A friend, Joanna, asked the other day how proficient our four-year-old Jack was at getting himself dressed.
"Very good, actually," my wife Katherine said.
"But colour co-ordination isn't his strong suit," I added innocently.
At this point, Katherine turned to me and glared. "And it's YOUR strong suit?" she said.
What does Katherine mean by this?
Joanna, who also has a four-year-old son, then turned on her husband, Adam, and started questioning HIS ability to match clothes.
She said that when she bought a new outfit for Lukasz, she made a point of pointing them out to Adam so that he knew what went with what.
There are obviously two separate and very different issues here.
1. I concede that dressing young children can sometimes be very difficult for fathers. It is not like, say, putting together a static model car which comes with instructions that explain where exactly Part A glues to Part B. Little children are moving, wriggling objects. Sometimes dads, battling a tight deadline until their favourite sports show comes on telly, just have to do the best they can and bung on whatever items of clothes come quickly to hand.
2. Are Katherine and Joanna implying that Adam and I have deficiencies when dressing OURSELVES? They don't like our colour co-ordination? Our choice of attire for particular occasions. What?
I admit I have made mistakes with Jack clothes recently. I have sent him to school three times now with his shoes on the wrong feet. But I have to stress they were the SAME shoes, not a mismatched pair. And the cricket was on telly, distracting me on each of those occasions.
I also confess that I dressed him in his summer pyjamas to go out but, heck, they looked smart enough to me and nobody told me they were pyjamas.
Adam and Joanna know of some poor bloke who, left home alone to dress his child, had trouble with what he assumed were underpants.
There seemed to be too many holes.
That was because, his wife later advised him, it was actually a singlet.
A mate of mine, Dean, once sent his daughter to school without any knickers at all.
But I think there is a strong defence here for saying it was much less a crime than sending her to school with, say, a red dress and green underwear.
Katherine probably disagrees with this.
She doesn't mind that colour combination at all.
But I grew up with what I have always thought was sound clothes colour co-ordination advice:
"Red and green should never be seen."
Unfortunately, I am a bit colour-blind and cannot recognise every shade of green there is.
But where I can I still try to adhere to this rule.
Why, even as I sit here writing, in the privacy of my own house, I have no clash of red and green upon me.
Indigo yes, lavender yes; cyan, yes. I have vertical stripes, horizontal stripes, big squares and little squares. My lurid boxer shorts are the wrong way around but the cap on my head is only slightly backwards.
And Katherine has the cheek to suggest I lack dress sense?
I wonder: at what point will Katherine and Joanna come to the conclusion that their sons have no dress sense at all, just like their fathers?
©January 5, 2001 John Martin. All Rights Reserved