We have serious issues with clothing, socks in particular.  It’s not for lack of purchasing new socks, or insufficient supply of hand-me down socks.  It’s more an issue of having 5 children who couldn’t care less how they look, who live on a farm and play hard, who would prefer to be barefoot, or at least shoeless most of the time, and who are notorious for losing their good socks and somehow managing to keep up with only the ones that have seen better days (perhaps they are throwing the good ones in the trash?).  In any case, as we sat down for some family time last night, I couldn’t help but notice my children’s feet:

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Need a better look to see what I’m talking about?

4-yr-old A, wearing socks that appear a little too big for him, but otherwise OK.

4-yr-old A, wearing socks that appear a little too big for him, but otherwise OK.  Notice the shirt collar he has stretched out though.  Also, notice S’s work-around-the-farm pants, which consist of patches and duct tape.  

6-yr-old M, wearing one normal sock and one sock that clearly should've been trashed weeks ago.  Then again, at least, she has a sock on each foot.....

6-yr-old M, wearing one normal sock and one sock that clearly should’ve been trashed weeks ago. Then again, at least, she has a sock on each foot…..and one to spare, apparently, hanging under one foot.  I have no idea where that came from.  Maybe it’s N’s?

4-yr-old N, wearing one sock.  He had two on the last time I saw him.  Amazingly, it totally disappeared somewhere between when I saw him upstairs, and when he arrived at the couch downstairs.

4-yr-old N, wearing one sock. He had two on the last time I saw him. Amazingly, it totally disappeared somewhere between when I saw him upstairs, and when he arrived at the couch downstairs.

2-yr-old R, clearly discovered some spare socks laying around somewhere.

2-yr-old R, clearly discovered some spare socks laying around somewhere.

In addition to socks, I have had some realizations lately.  When a parent has one or two children, and their clothes begin to look like rags, the cause is clearly understood to be “kids will be kids!”  It seems to be widely accepted that children can be hard on clothes, wear them out quickly, mismatch, and lose them on a regular basis.  I noticed, however, that somewhere between child 3 and 5, this accepted norm turned into pity for the “large family with too many kids and can’t afford to dress them.”

In fact, a great example is a few months ago when we were scheduled to have family portraits done.  We chose the white-shirt and jeans attire, and I went out and bought brand new white shirts for everyone.  I kept them in the store bag, knotted tightly and high up on a shelf where no little hands could touch them, until the morning of the photos.  After the kids ate breakfast, I carefully washed their hands and faces, dressed them, and immediately put light coats on and zipped them up snuggly, in hopes of preventing anything from getting on those shirts.  We arrived at the outdoor photo shoot (red rocks equal red rock dust, ftr!) and forbid the children to touch any of the rocks, lest they transfer rock dust to their white shirts.  Finally, I positioned the kiddos, removed their coats, and we took the photos.  Then, within an hour, N had a nose bleed–you guessed it, all over his brand new shirt!!

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Just recently, I once again had an offer for some hand-me downs.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I LOVE hand-me downs, thrift stores, department store clearances, and yard sale clothing.  Kids (shoot, even me for that matter!) go through clothes so fast, it’s ridiculous to buy new clothes all the time.  However, I do happen to take some pride in the appearance of myself and my children.  I prefer clothes that have no holes or stains or tears, especially when going out somewhere publicly.  On occasion, one of the children slips past my inspection though, and manages to get into a public place wearing their “play” clothes.  I’m sure that doesn’t help any with public perceptions.  But, that’s life, and I do have bigger issues to worry about.  I just find it interesting how, when I had one or two kiddos, people passed on clothes just to share and recycle.  Nowadays, when someone offers hand-me-downs, they are often worn out already, full of stains, and being given to us because the previous owner (often strangers we don’t know at all) seems to pity our “situation”–whether they know anything about our situation or not.  When I receive a new bag of used clothing, I often spend a significant amount of time sorting through (often smelly) clothing, trying to find pieces that look half decent and wearable.  Sometimes, I get a good batch; other times, it is frustrating that someone would think we are so desperate as to need their junk cast-offs.  Nonetheless, for now, I try to be appreciative in the hopes I can always save a few $$ and find some diamond-in-the-rough clothes in that bag, in order to replace some worn-out jeans, lost socks, or other apparel that would suggest my children might be orphans.

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