A few years ago, I found myself standing in the boys’ department of Kohl’s with my then 14- year-old son. We were shopping for a homecoming outfit for the upcoming dance.
Or, excuse me, HoCo clothing. (Because the cool kids say “HoCo.” Obvi.) We soon realized that he’d outgrown the sizes in the boy’s department and, from the look on his face when I told him we had to head to the men’s department, you’d think I had just asked him to drink bleach. We ran into another mom I know with her son in the men’s pants department and they were suffering through the same hell that is buying a teenaged boy pants he doesn’t want to wear ever, much less along with a starched shirt, tie and shoes that pinch his feet.
As we both rooted through the stacks of pants, the boys stood there, hands jammed in their shorts, Nike shoes untied.
We asked them about styles.
We asked them about colors.
We asked them about pant length.
They answered with grunts, shoulder shrugs and eye rolls.
We sent them into the dressing room together and, when my son came out, I said, “How do those pants feel? Can you dance in them, do you think?”
From the recesses of the dressing room, his friend moaned, “Omg, there’s dancing? What is even my life right now?”
And that’s pretty much how every shopping trip has gone with my son: he would tolerate exactly 15 minutes of shopping and we would purchase the same three items: hoodies, jeans, and sneakers. There was no deviation from the wardrobe plan. Ever. And I always had to bribe him with ice cream or a giant hamburger at his favorite restaurant afterward.
Until a few weeks ago, that is.
During breakfast, my son casually mentioned he was going to go shopping with a friend. One of his girlfriends had convinced him to go to the mall with her as she did a little school shopping.
He’d recently cleaned up his quarantine mane and beard and said he wanted to get some clothing that reflected his “new style.”
Yes, the perpetual wearer of hoodies and scuffed Nikes said “new style,” ladies and gentlemen.
When he arrived home from his shopping spree, he was loaded down with bags and shoe boxes and he couldn’t wait to show me his purchases.
He didn’t just buy clothes, mind you. He bought outfits. And he’d coordinated several shoe purchases with the flannels and fitted button-down shirts he’d found.
He bought hipster jeans, in a multitude of colors.
And he paid for his shopping spree with the money that he’d saved from a summer of mowing lawns and working at a local doughnut shop.
All I could think of was the scene in Can’t Buy Me Love, when one of the cheerleaders says, “He went from totally geek to totally chic,” about the main character’s overnight transformation.
We’ve come a long way from the kid who was whining in a dressing room about having to wear a starched shirt to the homecoming dance, baby. And, if I didn’t know better, I’d swear that E.T. and his extraterrestrial friends are holding my hoodie-clad son on a spaceship on Mars.
Teen Boy, New Style
My son has become a fashionista and I am unable to even. Seemingly overnight, my son has actually started caring about his appearance. He sheepishly admitted to me that the prospect of heading off to college next year made him think about how he’d like to present himself to his new community.
And that he realized wearing a hoodie four days in a row probably isn’t the best foot forward when it comes to getting a college girlfriend.
Glory be and holy hallelujah, my prayers have been answered! Well, at least with respect to his worn Nike sneakers with holes in the toes and the pairs of jeans that I’ve washed to threadbare status because he’s refused to buy a new pair.
The best part?
He’s cleaned out his drawers and closet to make room for his “new style.”
I’m telling you: aliens must be involved. It’s the only explanation.
But, for all of the changes in his wardrobe, and for all of the joy it brings me to see him evolving his appearance, forgive me if I sneak a few of his hoodies out of the donation pile.
I’m going to need something to snuggle in next year when he’s off wearing his fancy clothes in college.