>The Orange Sweatshirt

>While Bennett spends a good 20 minutes preening in the morning, and can’t pass a mirror without drinking in a long, slow glance, Efram prefers to wear his shirts inside out and backwards. I used to attribute his overall wayward/homeless appearance to his spaciness — convinced that because he likes to read while getting dressed in the morning, that he wasn’t aware that the label of his shirt was under his chin, that his socks were inside out, or his shoes on the wrong feet.

Until the orange sweatshirt. Among many other items of hand-me-downs he inherited from Bennett, Efram received an orange hooded sweatshirt. It was mildly worn when he got it, but given his revolting sleeve-chewing habit, and an additional year or so of wear, the sweatshirt has gone from looking worn, in a cool sort of way, to looking grubby – full of tears, holes, smears and stains. So grubby that people began to comment on it. (“Hey somebody has to buy that kid some clothes!”) But the boys loves that sweatshirt, so much so that he tells me so regularly: “I love you, daddy, the orange sweatshirt, and my siblings.” (In order of importance, I’m sure.)

Guilt led me to Landsend.com, where I bought Efram something he rarely gets: new clothes. Please, don’t pity him. As the second child, he’s programmed to prefer clothes soft and worn-in from the minute he gets them.. and he often rejects any “new” items I procure on his behalf, complaining of scratchiness. So, I found the softest sweatshirts I could find, knowing he’d refuse them if they didn’t feel as though someone else had slept in them for a year, and a week later they arrived. There were three of them (big sale).

Now there are none.

As spacey as he can be, Efram had managed to get through the year without losing clothes at school. But in the space of 10 days, all three sweatshirts have vanished into thin air, and come tomorrow, Efram will proudly march into school wearing his beloved orange sweatshirt.

Should I have known better? Should I have scoured the bins at Goodwill and found some hand me downs from another boy? Should I have left it alone, and let him gaily march around Seattle wearing the orange nastiness — like the Von Trapp kids in curtains? Probably. It didn’t kill Captain Von Trapp, and it wouldn’t have killed me.

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