Marla Jo Fisher
Late at night, I like to gather my children around me and tell them stories from the old days, back when guys wore belts to hold up their pants.
I have to explain the concept of belts, of course, and that pants also used to fit around the waist, which prevented them from sliding down guys’ hips until they reached the earth’s volcanic core.
Nowadays, as our 11-year-old friend Nico explains, boys must keep their hands in their pockets at all times to hold up their pants, since they are no longer fitted and belts can be found only in museums.
This has its advantages. Boys with their hands permanently immobilized in their pockets can’t wipe grimy paws on my clean towels. They can’t smack their sisters nor leave a dirty palm print on the wall.
Over the past year, Cheetah Boy’s pants have fallen lower and lower on his hips, as if he were some poor starvation victim whose clothes are falling off him. But, of course, all that’s happening is that he is refusing to wear any bottoms that don’t display the tops of his boxers.
This just shows how much impact I’ve had on my kid’s thinking. For years, I used to constantly point out “fashion victims,” guys who were so obsessed with this gangster style that their pants actually fell down, or who had to hold their crotch as they ran, lest they trip over their falling pants and go head over heels.
Back in those days, we would all laugh at how silly these guys were, and how pathetic that they would allow their need to be trendy to interfere with the actual functioning of their lives.
When Cheetah Boy, now 14, first started letting his underwear show, I fought back.
We had Normandy-sized battles over his need to show plaid, i.e. the plaid designs of his cotton boxer shorts. Eventually, though, he wore me down with his persistent refusal to follow my rules.
So I gave up.
Amazingly, my surrender in the Battle of the Droopy Drawers became a clever strategy, instead of pathetic weakness. I read a slew of books about parenting teenagers, all of which advised me to pick my battles, and not to get into power struggles over fashion statements.
As long as my son is getting decent grades and has good behavior in other ways, I just decided not to care how ridiculous I think he looks.
Some of my friends have been shocked about this, as if I have suddenly become a traitor to parenthood itself. Maybe in their minds, I should be thrown in the stocks and flogged for high crimes and treason against other moms and dads.
“But, Marla, this style started in prison. Because the guys can’t wear belts in there. It’s a prison style,” one friend argued. But as long as my kid is not in prison, I don’t much care.
Even the cafeteria lady at school was laughing at Cheetah Boy and singing “Pants on the ground” to him one day when they were particularly egregious, according to his sister, who was a reliable witness.
But when I start questioning my decision, I remember what I wore when I was a teenager.
The skirts that were so ridiculously short that, if I dropped a pencil, I had to just keep walking, because there was no way I could pick it up without flashing everyone behind me.
The white lipstick that made me look like a corpse. The boyfriends with shaggy hair that drove their parents insane. The hot pants.
The hot pants.
Hmm, suddenly the low-rider shorts don’t seem so bad after all.
Marla Jo Fisher was a workaholic before she adopted two foster kids several years ago. Now she juggles work and single parenting, while being exhorted from everywhere to be thinner, smarter, sexier, healthier, more frugal, a better mom, better dressed and a tidier housekeeper. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read her blog