMAS TWAIN!"
So when I decided to get him a little backpack for our first plane trip, I didn't think twice about buying the Thomas backpack. I have willingly -- no, CHEERFULLY and EXCITEDLY -- bent to his every train-related whim. And when I found that Thomas shirt in a giant box from SIL, I couldn't wait to show it to him. It's old. It's commercial. It's not even cute. But when Jack saw that t-shirt his smile went as wide as it could go. There was Thomas, his one true love, and he could WEAR Thomas on his tummy? SIGN HIM UP!
The bugs on t-shirts…I think I get it now.