As usual, you didn’t read the fine print on the bushel of papers that came home with you younger child the first day of kindergarten. There was, apparently, some Important List buried in the papers, and the Important List (which might have accidentally been recycled or worse, cavalierly thrown in the trash) detailed all the things that he needed to bring with him, things like school supplies, party money, hand sanitizer, snacks.
And an emergency outfit.
You completely missed the section about the emergency outfit.
The Angel Teacher, who herself is Minnie Mouse incarnate (in the most flattering way—all huggy and smiley and encouraging and everything you would want your child’s kindergarten teacher to be) sends you a helpful reminder note:
“Dr. MOV” (apparently your child has shared the tidbit that he believes you are, in fact, a doctor because you wear scrubs to work every day) “Your child still needs his emergency outfit. Please send it tomorrow if possible.” Three smiley faces follow, each in watermelon-red teacher ink.
Even though you had somehow blocked out the crucialness and requiredness of the emergency outfit, this was not actually your first exposure to it. Of course your older son had been through kindergarten and first grade and needed to provide the emergency outfit for those classes. And, truth be told, even preschool had requested the emergency outfit.
Here is what happens with the emergency outfit: As a newish mommy, you realize this is your golden opportunity to not only shine but put on the strobe light and sparkling disco ball and show the teacher what a style maven you are in regards to choosing clothing for your child. You might select (if you put the necessary thought into it, and why wouldn’t you?!) apparel from a trendy store like Gap Kids or Janie and Jack. Pants would be linen. Shirt would be ironed. Sweater would be embroidered with sailboats or vintage cars or both. Socks and undies (with appropriate self-esteem-building super-heroes) would be new. Shoes would be preppy. Your selected emergency outfit could pretty much qualify as a very expensive Christmas gift for your nephew or your best friend’s son. The outfit is 2% practicality, and 153% impress-the-teacher.
This is precisely the right emergency outfit if the emergency falls on, say, picture day.
The cuter the outfit, the more likely it will never see the (primary colors and weather stickers) light of day. That child of yours who spills grape juice on everything within a five-mile-radius on the weekends? Pristine at school. The kid who gets a bloody nose in his sleep every other day at home? Not a drop of blood on him, ever, at school. The one who takes a dark green Sharpie permanent marker and writes backwards numbers like some kind of gang symbols on his jeans for fun? Sternly parrots the teacher’s words “At school, we do not allow drawing on clothes.”
The emergency outfit mocks you in June when it is handed back, still hermetically sealed in its oversized Ziplock bag. When you take the outfit out and fluff it up, you actually hear it guffaw and say, “This is three sizes too small now! Ha!” Additionally, the sweater cackles and shrieks with glee, “And even though I still have my original tags, guess what—moth holes!”
You picture the emergency outfit sitting in a dark cupboard with 24 of its best emergency-outfit friends, staring longingly at the Play-Doh and wishing for a finger-painting mishap or at the very least, a glitter explosion.
And then like a police light flashing in your brain when you are driving, an idea comes to you: You decide that YOU need an emergency outfit. Your outfit would be tailored khaki pants and a freshly dry-cleaned black cashmere sweater over a new white shirt from Nordstrom. Socks would be cotton and shoes would be shined. You briefly toy with assembling an outfit like this and keeping it in your car if you ever had a strange situation arise where you were far away from home and couldn’t get to a much-needed change of clothes for whatever mysterious reason.
Yes, the idea of the emergency outfit lodges in your brain, like the parking ticket you forgot to pay six months ago, but that is still on your bookshelf by the printer in your study. The idea patiently sits there, waiting for you to notice it and remember it and do something about it.
You know, however, (sadly you know) that if you ever DID put together such an outfit in your car, the one time you would go to use it, you would hear it say,
“This is three sizes too small now! Ha!”