Be careful what you wish for, it might come true!
Buying clothes for teenager is tricky. Especially, if you’re trying to buy the perfect outfit in the Netherlands for a 12-years-old-Asian-boy back home, whom you haven’t met for more than a year.
I noticed and concluded when I was in junior high school that boys started to grow in an accelerated pace on their thirteenth year of age. According to my memory, that time, on average, before thirteen girls were usually taller than boys, and boys were usually a lot shorter than their mother. When these boys reached thirteen, suddenly they were one head taller than their mother and the girls. Hence, I noted that thirteen years old is a critical time for a teenage boy. If I could improperly say, thirteen years old is “the tipping point”.
Nowadays, probably because nutritional factor (or else, I honestly don’t know…) I noticed that youngsters back in my country are matured quicker (physically) and, maybe, earlier. When I visited my junior high school, the students, on average, were bigger and taller than me-an undergraduate student at that time. As a living evidence, my middle brother is also way taller than me. I couldn’t really comprehend what’s going on, how could they become so-gigantic-so-early? What happened?
These mixed memories brings me to a constant self-doubt when I tried to buy a winter jacket for my youngest brother, the 12-years-old-Asian-boy back home whom I haven’t met for more than a year. Whatever decision I make will be problematic. I cannot depend on anything else than my undependable estimation. How big is he now? What exactly is his body size? Has he reached “the tipping point”? What if I bought based on size-misjugdement and it doesn’t fit him?
When I saw him by skype, he seemed small “as usual”, but my father said that now he is as big as me, he uses my T-shirts, he grows so fast, and so on, and so on. Does it mean he already reached “the tipping point”? Does it mean he is bigger than my mother? But, he doesn’t seem to be! Even when he sit side by side with my mother, he’s still a lot smaller!
… or is it the the visual effect of video-cam?
Not only that. Being “size-blind” in the Netherlands is also not helping at all. My youngest brother is 12 years old, t-w-e-l-v-e years old! Yet, based on my “stubborn” estimation, he should wear a jacket for 7-8 years old! I cannot recklessly buy the “11-12 years old” size, because I believe Dutch children are way bigger than Asian children. Or is it just because I refuse to believe that my little brother is not little anymore?
My first attempt to buy a winter jacket for my brother was not convincing to me. Today, I brought back a jacket that I bought two days ago in HEMA. In Netherlands, as a rule, you can return items (such as clothes) that are purchased maximum three days before (or a week, I’m not sure. It depends on the shop, I guess). I’m not really aware about the details, but as far as I know, I always try not to remove the price tag and save the receipt carefully for three days, just in case I would like to return it. Some shops will only allow customers to exchange the item with other item in that shop. Sometimes customer have to add extra money if the item they want is more expensive than the item they want to return. For my surprise, today I just found out that in HEMA, customer could literally return the item. They even have a special cashier for it. I got the whole money back and run to another shop across HEMA, which provides more product variety for teenagers’ winter jacket.
I have a bad habit of buying present for others based on my feelings and unreliable imagination. I mean, it’s hard for me to surrender my guts and believe the quantitative measurement. This time, I could not avoid to at least try to use my logic in determining which size I should buy for my brother. What to do, what to do, what to do? It comes down to me and the jacket. What I did, a little hopelessly:
- I tried to use my palm to get a slight of self-assured measurement. And … “nope, totally failed, this method doesn’t work,” said my inner measurer.
- I put it on, considering what my father said about my brother being the same size as myself (assuming that my size stays constant for more than a year). And … nope, it just doesn’t feel right. “How come he can be this big right now?” speak me to the mirror.
- and finally … “Gosh, these numbers are useless! Could I just ask my father to measure the size with a ruler and tell me the exact result …?” Without clear reason I rejected this idea. I just … didn’t like it very much.
My fingers moved to the jacket for 9-10 years old. My feeling said it’s still too big. So I bravely bought the jacket for 7-8 years old and not thinking any further. I didn’t try it on, I didn’t even measure it. I sealed my inner-dialogue with a final sentence, “Winter jacket is better tight than loose, so as to prevent the mindless wind from coming inside the jacket.”
The cashier asked me whom is it for. When I answer, “my brother”, she wrapped it with a beautiful paper like a Christmas present. I like this gesture and went outside to the dark 6 pm evening with a smile.
I turned on the red bike lamp and attached it to the back side of my jacket’s belt (to avoid losing it … I put my previous red bike lamp on the back of my bike and it was stollen 😦 ). I turned on the white lamp on the front of my bike. Okay, ready to go!
Just as I rode my bike across, the wind started to blow mercilessly! I started to hear the sound of rain hitting the ground! “Perfectly Great, very out of a sudden!” I spontaneously cursed #!%! non-stop while I have to go aside and tried to open the neck zipper of my jacket (if you open the neck zipper, a hat will pop out). It was so difficult to open it and a Dutch middle aged lady helped me.
I put the hat and added my ear muff when I realized that … the rain was a bit solid and WHITE! It was small, crisp, white dots all over the ground which suddenly turned transparent and gone, melt into water … and vanished. Still, I witness the first snow this year, around 6 pm near HEMA! It only lasts for 5 seconds but still … snoooowwww!!!
What a feeling … snow, snow, SNOW! It’s coming! Today!
… which reminds me of a conversation I had yesterday with Indonesian students in an Indonesian food bazaar. The old batch remembered that around this time last year, the snow had already fallen, but this year the snow hasn’t come yet, maybe it’s late. I wonder how accurate is their memory. I don’t really like the snow. It’s too cold for me and I don’t have any sentimental feelings about the snow.
Unknowingly, I secretly want the snow to come, like, “now”/directly at that time. I responded to the conversation carelessly and weirdly, something like “challenging the sky”.
“Really? Is it supposed to be snowing already? But where is the snow? WHERE?”
I asked heartily to the sky, my hand busy pointing up. One of my friend replied, “Careful there. You cockily said Where? Where? and the snow will suddenly appear in front of your nose, you see???”
But, nope, no snow yesterday.
The snow waited a day to show up in the dark before me … and I can brag to myself that the sky is answering my challenge. So I run back to my room and write this note, as a self reminder for the first snow I see in The Hague in 2011, in the midst of buying the perfect winter jacket for my youngest brother.
I hope he could witness the snow too. Soon.