Fashion is pain.

Little Sister Envy

by doodaddy on February 1, 2010

The neighborhood 5-year old, whom Fern worships like the full-sentence-writing goddess she is, was nonetheless the topic of a complaint yesterday.

“She says I can’t have that dress because she still fits in it.”

Just another parenting moment, right? And a million lessons present themselves:

Graciousness. “Neighbor girl gives you a dress or a toy pretty much every time she sees you. Selfish, she’s not.”

Simplicity. “You already have so many nice dresses, you really don’t need another one.”

Pragmatism, even: “Neighbor girl is growing like kelp. You will probably have a shot at the desired dress within, oh, say, a week.”

But what I say is this:

“You like hand-me downs?”

Because she does, she thirsts for other people’s clothing.

Not me, man. Maybe it’s because I’m a younger child, so hand-me-downs are less to be savored as to be suffered. Or maybe because as a boy I never engaged in that typical pastime of female siblings: the sisterhood of sharing clothes.

But for Fern, the very thought of getting a dress from some other girl — some big girl — fills her with glee. She’s always been the bigger girl, the older girl, so naturally she loves the idea of being a little “sister.” Oh, and more simply: she likes stuff.

And, as the person assigned to organizing the ever-growing tide of clothing (and Fern will call every single piece “special” and she’ll tell you why), I’m just the slightest bit scared.

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in clothing,friends,housework,stuff ·

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Susanna February 3, 2010 at 9:04 pm

Because childhood was only about ten years ago for me, maybe I can shed some light as to why Fern covets her friend’s wardrobe?

I remember that as a kid I LOVED getting hand-me-downs from my best friend (who was actually the same age as me). My affluent parents were bewildered, because they had both suffered hand-me-downs as children and hated it, and as the eldest child I need never have had hand-me-downs at all, yet here I was actively going looking for them.

The basic idea behind it is that when I put on my friend’s clothes, it was like some of her coolness was rubbing off on me. Plus, wearing your friend’s clothes just makes you feel closer to them, because if you’re with your best friend and then another kid comes by, you get to boast “I’m wearing his/her shirt! We’re best friends!” and it kinda excludes the other kid from your little circle of friendship. If I was a psych major I’d go the full nine yards and say the behavior is due to the subconscious desire to get inside their “skin” but I think I’ll just leave it at: wanting to emulate the person you like in a very basic way; by wearing their clothes.


doodaddy February 10, 2010 at 3:30 pm

Oooh, that last part sounds all serial-killery. I choose to believe it’s more that she really likes stuff…

mom, again February 4, 2010 at 6:05 pm

also, in her child’s point of view, her ownership of the clothes of bigger girls means she acquires the virtue of big girlness via magic osmosis.


doodaddy February 10, 2010 at 3:31 pm

It’s not that uncommon for her to put on all her little sister’s clothes, too. Ambivalent much?

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