I’ll Give You the Shirt Right Off My Son’s Back

Before I tell you anything else, I wanted to let you know that God’s Will’s cat scans (or as my youngest son mistakenly prayed about yesterday, his “scat cans”) were CLEAR!! Woo hoo! Not today, cancer. Not today.

It’s my friend Ralph’s Favorite Stories Week here at Snoodlings. This is another story that doesn’t paint in me in the best possible light, which is why, most likely, it’s one of Ralph’s favorites.

Besides the one and only Ruby Jane, Ralph and his wife have two other children. Their youngest, Jesse, is  a couple of years younger than my youngest. He’s going to be an astronaut when he grows up and he’s almost as precious as my own kids. When my youngest son outgrows his clothes, I pass them on to Jesse. This may sound weird, but I am emotionally attached to many outfits that my children have worn over the years. Getting rid of their clothes that are too small is very emotional for me. I attach memories to certain things they wore. When they can’t wear a special shirt anymore, I mourn the loss of an age they’ll never be again. But when I pass clothes on to Jesse, it’s like the clothes get new life. When I see him wearing something that my boys wore, I feel happy and relive the good memories. Again, let’s not dwell on the fact that I may have issues that need addressing.

Jesse loves getting the clothes from his friends, “the big boys,” so it’s a win-win situation for everyone. In fact, he expects to get clothes from our family on a fairly regular basis. One day his mom and I were talking and she told me that during a recent cold snap, Jesse was wearing a coat that I’d passed down to him last year and he was wearing a bulky sweater under it. He was uncomfortable because the coat felt a little snug across his shoulders and through his arms. He looked at his mom with disgust and said, “We need to tell Ms. Amy (he doesn’t call me Whimzie) I need a new coat!” We laughed, but his story reminded me that I had another coat one size larger that my boys couldn’t wear anymore. I told Tanya that I’d get the coat to her when our girls had ballet practice that week. I pulled it out of the attic and put it in our coat closet, which is also the receptacle for all the things that need to leave our house (library books, purchases that need to be returned, Jesse’s coat).

Since I had the coat where I should remember to take it with me, I of course  walked out the door and went to ballet practice without it. When I saw Jesse wearing last year’s coat, I remembered that I had forgotten to bring the coat like I’d promised.

“Oh, Jesse, I’m sorry! I forgot to bring the coat.” And just as the words were coming out of my mouth, I happened to look over and realized that my youngest son was wearing the coat that I’d pulled out to give to Jesse.

You need to understand that my youngest son doesn’t really like to wear socks, shoes or outerwear. When I make the “everyone-put-on-your-socks-shoes-and-coat-call” before we walk out the door, he will almost always wait until the second that the rest of us are getting into the car to decide that he will participate in that group activity. In his rush, he will grab whatever shoes and wrap he happens to find in the coat closet. He has been seen in public wearing his big brother’s shoes that are at least three sizes too big. He has tried to use his favorite blanket in place of an actual jacket. He has even attempted to wear my shoes, but I was alerted to his choice  by the sound of him tripping down the stairs on the way out of the house and was therefore able to force him to go back and find his own shoes.

So, yes, the coat he had on at ballet practice was too small, but without thinking of how it might appear to the others in the room who didn’t know that my son had another coat at home that fit him perfectly, I called my son over to me and said, “Hey, take off your coat so I can give it to Jesse.” I think he gave one “But, Mom,” but I was already pulling the coat off of his body to give it to my friend’s child. And because my son has a flair for the dramatic at times, he shivered and slunk into a corner as if he were being punished. Like we were doing a production of Oliver Twist and he had the lead.

In my defense, we live in the South. It wasn’t that cold outside. And I’d parked directly in front of the studio’s entrance so he wasn’t going to have to trudge through the frozen tundra to get to our car. But I guess it looked a little strange. And perhaps cruel. But I really didn’t think about how it must have looked until I was talking to Tanya on the phone later and Ralph asked for the phone so he could ask me, “So you really just made your kid take off his coat and hand it over to my son and your kid walked out with nothing?”

Well, when you put it like that. But it’s not like he was wearing his swimsuit, for crying out loud!

My friend Ralph. Making me feel like a failure as a mom and a person since 2004. I can’t wait to hear what he has planned for me to tell you tomorrow.



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16 responses to “I’ll Give You the Shirt Right Off My Son’s Back

  1. tanya

    Love that story too!!! and thanks again for the clothes!!!

  2. carpoolqueen

    So if I see you wearing a cute necklace, does the same rule apply?

  3. Hooray for a clear scat can! Praise the Lord!

    I love clothes from friends! My friend (and yours!) Elizabeth just sent Livi and Ava a box of clothes her daughter outgrew. Such a BLESSING!


    I’m laughing harder than I probably should because I’ve been guilty of the whole “take that off so I can give it to ____” scenario.

    We’re teaching generosity, right??? And giving the shirt off your back. Literally.

  5. Ralph

    Personally…I think you are a great mom, to my kids (as is their mom). I am pretty sure we have yet to buy clothes for Jesse, other than his spiderman underwear….I really wish I was smaller than Kelly, as he has some really cool clothes with medals and patches and such…

    I am struggling to remember a story that you told me at church.

    One night, as we gathered for some sort of Sunday drama rehearsal, you told a story of Hawaii…I think it was of getting lost on one of the 3 roads that exist…I remember laughing so stinkin’ hard…but the story escapes me at the moment.

    I will be working on my recall.

  6. I have just loved these stories! They have made my day and I get all giddy when I see that you’ve posted again. Thanks for all the fun, even if it’s at the expense of you. 🙂

  7. Betty Boop

    Poor little B…..I can see him someday seeing a poor sole shivering w/o a coat and jerking his off and saying “Here, go ahead and take it before my Mom finds out you don’t have one! Too funny!!!

  8. Betty Boop

    Rats!!! I meant soul!

  9. findinghimbigger

    Way to be self-sacrificing! 🙂

  10. I’m loving your stories this week my friend!

  11. Well, I know someone who lives on the other side of your computer, and she might be willing to do a crazy quilt or make some other such nonsense out of baby clothes. Just sayin’. ‘Course if you’ve given them all away…

    My kids are always way bigger than their peers, so we are hand-downers, too. Though I’ve never taken a coat off which is still being worn. But I’d definitely do that. It’s not stooping or anything. I just haven’t.

  12. I would have done the same thing. 🙂

    Very important question: since I’ve been getting to know Ralph and Tanya and their family, I have to know how you pronounce her name. Is is TAH-nya, like lasagna, or is it TAN-ya, like Tucker? Being the recipient of many ridiculous mispronunciations and a literal phonetic reader, I must know.

    • whimzie

      She is Tanya like lasagna…..And now I have a fun new nickname for her, thanks!

      I’ve always wondered about yours. In my mind, I call you Tanya like lasagna, too.

  13. Woo hoo, praise the Lord….woot-woot (about the cat scan).

    Love the coat story too.

  14. You know you could have gotten all scriptural and made him take his shirt off and hand it over too.

    I love giving my kids’ old clothes to friends b/c then I get to enjoy them longer.

    Okay…think I’m caught up now. Have a great weekend!!!

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