According to Charlie, my now 7-year-old son, there are only two types of clothes in this world: Sports Pants and Handsome Clothes. Handsome Clothes are rotten. They have zippers and buttons; they’re itchy and not nearly soft enough. Sports clothes, on the other hand, are the bomb. Charlie’s drawers are filled with polyester sports clothes in every neon color and athletic brand conceivable. He wears Messi jerseys, UnderArmour hoodies and shirts that say things like “Bring it!” He looks like he’s warming up for NFL training camp when he walks out the door for school.

His transformation to Sports Guy is complete, along with every other boy in his grade. But I remember when he only had two accidental pairs of sports pants, and he wore them every day.

I bought each of the kids a pair of $5 polyester pants at Target as a quick cover up to dart between the pool and the car during winter swimming lessons in Wisconsin. Charlie was disappointed when his got too small; thankfully, he grew right into Madeline’s pair, which were the exact same color and style, but two sizes larger. He alternated between those pants and the Puma tracksuit that was a hand-me-down from a neighbor, putting them on almost every single day, despite the giant hole in the knee that got bigger and bigger. One morning, when he came downstairs dressed for school wearing his sports pants (of course), I asked where he found them, knowing they were dirty and I hadn’t seen them come through the wash yet. He answered proudly that they were under his bed. How resourceful! I often wonder what his teachers think….but then I realize they probably understand the mind of a young boy pretty well.

Charlie loves these pants so much that when we went to Paris, we didn’t even realize until the end of our second night that his suitcase was still sitting in Luxembourg. He sleeps in his underwear and wears the same clothes everyday. Puma pants four days in a row!!! A dream come true.

I have a dresser and closet full of beautiful clothes for the little guy. Chinos in three colors, multiple pairs of khakis, blue jeans and cords — he has twice what he needs because I bought ahead in the States to prepare for the high European prices. Now they’re crammed into a single bin labeled “Handsome Clothes,” only to be opened on picture day and Christmas Eve. I’ve tried to come up with sports pant-alternatives — cute sweats from JCrew, fleece pants from Zara. Nope. They sit untouched unless it’s an absolute emergency.


When I was a little girl, I had two dresses that I would alternate. I called them my little twirling dresses — one was yellow and one was purple. They were my favorites and I wore them almost every day. Now I understand what that must have been like for my mom. No doubt she had a drawer full of other darling outfits that I shunned during that phase…..

And that’s just what it is. A phase. I’m trying to see the humor in it, praise my boy for getting dressed all by himself, and wait patiently for the day that he wears something other than polyester!

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