Fire Trucks, Big Boys and the Rush to Grow Them Up

I’m sad.

Depending on brand and specific sizing, BigBrother has entered the Big Boys clothing department. Not only am I finding that the prices are more expensive but I’m finding that I’m annoyed with the general ugliness that faces me for the next umpteen years of clothing purchases.

I know that no size 16 wearing teenage boy wants to wear a shirt with a monkey face embroidered on the chest that reads, “B-A-N-A-N-A-S.” At some point, I’m sure it becomes less cute and more uncool to wear a shirt that reads, “My Mom Has my Heart,” on Valentine’s Day or any day. I’m pretty sure that twelve year old boys don’t tell their Mom, “What I really want to wear on the first day of school is a shirt with a big red fire truck.”

But he’s four. A big, broad-shouldered four. A four that just had a huge growth spurt and out grew all of his pants. But he’s still four. He tells me, multiple times daily, that he loves me. When he wants something, he tells me that I’m his best friend. He plays with fire trucks, cars, contstruction vehicles in his sandbox and thinks that Toy Story characters are real. Dinosaurs have entered his play realm and, really, all he wants is a dog. (A real one.) He lets me read him Bearnstein Bear books, anything by Dr. Seuss and will laugh for hours at Not a Box. He loves his rocket ship pajamas, Toy Story slipper-boots and Cars toothbrush.

I know his interests are going to grow, change and develop over the next few years. While we were dorking it out as a family last week on our first geocaching expedition, we passed the skate park and he saw his first skateboard in action. “What’s that?” I told him. He came home and asked to wear his shirt that has (cute, non-grungy, brightly colored) skateboards on it. Eventually he might like skateboarding and want to wear grafittied, grungy shirts with slogans that fit it. Or maybe he’ll prefer plain t-shirts. Or maybe he’ll be into chess. Or sports or specific sports teams that happen to be from Pittsburgh. Or photography. (Oh, please, photography.) Or whatever else.

But right now he likes fire trucks.

And since he now wears Big Boy sizes, his fire truck choices are limited. Because apparently Big Boys don’t like fire trucks? I don’t imagine that a seventeen year old is going to show up at school with a bright red fire truck on it. But a four year old? A five year old? A six year old? Why do we have to grow them up so quickly? Why do we have to place them in shirts that I find mostly ugly? Why do we quickly remove shirts with dinosaurs and crocodiles and fire trucks and tow trucks and boats to oh-so-quickly replace them with characters from movies that, I’m sorry, my kid isn’t going to watch for years to come. Why do they go from bright, cheerful colors to faded, ugly ones? The transition from toddler clothing to big boy clothing has more than a sticker price of a few extra dollars. It’s an immediate shove into a world where he doesn’t quite fit in yet.

Thankfully I found one fire truck shirt in his new size. A friend also recently gave us a few 5T shirts (a size very few brands have anymore) from her son that sport fire trucks. So, we have a few. This year. Maybe by next year he will have shunned the fire life but I would strongly doubt that will happen for awhile. I know that Moms and Dads of girls face similar-but-different issue with Big Girl sizes (too sexy, too raunchy, too old, etc) so I know I’m not alone in my lamenting the sudden shift to the Big sizes.

But, really, can’t we have another year or two of cute shirts? Of shorts that aren’t so long that I can’t see his nom-nom-able knees? Of being a child? He’ll have a whole life of not wearing fire truck shirts. Can’t he have just one or two more? Can’t I have just one or two more? With that sentence, I am fully aware that this is more my issue with my boys growing up, quickly and unstoppably, than it is his issue with a lack of fire truck shirts. But I feel wholly unprepared for what I view as a sudden shift in their childhoods, even if it is something as insignificant as what happens to be on their shirts.

Fire trucks are safe. What comes next might not be. I just need them to be safe for awhile longer. Can’t I just have that?

28 replies on “Fire Trucks, Big Boys and the Rush to Grow Them Up”

I’ve lamented about the same thing. Our oldest will be 4 in June, but has been in the same situation as BB for about a year. (he’s wearing boys’ 6 shirts now) And much like you, we went from being able to wear fun shirts with our favorite Toy Story or Cars characters (or even Thomas) to wearing shirts with either nothing at all or movie tie-ins that would have easily been teenager only when I was 4. Maybe someone needs to create a clothing design company that does larger sizes with cute stuff on it…

I think you’re on to something. I don’t want to dress him like a baby but I want him to be happy with the clothing that he’s wearing, you know? It’s hard.

