My Son Doesn't Wear Pants And That's––Usually––Fine With Me

by Colleen Dilthey Thomas
Originally Published: 
Courtesy of Colleen Thomas

If I could, I would stay in my pajamas all day. Sometimes, I do. I am almost always in pajamas taking my kids to school and they pray that we don’t get into an accident and their friends catch a look at my pink lamb gown. For me, it’s about comfort. Who wants to be sucked into a pair of yoga pants and have their boobs smooshed into a bra? It sucks, but sometimes you just have to do it. But, I’m not here to talk to you about me and my disdain for underwire; I am here to discuss my son.

He’s seven. He has the cutest freckles you have ever seen. The second the sun hits him he’s like a leopard with new spots. He loves to play Fortnite and baseball. He’s a happy, pleasant kid who gives me very little trouble. My third son, who is basically raising himself. He makes his own lunch and puts his school uniform in the washing machine. He brushes his teeth on time and puts himself to bed when he is tired. He is a mother’s dream come true. But, there is just a teeny tiny little thing that we have to deal with. He doesn’t wear pants. Like, ever.

Courtesy of Colleen Thomas

The second he walks in the door, those suckers hit the floor. He’ll sit in his drawers all day long and never think twice. If school didn’t require a uniform he’d gladly show up in his boxer briefs for the day. My boy hates pants. He is clearly coming by this propensity genetically, as I too am a hater, but I don’t buck all societal norms. I put on clothes. My buddy does not. And you know what, that’s OK.

I am not sure how long this has been going on, but I noticed it about a year ago. We were doing distance learning at the kitchen table, just the two of us, and he would come down in a t-shirt and underpants. There is one infallible rule at my house; you may not sit at my table without a shirt on. This is because I have three sons and a husband and the last thing I want to see when I am eating is armpit hair. So we all stay covered up. You have to wear a shirt. I never mentioned pants, so I left him alone. He was doing his work without giving me much trouble, so what difference would a pair of shorts make? I began documenting his distance learning lessons on Facebook and not once did he ever come down the steps with pants. We weren’t going anywhere during the pandemic, so that is how he stayed. All day. Every day. T-shirts and little tiny boxer briefs in his laundry for months.

Courtesy of Colleen Thomas

But as the weather got warmer he started to go outside a bit more. If he didn’t need pants in the house, he didn’t need them in the backyard, so he didn’t wear them. I had to drop something off at my brother’s house one night and desperate for a ride in the car, he came along. He wouldn’t be getting out, so I didn’t make him get dressed. But when we arrived, his cousins were throwing a ball, so he joined in. On their lawn. In his underwear. In front of the entire neighborhood. Confident as hell, not thinking for one second that it was weird to not have pants on.

It just became normal to see him in his underpants. No one really said anything about it. When prodded as to why he didn’t wear pants, it was simple: “I don’t like ’em. “And that’s all there was to it. Please remember that he has two older brothers, both who tend to be clothed most of the time. Maybe it’s just a third kid thing? He was thrown to the wolves the minute he was born and he’s just trying to make it through without doing any harm.

Courtesy of Colleen Thomas

My husband isn’t wild about the no pants thing. If you really want to know the truth, I think he’s jealous. He wants to be in his own underwear all day and it’s frowned upon in your 40s, so he has to get dressed. But despite his displeasure, he lets him do it. He is a good man. He works hard. He is a great dad. He is not excellent at details. Case in point, I had to run a few errands with my daughter and one of my sons on a Saturday afternoon. My husband got hungry and instead of making something at home, he wanted to go out for lunch. He called the remaining two children to get on their shoes and head to the car. That was his full set of instructions. Put on your shoes. And that is what they did.

The three merry gentlemen walked into the restaurant, put their name on the list and took a seat on a bench. It was no big deal; they’d wait for a table, enjoy a nice meal and go home. Sounded perfect. Until my son looked up at my husband and said, “Oh no! Dad, I made a mistake.” My husband was confused. The kid was just sitting there. He wasn’t playing on a phone, he wasn’t coloring, he wasn’t doing anything. What kind of mistake could he have possibly made? He looked at him. Nothing seemed unusual. He looked like he always did. T-shirt and boxer shorts. And then it hit him: holy shit! He isn’t wearing pants.

Courtesy of Colleen Thomas

Next he scooped him up and discreetly walked out of the restaurant and no one was the wiser, right? Fuck no he didn’t! They stayed for lunch. My husband said they’d waited forever and there was no way he was leaving. And when it came time for them to go to their table, he discreetly picked him up to cover his innocent little buns from being embarrassed, right? Absolutely not! That kid marched from that bench to the table with pride. The restaurant they went to specializes in root beer floats and there was no way he was missing his.

You probably think I found out about it and lost my shit that he kept him out in public in his unmentionables, don’t you? You’re sure that I screamed and yelled and was angry that he didn’t notice that his child wasn’t wearing pants. You know that I told him that I would have never let something like that happen on my watch, right? Hell no! I laughed so hard when I received that text that my body was physically wrecked. In all of my 13 years as a parent, this might be my favorite thing that has ever happened. The kid in the undies, the dad who didn’t notice, the brother who gives zero shits and probably hadn’t even looked at him that morning. All three of them having a root beer float with a burger and a giant side of the fuck its! And I couldn’t love them any more for it.

Courtesy of Colleen Thomas

A dear friend loved his pants-less adventure so much, she bought him the perfect shirt for kid who has everything. “Pants? Don’t you mean leg prisons.” Nothing has changed since that day. He still doesn’t wear pants. And I still don’t care. His unabashed self-confidence will end soon enough; I’m letting him live the dream, in his undies, as long as he wants.

P.S. He obviously wasn’t wearing pants when I got home that afternoon. As soon as I saw him, I gave him a huge hug and quick once over. And I noticed something else that my husband had missed. Not only was he prancing through the restaurant in his undies … they were on backwards.

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