The queen-sized bed was covered in mounds of gently used infant clothing, hand-me-downs from a colleague whose daughter is now two years old. I stood there, paralyzed. What could one child possibly do with this many articles of clothing? Most were "made in China" (Kenya, Malaysia, Bulgaria, Mexico). The variety defied limits: tiny cream sweaters hand-crafted in Italy, stylish baby-sized Levi's, sunshine-colored dresses with little matching underpants and hats, red-trimmed Onesies with ladybugs marching across the front, mini purple stretch pants with a flower on the seat, a bit of blue, a splash of green, and pink, pink, PINK.
The most baffling aspect of this organization project that stretched over several days was the deciphering of sizes. A flower-embroidered sweater marked "6-9 months" was the same size as a ruffly shirt sized "12 months." A "9 months" peach print sleeper landed on the same heap with denim overalls labeled "18-24 months." The wild inconsistency was astonishingly consistent: every piece of clothing was a surprise. When I finally figured this out, I started laying them one atop the other to "measure" the sizes. Using this method, I eventually bagged the clothes in four or five rough size categories. (The number of bags was much higher; the surplus will be shared with friends and donated to a nonprofit.)
Trying to navigate the erratic sizing reminded me of trying to read a literary piece in which every third word is gibberish. (In fact, such literature exists. Take, for example, Shel Silverstein's collection, Runny Babbit, or Lewis Carroll's poem, Jabberwocky. I suggested to CP that he use the latter as a tool for teaching parts of speech to his seventh graders, like Mad Libs.) The two experiences differ in that the nonsensical literature makes much more sense.