As a mother, there are few times when I have been truly proud of my accomplishments. I am usually too racked with guilt to feel like I'm doing all that great of a job. However, I am proud of the fact that I have turned my boy into a bona fide picky weirdo. That's all my doing, yes. While Mike could certainly be classified as a "weirdo" he has not mastered the art of being picky as well as I have. And now the boy is following in my footsteps--can I help but be proud of what I have created?
Holden's education in weirdness and pickiness pretty much began when he was born. Though I didn't really realize it, I was setting him on a life-long path of fastidiousness. For one thing, he was too "weird" and "picky" to sleep at night (See Nine Moments in the Life of a Teacher for more painful details). He was also too picky to ever drink from a bottle or eat jars of baby food. Melted chocolate was his food of preference (a chip off the ol' block, no?). Occasionally he would consume the noodles of my campbells soup, eat popcorn seeds, or suck on the strap of his "Baby Bjorn," but that was about it. He was weird and picky even in his infancy.
This continued as he began to be very choosy over his wardrobe: cowboy boots, aqua socks, canvas keds, Italian leather loafers--nothing would suit him except for his "ip shoes" from Payless. For the uninitiated, 'ip" really means "zip" and Payless is a place where you can buy shoes for your children that will last about two weeks. I had a real problem. With his "ip" shoes breaking every few weeks, I had to buy them in every size just to keep Holden, and his fickle feet, happy. (Pickiness--maybe even a little bit of dimentia--at it's finest.)
And worse than the shoe issue is the sweatpants issue. The kid will wear nothing but the softest velour sweats on his legs. Try to put him in jeans--I dare you. I implore you. It's not so easy to stuff a screaming, squirming two-year-old into a pair of Levis.
At this point, I really have to stop and take a little bit of credit for this. When I was young, I would not wear jeans, either; I would only wear dresses. It was not a "girly" thing: I didn't feel the need to dress like a princess every day or wear pink-and-purple-flowered skirts, although I did love that kind of thing, I won't lie to you. No, it was nothing that normal. Indeed, it was because I HATED the way pants felt on my legs. My sisters and mother used to try to hold me down and force my chubby stubs into jeans, but, with determination topped only by my own son, I would not allow it. We finally compromised with "my knits," which followed the same principle as sweatpants (but of course, sweatpants weren't invented yet) in their supple texture and lack of "pleats," the culprit in the great "I hate pants" campaign. What would I wear to my first day of kindergarten? Why, my knits, of course! With my knits, I had a new lease on life: my side-saddle days were over.
In addition to my knits, I also insisted on wearing "my fongs" (you modern folk would call them "flip-flops" or "thongs") for an entire summer. By the end of June, they stunk to high heaven. My sisters and mother would search the house, baffled by their inability to find the source of the smell. Finally, they discovered that it was actually MY FEET and my FONGS that were so rancid. Much like Holden's "ip" shoes, my "fongs" weren't goin' nowhere: nobody could separate us. It got so bad that I had to sit in the very back of our station wagon while my mom and sisters rode with their heads out the window, gasping for fresh air.
So, you can see that my son's pickiness had its beginnings in my own troubled past. I consider it a good trait, however, his fickleness. He's a man of discriminating taste, which is more than I can say for a lot of people out there--those who listen to Mariah Carey, for example. Who knows, maybe he'll grow up to be a food critic or, even better, the host of TLC's "What Not To Wear." A mother can dream, can't she?