The Baby Onesie That Defied Extinction by Andrea Santo Felcone

This is one of those “don’t judge” kind of stories. A few weeks ago, I was having coffee with a friend, when she casually rooted through her bag and pulled out a baby onesie. Not just any baby onesie, but a dinosaur-patterned baby onesie, that my firstborn used to wear when he was an infant. He is now 14 years old! By my careful estimation, she has had that dinosaur onesie in her possession for 13 ½ years! (Generally, I only save “exclamation marks” for PTA emails where I try to look more energetic than I am, but here it seems fitting.)

baby clothes on clothes lineNow, don’t let those “exclamation marks” fool you—they are there to demonstrate the somewhat shocking nature of what transpired, not to incite judgment. I don’t judge my friend for the oversight. Things can go astray. She’s the mother of four, so she has every right to stick her hand in her bag and pull out any number of things, i.e. wax lips, half-eaten lollipops, deflated rubber balls, prayer shawls–without one word from me. Did I mention she also has a husband, and a menagerie of pets (it’s like a farm–almost)? Anyway, she has a lot of living things to tend to, and this inanimate onesie took a backseat. And, honestly, there are things that should just be returned no matter how long you’ve held onto them, and, another woman’s child’s onesie is one of them.

So, there we are with our cappuccinos and the long-lost onesie and I’m sorry to admit—it was never a favorite of mine. Sure, I was happy to see it, (sweet memories flooded back) but, aesthetically, it just wasn’t a favorite. Its little cartoon dinosaurs are misshapen; its colors reminiscent of the early 1990s–this was a hand-me-down’s hand-me-down. (Another dear friend had given me this onesie after her three children were done with it—so it had seen a lot of action.) Maybe you’d hope that in this reunion, I would have held that onesie up (tears welling in my eyes) and danced around that Panera’s booth. Or, maybe humiliated myself by sniffing it for any lingering traces of ‘new baby smell’, but no. I did neither. I mostly stared at it, suspiciously. Why had this particular onesie come back to me? Of all the onesies I’ve ever owned, why the dinosaur onesie? And why now?

Honestly, if I had had this onesie back when my son had originally outgrown it, I would have tossed it in the “donate to charity” bin. It wouldn’t have made the cut for my special bag of “memory clothes”. My bag was reserved for only very special onesies, like …

The Clint Eastwood Orange Onesie of Reckoning: This was the very first article of baby clothing I ever owned. It was a teeny, tiny orange onesie given to me by a friend, right before my first son was born. It came paired with teeny, tiny socks, the socks that would send my husband into near panic attacks. He could not get over how tiny the baby was going to be to fit into those socks. I would stare at that onesie, mentally picturing my yet-to-be-born baby. That orange onesie was where everything became real–the Day of Parental Reckoning was coming and that onesie was proof. Weighted down in nervous expectation, thrill, and delight, the Orange Onesie of Reckoning was like the Clint Eastwood of onesies; it practically screamed: “This baby’s comin’; get a grip, people.”

Nestled alongside Clint, in the special bag, is the …

The White Onesie of Wonder and Verbal Discovery. This started out its life as a generic, white, baby onesie. But one day, it magically transformed. I will never forget, I was drinking a yogurt smoothie, while snuggling with my new baby. My baby looked up at the purple bottle cap of that smoothie, curiosity brimming in his little infant face, and I said, “Yes, son, everything has a name; that’s known as a ‘purple cap,’” and he smiled in that knowing way, like, “Yes, I thought as much.” That was when I discovered my son was a verbal genius. (You probably have a similar onesie in your special bag from a similar discovery about your child.)

The point here, these onesies are in the special bag because they are special. They marked events and moments in my life as a new mother, and my son as a new human being on this planet. I doubt I’m alone in stockpiling these special baby clothes. (My bag, admittedly, is probably bigger than it needs to be.)

But, why had this particular onesie come back?

What are you, dinosaur onesie? Clearly I misjudged you.

Perhaps you are the equivalent of the “Prodigal Son” except in dinosaur onesie form? Or maybe you are The Darwinian Onesie, a reminder that only “the fittest survive” even though your misshapen form seems to indicate otherwise?

Or, maybe I should stop analyzing you and just accept you have earned your rightful place in my special bag? For you, sir, you are … the Dinosaur Onesie that Defied Extinction. And as such, you deserve a special place of honor right next to the Clint Eastwood Onesie, yes, that should just about “make his day”….

It sure made mine.


Do you have a treasured article (or two) of baby clothing?

If so, let me know …

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