There is still some cute stuff out there for 6 year old girls, but heck if Ari will let me buy them. She tells me they “aren’t rockstar enough”. Ugh. I refuse to buy her skulls, though. Flowers and butterflies? Yes, please.

Fortunately, I have no problems with Joey, yet. He’s still tiny enough to be wearing his cute little 3T sizes from last year.
.-= Dee´s last blog ..Amerikick Internationals 2010 =-.

Well, of course, she is a fashionista! I can handle skulls with direct reference to pirate stuff but not just on random things. LB won’t have this problem as early as BB has, I think, as he is my smaller side of the curve dude. Of course, he’s PICKY about what he wears. That’s another post in itself. Kids.

Oh, whew. I’m glad to see that someone else a) has trouble finding solid color t-shirts and b) looks for them at all. I always feel like the Boring Parent when I just want a solid (or even plain striped with no other details!) shirt for the boys. As I told Dee above, I can handle skulls with direct relation to pirate stuff but, otherwise, not so much.

I agree with this. For both kids. Fish is 10 and just as we settled on Justice for Girls, they closed our local stores. It’s not perfect, but it’s a reasonable compromise. Ladies try L.L. Bean and Land’s End. I buy both on clearance and have pretty good luck.
.-= Lee´s last blog ..The First Weekend in April =-.

We have NO local stores. I have to do all of my shopping online. We lost Gap before BB was born and Old Navy before LB was born. I do a big shopping trip in May and late September to stock up at the Outlets back in PA (no sales tax) so I can hit the big stores (Carters, Osh Kosh, Old Navy, Gap, Children’s Place). Otherwise, I buy online in between. We do have access to a Kohl’s (25 minutes) and a Target (45 minutes) but that’s still a drive at times.

Yes! Thankfully he’s not picky about clothing (unlike my younger son) and doesn’t care if he’s in a plain/striped shirt as well. But, man, he does like fire trucks.

We made the switch to Big Girl clothes about a year ago. WAAAAH! Alexis was only three when she outgrew the t-shirts and such in toddler sizes. Thank goodness Gap is pretty much the same on both sides of the sizing charts. Otherwise, I’d cry every time I went shopping for her.
.-= Burgh Baby´s last blog ..Yup. She Gets It From Me. =-.

Gap and Old Navy alike remain on my tolerable list as they both carry 5T. Gap currently has some dinosaur/shark/robot/truck shirts in 5T (though that size sells out QUICKLY) but, again, in the big boy department, I’m at more of a loss than I am in the toddler department. Again, a shark shirt (but lime green?) and a soccer shirt (though VERY wordy and I really don’t like overly wordy shirts) are tolerable as are their plain t-shirts (woo plain!). But, of course, the polos are love. One friend asked me recently why my kids wear polo shirts so frequently: because they’re the only thing that isn’t ugly!

I’m in the same boat. Kiddo is 5 and just now moving up to the Big Boys size in shirts. I loathe most of what is considered fashionable for little boys nowadays. JC Penny still has 5T in their Okie Dokie brand. Target’s Circo 5T in pants/shorts run big thankfully. We wear a lot of polos & striped shirts. Can’t fathom why solid tshirts are so hard to find. I dread when Kiddo starts Kindergarten in the fall and gets exposed to what all the other kids wear & wants to dress like the older kids. UGH! Although I do like lime green. Kiddo looks good in that color since he’s Hispanic. LOL!
.-= Elizabeth´s last blog ..Dying Easter Eggs =-.

Okie Dokie fits small on BB for some reason. 5T doesn’t always fit him in that brand. Shirts are narrow and short on him. Pants are okay though. We also live in polo shirts!! BB actually looks okay in lime green but it makes me kind of color-twitchy. HA!

Have you tried Carters? (If there isn’t one near you, I know they just opened their online store.) I was trying to find some long-sleeved light-weight pajamas for Gracie this weekend and went in. They have really cute clothes up to size 6 and 6X that are geared more to kids being kids. You might try looking there!
.-= Katie in MA´s last blog ..Oops, she did it again. =-.

The Carters website is a big letdown to me. I did, however, grab a 2 Carters shirts from Kohl’s and plan on hitting the Carters outlet in early May. But I was even annoyed with their lack of selection last year, minus BB’s firefighter rain jacket. Hopefully they step it up this year in store.

