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  • Walt Mussell

Size Matters (Habit: Mixing up the kids' clothes)


Years ago, I wrote a book (never published) about all of the habits of mine that my wife finds annoying. I contend that these are typical male habits. My wife says that they are specific to me. Love to hear your thoughts. I'm now posting these habits weekly on my blog. Please let me know if you agree with me or my wife. The habit below is from the section House Rules


My boys are ages 23 and 19. My older son is of average height, maybe a little taller or shorter depending on what statistics you look at. My younger son is the tallest in the family and built like a football player in pads. These days, it’s easy to tell the kids’ clothes apart.


It wasn’t always so.


When they were young, my older son was of course taller and able to exert his authority. My wife and remember a day many years ago when our younger son ran into a room crying. We asked what was wrong. Our younger son responded that his older brother had “hit him back.”

As they grew, there was a period where my younger son caught up with his brother and also periods where both of them surpassed their mother’s height. It’s this period that gave me the most trouble.

When it started, I was only trying to be helpful. My wife would finish the laundry, fold it nicely, and then set it in the sum room downstairs with the intent of taking the clothes upstairs later. When I see the clothes, I take them upstairs and put them away as a surprise. However, my wife usually ended up being surprised the next morning when she tried to get the boys ready for school or whatever outing she planned.


“Honey, you do know which dresser is which for our kids?” she asked me one evening.

“Yes, our younger son has the shorter dresser. Our older son has the taller one. w’s is the taller one. The dressers are also in their separate rooms. Why?”

“Because you put their clothes in the wrong dressers.”

“I could of sworn I put them away correctly.”

“You need to look at the labels and sizes.”


Granted, I was guesstimating, based on how big the clothes looked. I tried a few more times, but I still got them wrong. Sometimes, my sons found out before their mother. They would come downstairs after their baths/showers, laughing and wearing each other clothes.


One day, my wife finally admitted I was hopeless on this issue. “I want you to stop putting away the clothes,” she said.

“What’s wrong this time?”

It turned out I put our older son’s jeans in her dresser.

“Well, you can fit in his clothes,” I commented.

“Yes, but I don’t normally buy my clothes from Gap Kids.”


In my defense, I think I have a good reason for my confusion. The kids grew fast and early on my younger son would wear his brother’s hand-me-downs. Clothes I used to see on one I now see on the other. As for mixing up my wife’s and son’s jeans, even my wife concurred that, for a brief time, their clothes were the same size. Still, it was irritating for her to deal with.


I took her advice and let her do it. There were mornings our kids would wake up, thinking they had clean clothes for school and then discovering the clothes belonged to their sibling. When I stopped putting the clothes away this stopped.


But there was a bigger reason.


I realized I never wanted my still young son going through his Mom’s dresser to look for his jeans. There were some questions in life that I wasn’t ready to answer yet.


The photo is free clipart from istockphoto.com