Little Boy Blue. Navy Blue.

This is the tale I swore I’d never tell. The story I promised I’d take to the grave. But…it…just…keeps…begging…to…be…told. Like a bad case of poison ivy demanding to be scratched. This is why I absolutely must tell it. And huge props go to my Waldorf, who is allowing me to tell it.

Extra dessert tonight, big guy

My Waldorf is such a private young man. We’ve had some serious talks with him in recent months. Dispelling myths about a certain heavyset individual who dresses in a red suit and squeezes down chimneys bearing gifts. That was a big shocker for Waldorf. He slapped his little forehead and exclaimed, “My God, I’ve been such a fool!” Even more recently we’ve discussed S-E-X and how babies are made. The look of horror on that poor child’s face is burned on my brain. His reply to that talk was absolutely priceless. But I will omit it from this very public blog. There is only so much therapy we’ll be in a position to afford. And it will need to be spread among 4 individuals.  But we recognized it was time to have these chats with Waldorf. Because, in addition to being private, Waldorf does not like to be the last one to learn anything. His friends are discussing the obese gentleman with the white beard and S-E-X (although hopefully not in the same conversation). So, we wanted to clarify a few things for him, open up the lines of communication. And avoid his feeling like a fool if everyone knows something he does not know.

So, Waldorf is private. And he sings. And he has a nice singing voice. Allegedly. I say allegedly because I haven’t heard him sing in years. I probably haven’t heard him sing in 2 or 3 kids. And it’s not because I’m not listening. It’s because Waldorf is so private that he will not sing when there are blood relatives within a 50 foot radius.

Waldorf and his set of pipes are in the boy choir at his school. I am told by parents, faculty, and the choir director himself that this is a coveted position. Boy choir has mandatory tryouts and is by invitation only. Last spring, Waldorf had to audition. Waldorf was irritated that he had to audition. Nevertheless, Waldorf auditioned well.  He scored a spot.

Me: “Waldorf!! I received an email from school with wonderful news! You made boy choir?! That’s fabulous, sweetheart! Daddy and I are so proud of you!”

Waldorf: “Oh. Yeah. That. I’m not doing it.”

Oh, we’ll see about that…

Me: “Well, let’s talk about it later when Daddy gets home.”

What to bribe him with…chocolate raspberry flan? He loves that dessert. Yes. Chocolate raspberry flan. I’ll start crushing the Oreos now.

Waldorf: “There’s nothing to talk about. I am telling you I’m not doing it.”

Shit. I need more than the flan. Goddamn this kid and his negotiations. He is going to be fit for a muzzle when he’s a teenager.

Me: “Let’s not close the door on any opportunities so quickly. Let’s look at the information, discuss the pros and cons, then we’ll all weigh in. The final decision is yours though.”

Well played. That last little bit about the decision being his? Stroke of genius if I do say so myself…

Waldorf: “Yes. And I’ve made my decision. My decision is that I’m not going to do boy choir. Ever.”

Me: Kissing his forehead, “We’ll talk about it later, sweetheart. Go ahead and get your homework started.”

Relentless, closed-minded little shit.

We eventually, very calmly, reach a nice compromise about boy choir. In exchange for giving boy choir a try, Waldorf chooses a brand new DS game he feels he can’t live without, and we buy it for him. And we agree to let him play it once a week during the school year. This is a coup in our house. We had remained an electronics free household during the week up until this point. But he’s a tough negotiator. We bribed him. And he thinks he played us. But it remains a win-win in our minds.

This school year rolls around, and he’s on board with boy choir. Begrudgingly at first. But the eye rolling eventually wears off by October. He refuses to sing for us or around us, but he no longer complains.

One of the requirements of participating in boy choir is performing a winter concert in an historic church in late December. The boys need to wear gray slacks, white shirts, school ties, dress shoes, and navy blazers. In early December, Waldorf had none of the above items in his closet. So I go out in search of the required winter concert boy choir uniform.  I land the gray slacks, white shirt, school tie and dress shoes fairly easily.The navy blazer is a slightly more difficult find.

Because I refuse to buy something unless it’s on sale. This is a trait I’ve inherited from my Mom. I refuse to pay full price for anything except for Jiff peanut butter and Bounty paper towels.

I don’t screw around when it comes to peanut butter. Or paper towels.


