Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Captain Underpants

I thought that GJ had grown out of a certain problem he was having at the beginning of the school year, but new information has come to light and today felt like Ground Hog's Day.

GJ loves to be comfortable and he couldn't care less what others think of him.  I love this about him.  He is supremely confident and self-assured.  I can't imagine him ever caving to peer pressure.  The need for comfort is a driving force in GJ's life and vanity is not a vice that GJ recognizes.

If allowed, GJ would come home from school, strip off his clothes, and spend all of his time in nothing but his underwear.  As it is, he gets off the bus and rushes to put on a Snuggie.  Seriously.  He has one of those "as seen on TV" blankets with sleeves.  He wears it to breakfast and whenever else he can get away with it.  It's like an extra-long robe that is worn backward.  Sometimes he also wears socks with his underwear and Snuggie.  From the back, he looks like a hospital patient.

Wearing a Snuggie around the house is an amusing story (one I look forward to telling, especially to future girlfriends), but the Snuggie is but one product of GJ's deep need for comfort.  Our real problem is that GJ is most comfortable in clothes that he has already broken in (i.e., worn the day before).  He said recently that he would wear the same clothes (underwear, socks, pants, shirt - everything) everyday if he was allowed. And unfortunately he actually tries to do this.

It started with his underwear over the summer.  Only a pair or two would turn up in the wash each week.  Upon investigation, I learned that GJ had been wearing the same pair for a few days in a row before switching.  I didn't catch on sooner because a few pair look exactly alike and he resorted to some sneaky methods.  I remember a night in September when we checked on GJ after bedtime.  He was fast asleep and wearing a different pair of underwear than when we tucked him in.  The closet door was open and I noticed the clean pair in the hamper.  On another evening, we found his clean pair of underwear tucked under his pillow and again different underwear on his body.  When confronted with the evidence, GJ confessed that he had been sneaking out of bed, taking off his clean underwear, digging through the dirty clothes basket, and putting his dirty underwear back on!  AAAAH!

We immediately turned our attention to enforcing a simple rule - change your underwear every day.  I thought we nipped the problem in the bud back then in September through a strict system of oversight (he had to hand over his dirty underwear each night until he earned back our trust), punishment, and reward.  One morning, during the crack-down period and while waiting for the bus to arrive, I asked GJ to pick something up that he had dropped on the driveway.  He bent over and I saw the orange waste band of his most favorite (and dirty) pair of underwear!  Caught.  Ha.  From this day forward he became Captain Underpants.  Humor was my last strategy for getting through this "phase" (please God let it be a phase).  It seemed to work.

Until yesterday.  Our parental guard was down and Captain Underpants returned.  GJ tried to wear the exact same clothes (underwear and stinky socks included) to school on Tuesday that he wore on Monday.  This is apparently something he'd been getting away with periodically for a few weeks.  Seeing him in his navy pants and purple motorcycle shirt didn't phase me at first.  On the morning after laundry day, I have let him repeat an outfit worn the day before.  But yesterday he was already wearing his coat, boots, and hat, with the school bus in sight when it dawned on me that the whole get-up under his winter gear was dirty.  The wash had not been done the day before.  I asked him, "Are you wearing dirty clothes?"  He didn't answer me but his stare of contrived innocence answered my question. 

Sigh.  What's a mom to do?  Do I just let him become the stinky boy at school and learn this lesson the hard way?   Do I re-start the oversight program and incentive plan?  Maybe I have to move the dirty clothes basket to my room to remove the temptation. I'm at a loss and so tired of this particular battle.

Darn you, Captain Underpants!  What have you done with my mild-mannered people-pleasing little boy?

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