Generation GapPosted: April 25, 2009
I have a bone to pick with my son.
For more than three decades I held on to his special baby things: his “wedding hankie” bonnet and the little yellow outfit he wore home from the hospital, his yellow brush and comb, two buntings, a navy wool coat and hat my mother made, the little blue and white leather newborn saddle-oxford shoes, the outfit he wore on his first birthday, and bunches of other nice clothes and shoes and blankets and gowns and booties. Even his stuffed raccoon pillow without the stuffing. And his well-used Winnie-the-Pooh blanket. They were all so wonderfully 1970’s special, and I knew he’d want them one day.
At Christmastime I boxed them all up and took them to the celebration around the lighted tree. My son and daughter-in-law were four months away from twins. We’d all enjoy going through the box and looking at these tiny baby things, and they would have meaning and purpose now.
Of course, I didn’t really expect them to bring their newborn son home from the hospital in the same outfit my son was brought home in. Not much anyway. It was two-piece, yellow polyester-crepe material, white pointed collar, with a tiny choo-choo train on the front. It would have been so special for this new baby to wear it home, too, but every parent deserves the right to choose something fresh and new … and in style, from the appropriate century and millennium. When I mentioned the option of using the old, I was told, “We want to pick out something new.”
Okay. Fine. Why would anyone want something new when they could have something special? Though old. Think of all the times all through the years we’d be able to say, He wore the same suit home from the hospital that his father did. I didn’t say it; I just thought it.
We did use the “wedding hankie” bonnet, however. The baby boy wore the same bonnet home from the hospital that his father did. (That’s a separate story.)
“Will you wash it?” Nicole asked me from her hospital bed.
“I’m not sure it was ever washed for my son,” I told her. But I washed it, carefully, by hand, and placed it around a balled-up wash cloth to dry.
After the babies came home, I looked through the nursery chest-of-drawers and in the closet … and I didn’t see my son’s special items.
“Where are all your baby clothes I saved for you?”
“They’re in a box in the top of the closet.”
“The top of the closet? Why aren’t you using them?”
“Well, we might take them down and put an outfit on the baby for a minute and take a picture of him in it … but, Mama, they’re old.”
“But they’re still good!”
“We do want to hold onto them … they’re vintage.”
Vintage. A dated object. Old-fashioned or obsolete.
At first bathtime a brush was needed. I placed the “vintage” yellow brush on the countertop next to the kitchen sink where we were going to sponge-bathe the baby.
“Mama, we can’t use that old brush on the baby’s head!”
“Why not? I washed it. With soap.”
Much laughter ensued. Deflated, I ended up returning to the nursery to retrieve the NEW white brush that came over here on a boat all the way from China, weeks in route over a nasty ocean, and was NOT washed, I might add.
I understand washing. I birthed my babies in an era during which we had to sterilize everything. We spent more time cleaning and sterilizing than we did taking care of babies. Yet I remember scads of times, seeing other parents — not me, of course — pick up a pacifier that had fallen on the floor and give it a fffft-fffft brush-off on their shirttail, like that was going to wipe off all the germs.
Dirty. Clean. Old. New. Vintage.