The sale blazer I finally track down has navy buttons on it. Awesome. Except, I prefer gold buttons on a navy blazer. Another trait I’ve inherited from Mom is the inability to sew. Or maybe it’s a complete lack of interest in learning to sew. Regardless, I’ve never sewn a goddamn thing in my life. Now, I know I can take the blazer to the cleaners and have them do the buttons for me. But no. I’ve decided it’s time to begin my sewing career. This is my first born child. This is his first navy blazer. For his first boy choir concert. I will sew these gold buttons onto this blazer for this child for this concert. Mom finds a (much too large for Waldorf) men’s navy blazer for $1 at a thrift store. And it has gold buttons. I will remove those buttons and sew them onto Waldorf’s blazer.

It takes me 3 hours to sew 4 buttons on his right cuff. And they are crooked. I suck. B&B laughs and points at me.

B&B: “Were you drinking when you did that?”

Me: “F you. I was not. This was a labor of love for me. I am proud of my work. Waldorf fidgets a lot, no one will notice the buttons on his cuff are crooked.”

B&B: “Sure they won’t. How far away does the audience sit? Maybe we’ll be lucky and he stands in the back row.”

Dammit, I know he’s right. I choke the words out.

Me: “You are right. This is not my wheelhouse.”

But I have to finish what I’ve started.

Well, maybe I’ll finish what I’ve started tomorrow. Yes, tomorrow.

Tomorrow rolls around, and we parents have to be at school to watch our 4th grade sons’ homemade volcanoes erupt. Totally awesome day. I have one hour between the volcanic eruption and the class party to commemorate the volcanic eruption. I could sew buttons in my car. Or I could browse the school’s consignment shop for some slightly worn, bargain-priced, much needed pants for the Kenyan, who continues to come home with holes in the knees of his pants.

Tomorrow. I’ll do the buttons tomorrow.

I walk into the store. Walk over to the boys’ section. And there, on the rack, it hangs.

A navy blue blazer. With gold buttons. With the original tags still attached. Mint in the box.

Shut up right now. Will you look at my good luck? Tell me it’s a size 10…

I flip the tag, my hands shaking in anticipation…

Size 10

Me: “HA HA!!! HA HA!!! YES! GOLD BUTTONS!!!!!!!! WOOHOOO!!!”

Naturally, I accompany this outburst with a dance, which I abruptly stop once I remember that I am indeed shopping without a companion.

I wonder how much it costs…

Hands still shaking, I flip the tag once again…


Mother of all that is good and pure…

Me: “A HA HA HA HA HA!!! YES!!!! YES!!! YES!!! SOLD!!! HA HA HA HA!!! AND HA!”

Clearly, I’m a dancing fool at this point. I’m able to retire my sewing needle. Waldorf will look so handsome in his pristine navy blazer with ruler straight gold buttons. And, shut UP with the $10.

Mom will be so proud

The day of the concert rolls around. We attend as a family. This means we sit in the back with 3 of our 4 kids and shell out snacks, DS’s, the iPad…and threats.

Me: Whispering to B&B, “They sound amazing, don’t they? And look at Waldorf!! He’s getting so BIG! And so handsome! I’m so proud of him! He’s singing! I see his mouth moving! Our oldest son is actually singing in front of all of these people!”

It’s difficult to relax and really enjoy the concert when the Interrogator and the Verb are in attendance. The Kenyan is easy.  The other two? It’s anybody’s guess whether one or both of them will embarrass themselves and us. But they knock it out of the park. Great behavior. No meltdowns. Minimal crumbs. A lucky afternoon indeed.

The following day, boy choir has an evening performance. B&B and I both want to go. We have a thumb war, which I win. One on one time with any of our kids is extremely rare. So I am thrilled.

Me: “Waldorf, I’m so excited for tonight’s performance! I can sit up front and really enjoy it!”

Waldorf: “Can we get ice cream afterwards?”

Always negotiating for the dessert..

Me: “That sounds like a great idea!”

Waldorf: “Can I play my DS on the way to the concert?”

Or the electronics…Jesus, Mary and Joseph…

Me: “Don’t push your luck, honey. Oh, before I forget, most of the boys had the top buttons of their blazers buttoned at yesterday’s concert. When we get out of the car, let’s do that for you too. It looks really nice.”

We arrive. Skate across the ice on our way into the church. Button his top blazer button, and I land my seat. Right in the front row.

Now this is what I’m talking about..

It’s a freezing cold night. Most of my holiday shopping is complete. I am sitting, showered and childless (a rare combo), among friends in a beautiful old church. I am wearing winter white slacks that are not too tight (holla!) and the chances are very slim that I will end the night with a small boy’s chocolate handprints on them. I am waiting for my oldest son to stand in front of this crowd and sing with his classmates and friends. And, he thinks it’s cool. And he is proud of himself. And I couldn’t be more proud of my first baby boy.

