The Mast-Head: Wearing the Time

   Wednesday was Ellis’s second birthday and, like most mornings, the day started with his yelling “Da-deee” at about 5:20 as I was on my first cup of coffee. And, like most mornings, he settled back down. That was good; I had a column to write before the girls were supposed to get Ma  up for school.
    History is destiny or so they say. Like both Lisa’s parents and my parents before us, we have three children. The house we live in seemed big enough when I was a child here, but now I spend many weekends sorting toys and kids’ clothing, trying to figure out what to take to the dump, what to save, and what to give away.
    Ellis already has shirts, shorts, pants, and shoes to last him through about third grade. While engaged in a never-ending battle to make order out of the chaos that is our basement, I built a high wall of bulging bags of clothes people have given us. As perhaps the last of our friends to have a baby, we are sort of at the end of the line as far as this goes.
    For the girls, now 7 and 10, the great hand-me-down stream has begun to dry up, but they are at its headwaters now. Bags of the things they no longer fit into or can’t abide have flown out far and wide.
    I enjoy the puzzle of assembling stuff to give to different children to appeal to their nascent aesthetics. Ravenel gets the blue and navy frocks, simple one-color sweaters; Lola gets the dresses with frills, pinks, busy prints. Other things go to a woman we know who is taking care of a granddaughter, still more to charity.
    Much of the girls’ wear has come from the Neuberts, a Sagaponack family whose fast-growing children have been a boon to our slightly more diminutive kids. The mom, Adeline, says she enjoys it that the things she gives us are in turn passed to others. The other day when she came by the office with some bags of outerwear that no longer fit her kids, she said she sometimes will be out somewhere and see a child wearing something she thinks she recognizes.
    No doubt when Ellis wakes up today and Lisa or I put him in an outfit for his birthday, something he will wear will have once belonged to another child. He won’t care, and neither will I.