Before the days when I became bogged down with housework, mortgages and print deadlines, I was young, spotty and obsessed with pedal pushers. Oh, how things change.
As a child, the smallest things become incredibly important – if you don’t have fish fingers on Thursday nights (like you always do) the world might shift on its axis, or if your yellow socks are not clean to wear at the weekend then your feet will erupt in pustulating hives, rendering you unable to walk for the rest of your life.
The tantrums that ensue reflect these cataclysmic possibilities and your parents slip into a state of such nervous tension that looking into their eyes is like staring into the very pits of hell.
Of course, when you are young, you don’t notice the affect it is having on your parents. Banging on at every opportunity about wanting a pair of green corduroy pedal pushers and/or a hamster who you will promise to look after, a child is incapable of seeing that actually it is incredibly tedious and painful to have to live through.
When they are babies, we can put an adult sock on their heads or pop them in a padded envelope to keep warm, take photographs of them for future blackmail use and for general embarrassment in front of their girl/boyfriends. We’ve all done that, haven’t we? And we could dress them in cute outfits, funny babygrows and seasonal pumpkin costumes, complete with hat, for our own entertainment and amusement. But as soon as that strong will sets in and they can get dressed by themselves, it all changes.
My own children have all had their own, shall I say, idiosyncrasies when it comes to dressing. My son was best known for his eccentric dress sense as a pre-schooler, preferring pyjamas and a policeman’s helmet to the more conventional T-shirt and trousers combination. And my youngest daughter has in the past insisted that all her clothes are unwearable apart from a tatty pair of jogging bottoms and a threadbare top. This outfit had to be churned out for every occasion, whether it be a walk along the beach, or my mother’s 70th birthday party.
But, nervous breakdown aside, for children these things are really important. And as the teenage years approach, the issue of clothes becomes particularly salient. Perfectly wearable and suitable clothes are stuffed at the back of the wardrobe, rendered ‘Yuk, not cool, can’t wear that’. And as they get older there is very little you can do about it.
The importance of wearing skinny jeans (no other style will do) or trousers that hang below the buttocks, revealing your pants, becomes more essential than homework, GCSE options or the new series of Dr Who.
But I have learned in the nearly-14-years of parenthood that I have endured that sometimes it is just not worth fighting the clothing wars. As long as they are covered up appropriately, are just about warm enough, and are in no way endangering themselves with ill-placed scarves that might garrotte them at the earliest opportunity whilst tree climbing, so what? It’s only themselves they are embarrassing with their pants on show, not me, finally resplendent with my retro pedal pushers.