You are right on the money! How true this all is. My oldest is wearing size 6-7 t-shirts (he’s 6) and mostly prefers shirts with pictures on them. Sadly, many of those pictures include skulls and crossbones, big kid movie pictures, or other mostly inappropriate stuff. My 4-year-old is also moving into the big kid clothing phase (YIKES!) and is wearing most of his big brother’s old t-shirts, also preferring shirts with pictures on them. It’s hard. It doesn’t get much better. Sorry about that truth! We like to wear shirts with local sports teams on them. Good luck!
.-= Saj´s last blog ..A rough day at the park =-.

Thankfully BB doesn’t protest too much if I put him in a plain/striped shirt. I figure that might change in the not-too-distant future. Or it might not and I will be spared that drama. LB, on the other hand, has very specific thoughts about what is and is not okay to wear at any given moment. Ugh.

Have you tried Kohl’s? They carry alot of “cuter” things in the big sizes. Our 6yo wears a size 7 and I got him almost his entire school wardrobe there last fall…including 3 firetruck shirts! :-) I totally agree with you…have the same problems….and HATE almost all the big boy clothes out there! *Sigh*

Kohl’s was where I found the one lone fire truck shirt. And a nice baseball shirt. Both Jumping Beans brand. I also picked up two Carter’s shirts there and plan on hitting the Carter’s outlet in early May.

I’m refusing to shop at stores that don’t carry 5T. Jamison needs 5T shirts if I want to make sure he’s not going to be a whole new wardrobe like he did mid Winter. Which means Children’s Place and Kohl’s are out as options. And yes I realize I’m being silly but my son is THREE. I’m not shopping in the boys department just yet. You should check out H&M, they have cute clothes in bigger sizes, I almost bought Jamison a Lightening McQueen shirt there a couple weekends ago.
.-= Kristen´s last blog ..Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting =-.

What about Etsy (online)? Surely there are moms with kids who are making more mom-approved kid-centric clothes to sell through an Etsy store? I have a friend who puts cute skirts for girls online there and does a really brisk business. I’m really sad to think a kid couldn’t go off for the first day of Kindergarten in a fire truck shirt (or a bulldozer shirt, or a tugboat shirt or whatever their passion du jour might be at that point in life) Fix this, internet!


OK, readers of Fire Mom — here’s your cue. Niche market alert!

If you don’t mind, I think I will send the link to this thread on your blog to my friend who markets her stuff on Etsy. She has older boys, so she must have been through this too, and I have a feeling she’s more than capable of whipping up some appropriate stuff. I’m too new a reader here, and it doesn’t feel quite right to shill for someone else on your blog, but stay tuned for someone named Terri to chime in with a link to her stuff, and it won’t surprise me at all if she steps up with the offer of a custom order for you :-)

As a girl mom, I had never noticed the change in boy clothes. Of course my kids are not quite 2 and 4 so most of their friends have not switched to big kid sizes yet. I dread when we move to the other side of the store where the clothes get too sexy for me. I am even amazed at the swimsuits for babies and toddlers and don’t get me started on panties and training bras!

I did think it was funny how you ended your post on how “fire trucks are safe”. On t-shirts, yes. In real life, they keep us safe.
.-= Christy@pipandsqueak´s last blog ..Cinderella =-.

I don’t know why this post pulled at my heartstrings, but it did. I completely feel your pain about the boys growing up and their cute clothes being replaced by not-so-cute ones. I’m not even a Mom yet, but when I go shopping for my friends’ children, I get all mushy when I see all the cute toddler clothes out there. I always pass the “big kids” clothes section, but I never want to look there. It’ll be ok. BB will still always love you!
.-= Rebecca´s last blog ..April Showers? =-.

I sometimes wish I also had a girl when it comes time to clothes shop. But then I think of how much money I would spend buying the adorable clothes which they offer for ALL size girls! This past year of moving up from the baby section to big boy has been SO disappointing!

Our only local store is a WalMart. I could find serviceable and appropriate items (even dress clothes for chuch!) there and LOVED Garanimals.

Now that we’re into 5 and 6 size items – UGH.

I had a pleasant surprise last weekend when I was back home – Hit a Kmart and found some GREAT T shirts and shorts – stripes, multicolors – Ts seem very well-made and thick, with soft seams.

Aside from that, I’m usually stuck at the Children’s Place to buy things. I don’t shop online, so it’s not often I get to a town with one of those.

I’m sad that I think this was our last winter to be able to fit into Carter’s PJs… I will miss them! They have the BEST PJs – quality and designs.

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