Conformity at Four


Is conformity starting younger these days?

I need advice because there’s an excellent chance I’ll lose my mind if the insanity continues.

Conformity at Four

The Story

Let me relay to you the saga of the ORANGE PANTS, then for the love of Pete, please comment. Please tell me it’s a phase or give me some tools to get through this because I acknowledge that I need a hand with this one.

For Christmas, our four year old received a handsome new pair of burnt orange corduroy pants. He hadn’t worn them yet, so yesterday, I packed them in our gym bag for him to put on after swim lessons.

So far, so good. He took his shower, then I took the cords out of the bag. He said immediately that he didn’t want to wear them. I patiently explained that these were the cool new pants he got for Christmas. He not-so-patiently explained that he wasn’t going to wear them.

We had given up our family shower room at the YMCA to another family by this point, so he was sitting on a bench in the locker room, wearing only a towel. I tried another tack. “Well, you may choose these pants or soaking wet swim trunks.”

He earnestly thought about it. (It’s January in Colorado.)

The Absurdity

Finally, he slid his perfect little legs into those darling little pants and started sobbing. Sobbing. Seriously. It was ridiculous.

He said he wanted to wear blue jeans to his afternoon pre-k class, like the other kids. Or that his gray pants would do in a pinch. But not those orange pants. “All the kids wear blue jeans or pink pants,” he pleaded.

Walking to the car from the pool, he walked directly behind me or in front of me, stepping on my feet and tripping me, crying when I moved to the side. Finally, I asked what in the world he was doing and he said he was hiding so that no one would see him in those pants.

Driving home, he touched them. He decided they were interesting and soft – that he liked the feel of them. But that he simply couldn’t bear the color. Come on, kid! We live in Colorado. Those are Broncos colors!

I heard about those pants for two more hours. Begging. Rationalizing. Demanding. At one point, he tried to kick me, he was so upset about those pants. A few minutes before school, I caved. I didn’t want to subject his teachers and friends to the lunacy.

Now look. I’m all for letting kids have some say in their lives. In making choices. Our youngest has always had a mind of his own and strong opinions. I probably would have let him change right away if he had said he didn’t like the texture or if they didn’t fit comfortably. No big deal. It was the REASON he didn’t want to wear those slacks that still bothers me: That the other kids wear blue jeans.

I like to think our boys are fairly well adjusted. I think their classmates are, too. For the most part, they’re terrific kids who seem to have genuine affection for each other. So, I simply don’t understand this need to conform at four years old.

The Request

This reverts to my original appeal. Please help me understand. Is this what I have to look forward to for the next 14 years? Should I take a stand and force the stubborn lad to wear the offending leg coverings or gracefully accept defeat and give them away to charity? Or (gulp) is the kid right – should orange corduroys have been retired as a 70s relic? 🙂


    • Thanks, Crystal! We’re at the library at least once a week — I’ll put that book on hold to pick up next time we’re there… 🙂

  1. Dear Ashley,
    Ron and I think you should retire those orange cords. We both have bad memories of wearing a few choice clothes that our mom insisted we wore as kids….sixty years later! Give in on this one, there will be more important things coming your way. Our son used to love reading “Sometimes Even Mommies Make Mistakes.”

  2. Judy… Breaks my heart a little for two reasons: 1. I actually like the pants 2. It would mean acknowledging that our little guys don’t need my guidance and help as much as they used to. 🙁 But you’re right that it’s small potatoes in the big picture.

  3. Great story, Ashley.
    My 16 year old has been very particular about his clothing for as long as I can remember (all the way back to 4 y/o Superman pj’s). Now it’s flannel shirts and boots. What can I do…. I’d just be happy if he’d iron the shirt. Sometimes I wonder if it’s more self identity than conformity, and a little independence is a good thing?

  4. When I was a kid -60 plus years ago–all the girls that I ran around with wore blue jeans with zippers in front. My mother always bought me jeans with side zippers. I hated that that made me different! LOL!!

  5. Deane,

    Thanks for the perspective. I suppose it would bother me less if he wanted to wear something crazy every day. I would see that as developing his individuality. 😉 My issue is that he is seeking to be THE SAME as everyone else. Ugh. Here’s hoping he starts worrying more about what HE likes very soon…

  6. Love the blog, Ashley. It brought back a memory of many Christmases ago in Minneapolis. I was excited to give a darling little blond haired girl a gift that I felt sure was the height of fashion. Unfortunately she was less than thrilled. But seriously, what child doesn’t want a floor length, QUILTED, paisley skirt? I realize now that socks, or underwear, or even a lump of coal would have been more exciting. I bet your Mom never made you wear that hideous garment.
    Auntie Roz xoxo

    • Roz… Oh! My! Gosh! I remember that skirt. 🙂 It was beautiful and I cried because I was expecting a toy. What a little turkey I was! Gosh. Thanks for reminding me. And (because I clearly neglected to tell you at the time) THANK YOU for the full length, quilted skirt. I did happily wear it!

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