This is a moment. One of those moments of pure happiness. Remember it, Bethany.

The boys come into the church and assemble a stone’s throw from my seat. Waldorf is right up front. They begin singing.

OMG, it’s so beautiful. Don’t cry, don’t cry, DO NOT CRY, Bethany. Do NOT embarrass him like that.

Fa la la la la la la la la…

I am so proud of him. God, he looks so much like B&B. I am so glad we got his hair cut the other day. It looks so nice when it’s freshly cut. OK, I’m not crying, that’s good. Good job. Stay the course. No tears.

Fa la la la la la la la la…

I hope his shoes aren’t too tight. They fit him 2 weeks ago, but his feet are growing so quickly. He needs new sneakers every 3 weeks. Luckily he’s wearing the thin socks. I wonder if he’ll need deodorant soon. Some of his friends are wearing it. I bet the Kenyan will be ready for it before Waldorf. The Kenyan was such a clammy baby. Oh….OMG! Mom sang this song!! The year Waldorf was born! He was just a baby! I LOVE this song! Ah, think of something else, don’t cry, DON’T cry, DO NOT CRY!

Fa la la la la la la la la…

I am breathing deeply…

OK, keep it together! For the love of God, woman, keep it together. Good job remembering to tell him about the top button. It looks so polished. Every one of the boys has his top button buttoned.

Fa la la la la la la la la…

Hmmm. That’s weird….

Fa la la la la la la la la…

Waldorf’s blazer is twisted up a little in the front. How did he manage that?

Fa la la la la la la la la…

Now I can’t stop looking at his blazer. How did he twist it like that? It’s as though he buttoned it backwards…wtf?

Fa la la la la la la la la…

Oh dear God. Sweet Jesus Almighty, say it isn’t so.

Fa la la la la la la la la…

I am a horrible Mother. I am the worst kind of Mother. I should have my children taken away from me for this act of horror against my child.

My first born son, a painfully private child, is standing in front of 100 people, singing unabashedly, looking unbelievably handsome.


Size 10. Never before worn. $10. Girls blazer.

I bought him a goddamn girls’ blazer. Jesus Christ Algoddammighty.

I must confess I spend the rest of the concert alternating between hoping no one else noticed (for Waldorf’s sake) and trying not to pee my pants laughing (also for Waldorf’s sake).

After the longest (yet beautifully melodic) hour of my life ends, they sing their final song. The audience stands and applauds heartily. Speeches are made, flowers are presented, and the boys are dismissed. I cover and contain Waldorf in his coat as though I am Spiderman catching a villain in his web.

Waldorf: “Whoa! I can put my coat on myself! You don’t have to be so rough, Mom!”

Me: “Sorry, sweetheart, it’s just so cold outside. I…I don’t want you to get cold.”

We get our ice cream. Waldorf chats happily. We finally arrive home. He gets ready to go to bed.

Me: “Waldorf, I am so proud of you. Boy choir was not something you wanted to do. We made a deal and you gave it a chance. You’ve worked hard and remained open-minded. Daddy and I could ask for nothing more. You are such a good boy. Be proud of yourself. I love you.”

Waldorf: “Boy choir is fine. Goodnight.”

Fine is like the greatest endorsement Waldorf is capable of giving. So this brings a smile to my face.

Me: “Goodnight.”

B&B is getting ready to walk Waldorf upstairs and tuck him in.

Me: “Can I talk to you for a minute?”

B&B: “Sure. How was it?”

Me: “It was amazing. They sounded wonderful. Even better than yesterday. I still can’t believe he stood up there and sang like that!”

B&B: “Yeah, me neither!”

Me: “Yeah, and you know what else?”

B&B: “What’s that?”

Me: Whispering, “Your son stood up there singing his heart out while he was wearing a fucking girls blazer.”


Me: “I kid you not. Girls. Navy. Blazer. Buttons on the wrong side. Completely my fault.”

*I do feel the need to embarrass myself further at this point by admitting that my summer job throughout high school and college was working in a fine clothing store. Men’s fine clothing. Whose owner dubbed my husband with his nickname Big&Black (after I’d described him as tall, dark and handsome). I shudder to think what type of abuse I’ll be taking from that crowd for the foreseeable future.

B&B is literally on the ground, laughing. Wheezing. Tears are rolling down his face. He’ll be there for awhile.

I grab a bottle of red wine and a glass, and I step over him. Walk downstairs into the family room, get comfortable on the sofa, and bust out my recently retired sewing kit. And his original navy blazer. I double check the buttons, just to be sure.

Yep, boys navy blazer.

