I don't exactly know what my seven-year-old does when he gets to school, but I think it must have something to do with dropping to his knees. And I think he stays there for the rest of the day.
Why do I suspect that? Well, it's mostly because of the holes. In the knees. Of every pair of pants he owns.
I swear, I don't know how it happens. I have bought him every brand of children's jeans under the sun: Gap, Old Navy, Carter's, OshKosh, Wrangler, Levi's, Woodland, Children's Place, BUM Equipment, Joe Fresh and more. And not one pair of those jeans has lasted more than a few weeks before the dreaded holes start to make their appearance. Before I know it, he has no pants left without gaping holes in the knees, and I'm once again off to the store to buy him new pants.
Here’s how it was until recently. Periodically, I’d ask my son how on earth he kept getting holes in the knees. "I dunno," he’d reply blankly. But the grass stains on the knees told the story only too well. He's an active, energetic little boy, and whether it was wrestling with his friends, sliding into second base or army crawling on the ground, he was wearing through the knees of his pants long before he would ever outgrow them.
By the end of the school year, I'd had enough. I went through his clothes and discovered eight (EIGHT) pairs of jeans with holes in the knees. It was too much, even for me to take. I flatly refused to buy him another pair of jeans and I set about trying to repair the damage already done.
Off I went to the fabric store to buy patches. The selection wasn't huge – I could pick light blue denim, dark blue denim and camouflage patches. I grabbed a few of each. The patches claimed to be iron-on, so I gamely ironed them all onto the jeans according to the instruction.
I'd barely carried them upstairs when the patches started to come off at the edges. Well, that wasn't going to work, I thought. He'd have those patches ripped off in no time. But I wasn't ready to admit defeat just yet. Out came the sewing machine – I'd just sew these darn patches on the jeans so he couldn't get them off.
That, too, was a bit of a disaster. The tiny little legs on the pants had a hard time fitting on the machine, and I ended up sewing one side of the leg together with the other side, so he wouldn't be able to get his foot and leg into the pants. Brilliant – there was another idea that wouldn't work.
I still couldn't throw in the towel, so I sat, night after night, hand-sewing the patches onto the jeans. It took a few weeks to get them all finished, but I did it. It might have cost far more time than I wanted to spend, but for $1.29 a patch, I'd just saved myself a bundle of money on new jeans – that he'd just rip right through again.
And that's always the real problem when it comes to children's gear. When is it worthwhile to buy expensive items, and when should you cheap out? It's a tough question for moms to answer, so we asked some of our favourite money-savvy moms to give us their tips on which items to splurge on and which ones to save on. For me, it was quickly becoming clear: don't buy expensive jeans, because my son will have them ripped before I can take the tags off. (If you want to read what other moms have to say, check out “Splurge or save?” on Primacy Life.)
In the end, I saved myself a bundle on jeans by patching up the ones we already had. I know my son loves to wear his jeans to school, and I know how much he loves to roughhouse and play in the school yard. By patching up the jeans, we had the perfect compromise: I could save money and keep him looking respectable, and he could play until his heart was content. There's just one little problem….
He's already torn through the patches!
A journalist with more than 10 years experience, Alison’s work has appeared in a number of top Canadian publications, including glow, Oxygen, Canadian Running and more. She is the former editor of a number of well-respected Canadian and American trade journals and recipient of a Kenneth R. Wilson Gold Award of Excellence in feature article writing. She is a part-time faculty member at Sheridan College’s journalism department, as well as an avid runner and fitness enthusiast.