By Tim Sullivan

My youth was draped in plaid, velour, scratchy wool and saddle shoes. I complained some, but that only graduated me to cardboard inspired ‘Toughskins’ pants that came with extra iron-on knee patches. Not that I’m any sort of style maven these days. I wear a variation of the same outfit every weekday. There is a jeans component, a golf shirt, a sweater of sorts and some sensible shoes. It’s presentable, but I’d be lying if Kristen didn’t occasionally look at me with disappointment. She’s kind though. Last weekend, she offered to drop me off at Banana Republic and pick me up on Wednesday.

My laziness is thinly veiled as practicality. It’s my duty as a dad to put function over form and finance over fashion. All the more time and money to be spent with/on the kids! This same rationale allows me to cut my own hair (another attribute Kristen has learned to adore).  Sometimes, I’ll see a guy who dresses like I would if I had more time to shop – coupled with any desire to do said shopping – and I’ll think, he obviously doesn’t have any kids.

But my fashion inclinations are back page news at the Sullivan household.  Kristen’s are, too, even though she manages to look very well put together leaving the house no matter what has transpired between 6 and 8 a.m. It’s a pressure cooker of a time frame each weekday morning that rivals back stage at fashion week and I’ll verify that as soon as I get an invite to fashion week.

Elliott’s look – sleek, stylish sweatpants under an authentic NFL Jersey or a hooded thermal – is infinitely cooler than anything I ever pulled off in kindergarten. Ever flip through an US Weekly magazine?  They have a section called Stars ­– They’re just like us! It’s usually a picture of Jake Gyllenhaal or someone like that and he was just at the gym and now is shopping for peaches in an outfit that is regular-guy-only-cooler-chic. Elliott has pretty much nailed that look, leaving me in the dust. Although the other day he tossed in a flat-brimmed, Angry Birds cap. He wore it slightly askew and entered a mini-Bieber milieu that has me a little concerned for our youth in general, but honestly, he’s the easy one.

Margo’s preferred state is naked, but she will humor us by trying on four to six different pair of underwear (from the same pack) to find one that is “comftabull.” We’ve given up on pants entirely. All leggings, jeggings, leg warmers and socks for that matter will be denied because they don’t feel right or are downright frivolous since she is apparently impervious to the cold. Her dresses should hang loosely from her shoulders so as to not actually touch her body anywhere else. On a good day, she’s like the fashion lovechild of Shirley Temple and Mrs. Roper; on a bad day we essentially drop a child off to pre-school that appears to have fled a house fire.

We’re anxiously awaiting Target to release their new spring line of Crocs because that is the only footwear suitable for our little miss. A jacket cannot and will not be worn in the car seat, and if the dress of choice ties in the back, well it needs to be untied until we arrive at our destination. We have even brought her to school in her nightgown with her clothes in a bag. The outfits and her hair clips are magically more comfortable when her teachers Ms. Savannah and Ms. Laterria dress her because “they know how to do it right.”

Margo is lucky she’s so stinkin’ cute. It’s a phase right? Somebody tell me it’s a phase! We’re already late for everything and I don’t want to move to a nudist colony in order to raise this child.

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.