I’ve got some work to do.

Maybe the wine will make me sew the buttons less crooked.

My moral of this story? Always finish what you start

Waldorf’s moral (which he insisted I include on this post)? There’s nothing wrong with blue buttons.

**My sweet Waldorf deserves a medal of courage for allowing his big mouth Mom to tell this story. I asked him, and he turned me down. A week later, he came to me with a proposition…

Waldorf: “So, I’ve been thinking about blazer thing.”

Me: “Uh huh.”

Waldorf: “And, I think you’re a good story teller.”

Me: “Thanks, buddy.”

Waldorf: “So, I think you can tell that story. If I can read it first.”

Me: “I would only allow you to read it first. And I would only post it if you are OK with it.”

Waldorf: “That’s not all. I think you might get money for writing someday. Because people like your stories.”

Me: “Well, that would be totally awesome, Waldorf. Completely and totally awesome.”

Waldorf: “So, if I let you write that girls blazer story , and you do get paid for writing someday, I think it’s only fair if you would….buy me a cell phone. Please.”

Me: “If I get published, a cell phone you shall have, Waldorf.”

And we shake on it.

My little negotiator.

So, for the record, there happens to be one individual who hopes I become a real author even more than I hope for it.


34 thoughts on “Little Boy Blue. Navy Blue.

  1. Instead of dressing him up like a girl, why don’t you just have #5 and go for an actual girl? No? Not feeling up to it?

    lol! poor Waldorf. Where is this ladies blazer now??

        • I will be in hot water with the choir director if he thinks I’ve intimated that Deck the Halls was among the songs in his music catalog for the winter concert. I assure you, it was not.

  2. As soon as I read the title, I knew what it had to be about – but so many hilarious details I hadn’t heard! Waldorf speaks for all of us, knowing that these wonderfully written, wise and funny stories deserve a much larger audience. A cell phone seems a small price to pay for his compliance allowing you to re-tell this story, he’s certainly no dummy – but that was clear back in 1st grade ;^)

    • Waldorf is the kinda guy you’d be happy to see marry your daughter. Oh, wait, you’ve already read Procrastination. The Kenyan is great marriage material as well.

    • Thanks, Em! I am in the middle of writing a post and you’re in it! I am calling you “nice kindergarten mom”. Here come your 15 minutes.

  3. My Dear Girl…
    Bring me the blazer next month. I will sew the buttons to the manly side. And bring the other blazer, I will replace the blues with the golds. Your Godmother DID pay attention at sewing time. Your Great-Great grandfather was a TAILOR, and your great grandmother made vestments for the PRIESTS, and your grandmother hemmed more DRESSES, jacket cuffs, and slacks than can be counted for her three petite daughters for crying out loud! You can do this. I will teach you. (Sigh).

  4. I can relate to Sweet Waldorf, being the oldest myself, though I was not a
    negotiator! Loved seeing his mouth move at the concert, he looked so
    handsome (even though his blazer buttoned on the wrong side)! Proud of
    him for trying Boy Choir, proud of you for finding a great bargain, and he is right,
    YOU are a great writer!

  5. Lol-ing all through. Had to cover your words to avoid skipping ahead due to excitement….just like I do with real books from real authors;)

    • Thanks, Deb!! You’ve lived it! I always think of the twins when they were potty training and you were in the shower. B or C yelled out the window, “Help, my brother’s stuckin!” Stuck in the toilet. Classic.

  6. OMG, I’m DYING laughing. Hysterically laughing (mind you it is 2 am and I’m trying not to wake up my own crew over here). Okay, so I’m silently shaking in laughter (yes, it looks funny when no actual sound comes out!). This STORY is HILARIOUS. I agree with your private Waldorf = you are good at story telling! Hoping you are cool w/my reposting this on my blog…it is just too d*mn funny not to do so. BTW, your blog was forwarded to me by a former boss/friend of mine. So happy to have found your blog.

  7. OK, I just simultaneously cried and laughed, snot bubbles and all. The part where you were describing the beautiful singing and the song your mom sung when he was a baby and then leading into the girls blazer…….. PRICELESS and yes I am yelling! I feel like the dog Dug, in the movie Up. “I have just met you and I love you!” Even though we have not met. This blog is awesome I have to thank my friend Michele for recommending it to me. Great story!

    • I am so glad you got it! I laughed and cried as I wrote it…and as I read it to Waldorf. He said, “Oh, God, Mommy, are you crying?” Thank you so much for the kind feedback. I wonder if I know the Michele who recommended it to you…

  8. Pingback: The Tortoise and the Hair | My Four Boys

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