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  • Life Without Pockets: A Memoir

    May 31, 2018 3 min read

    I had a reputation in college as being a scatterbrain. I could never find my keys and I locked myself out of my room 26 times my first quarter. I went through innumerable pairs of sunglasses and multiple bike locks. I was terrible at keeping track of my own stuff.

    A few hours after my arrival at Stanford, opening the first of several doomed bike locks.

    Reflecting on the chaos I created for myself as a first-year college student, I estimate that fifty percent of the problem originated in the habits I had developed living across the street from the high school I attended. My mother worked from home and the door to our house was usually unlocked. Even if it was locked, I had figured out at age 8 that I could climb over the back wall from our tree house. So I had keys but I never used them. I also didn’t bother carrying around most of the other things I needed during the day since I knew I’d be stopping home for lunch or even occasionally during class - I’d just tell my algebra teacher I needed to visit my “locker.”

    By the middle of my first year in college, I had taken to wearing my room key on a necklace chain to stop locking myself out all the time.

    But only recently have I zeroed in on the other fifty percent of my never-remembering-necessities problem. It has to do with forming the habit of carrying around the things you really need to have. And I posit that I wasn’t able to form that habit properly because of the lack of pockets in my clothing.

    Now that I have raised four children through age 4 - three sons and a daughter - I have had the time and opportunity to observe how they handle owning and using things. My sons have always dressed in pants and shirts (because there is no other kind of toddler boy clothing. We can complain about that later. Maybe I’ll even do something about it one day). At any rate, they always have pockets on at least some of the clothes they’re wearing.

    Cargo shorts - 6 pockets per pair on boys, for a total of 18 usable pockets. Daughter has jean shorts - no usable back pockets, but they do have 2 front pockets which could probably carry some rocks, so that's at least something.

    But my daughter’s wardrobe is varied. Some days she likes leggings, other days it’s a tutu and Phineas & Ferb shirt, and occasionally it’s a princess dress. Actually, she dresses a lot like I did when I was a child - my interests ranged from nuances of language and fairy tales to Indiana Jones and James Bond. But the point is - sometimes her clothes have pockets, but they usually don’t.

    Typical daughter outfits. I'm sure that dinosaur has no pockets.

    The results of my study from this admittedly small sample size has proven to me that boys expect to have pockets on their clothes and behave accordingly - they carry the things they think they will need everywhere, nearly all the time. But they don’t have a huge amount of space so as they get older they become judicious about their choices - a key to their house, some gum, an object they might want to trade at a friend’s house.

    So delighted to have huge 4" deep pockets on her shorts.

    But my daughter does not always have pockets, so she doesn’t usually assume they’re in her clothing. If they’re not there, I become her walking, talking, giant hankie-of-infinite-holding. The other day she was holding a package of tissues (she was getting over a cold) while we were getting ready to go to the park. She started to hand me the tissues, but then I pointed out that she had a pocket on her new Princess Awesome airplane shorts. Oh the joy! A big smile, and a happy deposit of the necessary but inconvenient-to-hold item. Of course, I then promptly locked us out of the house since I didn’t have a pocket and therefore didn’t have my keys.

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