The hubs shook his head when I told him I wanted a pair of Uggs for my birthday. He was diligent and went and even checked them out. I wanted the sweater kind, and he located them in the one store that carries them (Dick's Sporting Goods--can you believe it?). He wasn't sure that I really wanted them, because they seemed flimsy and impractical for our snowy winters here. He got me a gift card so I could get what I wanted, even though he didn't understand it. I ran to the store as soon as I could and purchased them. They were unbelievably on sale, and I ended up getting them for more than 40% off the retail price. All proud of the savings, I showed the hubs the boots. He just shook his head and said, "They just seem pricy."
Normally, I am not a big label shopper. There are some brands I like, and some that I consider luxuries. Ironically, the hubs prefers certain brands (like Brooks Brothers and J. Crew), but he buys so much less stuff than I do that he can justify the expense. I often look at the name brands and sometimes even salivate a little. For instance, there is part of me that really wants a Coach purse, but there is another part of me that thinks it is ridiculous to spend that amount.
For the kids, because they are growing, I'm even less likely to buy them name brand stuff. I cannot see paying $30 for one pair of sweatpants for Jake, just because they are Addidas. But on the other hand, I remember when I was a kid and how much I wanted all the name brand items like my friends had. I had a friend who had Sassoon jeans in nursery school. I was green with envy. My mother told me I could get designer jeans when she could find them at Filene's Bargain Basement. My first pair of "designer" jeans were Calvin Klein, and I bought them for myself after I was married. I bought them at Sam's Club. In grade school, I wanted the Reeboks in all the colors (I did have one pair of black and turquoise). I wanted the Swatch watches. When I got to high school, I wanted to shop at Express.
I've been waiting for this with my kids. I went to Catholic school, so I wore a uniform every day. I don't know if that made the clothing envy better or worse. I expected, especially with Sophia, that she would look at what her friends have and want the same thing. So far (fingers crossed), she likes what she likes. She likes sparkles and ruffles and animals. She pretty much likes what is in her closet that I have gotten for her. Some of her favorite outfits are hand-me-downs that came from who knows where. She likes to coordinate and look pretty and sparkly. Other than that, her requirements are slim. I have taken her to Justice to shop. I like the store because they have pants that fit her (she is super long and skinny). She likes the glitz. Actually, she likes all the crap in the store more than the clothes. She is just as content with the sparkly clothes from Target.
Jake likes sweat pants and t-shirts. As long as they are not too big, he is content. He is also an almost-10-year-old boy, so matching and coordination do not always come naturally, but he really tries. I have to bargain and barter with him to wear dress-up clothes. He HATES shirts with collars that button. He loves turtlenecks. He is occasionally tolerant of polo-style shirts. His motto is comfort.
So, here's the thing. Jake has a diagnosis of autism. It is mild, and pretty much everyone agrees that it doesn't really fit him, but nothing else does either. But it is his label, to help him get services. Somedays, I can see that he sort of fits. Somedays, not so much. He does have sensory issues, which is why he doesn't like the collared shirts. I think buttons were challenging for him for so long that he doesn't want to do them. He likes the snug feel of the turtlenecks and footie pajamas. He won't wear socks with a hole, and cannot stand if his clothes get even a little wet. These are all not uncommon with people with autism. So other than how the clothes FEEL, Jake has never cared about how he looked.
He asked if I could get him a pair of Nike sneakers for Christmas. Frankly, his sneakers are his only pair of shoes, and they're pretty worn out since he wears them all day every day. He complained that I never get him Nike (which is true, because they're not really supportive, which he needs). He told me that EVERYONE in his class wears Nike and he feels that he looks like an "idiot" because he doesn't have the right brand of shoes. He did clarify that no one has called him that, but he just feels different because his sneakers are different.
Hold the phone. This is my kid who is not supposed to be tuned into that sort of thing. But he TOTALLY is. He wants Nike sneakers because his friends have them. It is just a regular kid thing to want.
So, even though I'm done shopping, I took him out today to get his sneakers. I made him try on other brands so he could feel the difference, and he still wanted the Nike. We found a decent pair (at only the second store). I didn't care the price. Ok, I did a little bit, but he needs something to wear on his feet right now. He is pleased as punch that he has his Nike sneakers and can't wait to bring them to school after break. He is happy that he has his name-brand shoes, just like all his friends.
This is just another reminder to me not to limit Jake based upon his label. No label fits him.
Well, other than super-awesome.