I have just spent the afternoon trying to do something that goes seems to go against nature. That is of course, keeping my children clothed and not looking like bums. You see, I refuse to submit to this idea that just because boys are boys they should always be wearing sloppy looking theme clothing. You know the usual lineup: junky looking Spiderman jackets, dirty Bob the Builder sweatpants, Japanime sweaters covered in pills and fuzz, stretched out Lightening McQueen racer striped T-shirts etc. I have excepted the fact that some of these items of clothing are inevitable and even exciting for the boys to wear. However I balk against them always looking like this.
Here in China, I have yet another theme for children's clothing to avoid. It is the most famous (practically the only) cartoon in China for children. Its name is Xi Yangyang Yu Hai Tai Leng (Pleasant Goat and Big Bad Wolf). There are a number of reasons that I dislike this cartoon (this is practically on par with the BINGO song). But to sum it up nicely, it is the Chinese version of CareBears. That is to say bad animations, annoying voices, the same plot for every episode, a plotting witch and her evil sidekick, horrible music and too much popularity. To prove my comparison, I have attached two photos each of Carebears and Xi Yangyang. There are practically no other shows for children on TV (other than Chinese Sponge Bob). This is alright with me because the boys rarely watch TV, however, it means that everything sold to children has Xi Yangyang theme.
If you are curious to see an example of this show, I have attached a link to an add on the Chinese equivalent to YouTube (YouKu): http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_XMTQyMjQxMDI4.html
Even if you watched the clip, you cannot understand my dislike for the show until you know that the kindergarten next door to our apartment blasted the Xi Yangyang theme song into the neighborhood at max volume everyday for six months. The song on the clip I posted is a newer skip-pier version than the one that was played outside (that one was smooth as honey: very grating).
All of that to say that finding nice kids clothes here that is not Xi Yangyang themed is challenging. Ari does have one pair of Xi Yangyang pants, but I have put my foot down and decided not to buy anymore. The only Xi Yangyang paraphernalia I buy is the occasional marshmellow treat, which is quickly ingested and out of site.
The other roadblock on the path to not sloppy clothing is the nature of boys. In the last while, my sewing machine has done far more mending than creating. Ari's Xi Yangyang pants (which were only purchased five months ago) have already shredded at the cuffs. The seams were savagely torn and ragged strings hung amok. However, I have successfully mended the tears, raised the hem and straightened wildly bent cargo pockets. The pants may now look like a giant zig-zag stitch, but at least that looks better than ragged tears. As the youngest of three girls who grew up wearing hand-me downs, it seems downright wrong to throw out a pair of pants after five months of wear. I'm sure that all experienced mothers of young boys will tell me that this is an exercise in futility, but I'm choosing the hard road.
As such, Ari's wardrobe has recently seen a huge overhaul. I have fully converted four pairs of ripped pants into nice looking shorts and I have bought three new pairs of pants (two of corduroy and one pair of jeans). The new pairs of pants I have hemmed high enough that he won't be able to step on the cuffs. This has required me to go against my basic aversion to "high water" pants, but hey, if means his clothes last longer than five months, I'm all for it!
Obviously boys are hard on their clothes. For example, I caught Ari actually using his hands to rip his pants even more than they already were (after the necessary lecture, this incident produced yet another pair of shorts). This is a good example of a time when I wonder where his brain is. However, I also recognize that it is not entirely his fault. I have come to the conclusion that anything sewn and sold in China is far more prone to ripping. For example, our couch. Since we have arrived, the relatively new couch covers that came in the apartment have ripped along four seams and worn through in two seats. You would think that we wear steel wool on our pants. However, when we mended the covers (more sewing machine) we discovered that even though the covers had been made to look like it had a double seam, they actually only had one thin seam. But our landlady doesn't know this, and unless we fix them ourselves, we just look extremely careless. If I was the landlady, I don't think I would believe the defense "All we did was sit on them! Honest!".
My goal in all of this is to somehow make these clothes last until Jude can wear them and not have to buy him new clothes. But as time passes and I see all of Ari's previously nice clothes being handed down as "bum" clothes to Jude, I wonder if I am caught in a never-ending cycle. It seems that Jude will either be stuck wearing a tramp suit or always wear shorts ("What do you mean you can't keep warm in winter with 10 pairs of shorts?")