Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Today's Post

I've had maybe half a dozen posts in my head today.

There's the Iran post. Isn't this deja vu all over again? The president seems determined not to learn from his mistakes, and this shit makes me CRAZY.

There's the conference update post. E's conference was, as predicted, lovely. M's was fine too--we walked into her history teacher's room, he said "I think she needs a challenge," and we said "oh, you are so insightful, that would be great." I also told the math teacher about my substitute concerns. She told me to tell the guidance counselor. He told me to tell the assistant principal. He nodded sympathetically and non-committally, though he did admit the school's fault in not notifying parents of the original teacher's long-term absence. Ah, bureaucracy.

Then there's the Hanukkah-so-far post. Last night's present was computer games (fashion design for M; Spanish and French adventures for E) which were a theoretical hit, but posed some practical problems. M set up on my computer, which took forever, and E set up on the girls' computer, which wouldn't load the game, so E ended up going to bed in tears for the second night in a row. But today she is getting double screen time and all is well. This morning's present (when S works at night we give presents in the morning when he is home, though we still light candles at night) was Town flannel pajama pants, the plaid ones the girls' hockey team and every girl in middle school wears. M had actually asked for these, to my great annoyance, as I'd already decided to give them to her, so she was thrilled and went off to school in them. E at first said she was NOT going to wear them to school because they were PAJAMAS, but then she did.

OK, what else, oh, there's the two-career family/cultural history/Maslow's hierarchy post, but I think I'll hold off on that one.

And then there's the post I'm actually going to write : the one about kids' clothes. Dawn has been writing about trying to find clothes for Madison, and my friend A was talking about this recently too. They have big daughters (sorry, Dawn, you've written yourself out of any more handmedowns, because it sounds like Madison is as big as E) who don't fit into the current styles. I have tiny daughters who, until recently, barely fit into the current styles either.

M couldn't wear Lands End, Gap, or Target--you've never seen anything as ridiculous as the waistband of a pair of leggings gaping around a little girl's waist. Eventually we discovered Old Navy Slim, the ones with the elastic and the buttons, and with the elastic pulled to the last button, her pants barely stayed up. But finding her pants was a constant problem.

I'm not trying to chime in that thin kids have it tough too--on the one hand they do, but on the other hand to have it tough because your body is at the extreme end of a culturally approved norm is completely different from, well, the opposite (kind of like the white people can be discriminated against, but it's not racism thing) (kind of).

Actually, what interested me as I thought about Dawn's post was standardization, and its impetus, industrialization. 100, 200 years ago, neither Dawn nor I would have had these problems because we would have been measuring our daughters and making clothes that fit their exact bodies (if we were rich, other people would have done the sewing; if we'd been poor, our kids would have worn whatever we could scrounge, regardless of size). Now we have been freed from this labor of fitting the clothes to our daughter, but instead we have to do the work of fitting our daughters to the clothes.

Usually I think about the inadequacy of standardization in terms of education: no one educational system works for every kid; age- and grade-based standards and benchmarks neglect the fact that every kid develops at her own rate; etc. But it's interesting to think about the myriad ways we have been standardized (Big Mac, anyone? McMansion?). And then, of course, there's the fact that standardization also generates choices, so we can spend hours on websites exploring different clothing options, or make excruciating educational choices between Waldorf, Montessori, KIPP, International Baccalaureate, ad infinitum, not to mention plain old one-size-fits-all public school.

I won't wax grandiose about the benefits and costs of industrialization and standardization--that's too predictable. It's just interesting to see one more area in which it's played out. And it's interesting too that when I went back to Dawn's post for the link, several people had offered to sew clothes for Madison.


Dawn said...

Well I *DID* say my girly could kick your girly's ass and I wasn't kidding. Plus that raincoat she's wearing in the second picture? Look familiar? Yeah, that's E's and yeah it barely fits. (What size is it? I can't remember.) All the t-shirts you sent last year? Pajamas because they don't fit to be seen in public.

I'm taking up the offers people made of sewing her some clothes. And then I went ahead and what the hell got her another hanna dress and pants 'cuz those fit for so damn long. It's those cuffs!! They're baggy until they're tight leggings and she can wear 'em for a good year.

And, of course, this is an essay for somewhere but I can't think of where so it might as well be a blog!

jackie said...

My Lucy needs belts for most of her pants too-- she is still most comfortable in a size 4, even though she is 5.5, but finding khaki pants with no decorations or trim (uniform) in a size four is difficult. She has one size 5 pair she calls her "slippy" pants because when she tries to run in them, they slip off.