Toddlers don't outgrow clothes quite so quickly. The "outgrown" box sits unused for months at a time; I almost forget that it's even there. If it weren't for the changing of the seasons, I might forget to switch out clothing entirely, and my poor kids would be going to high school in stretched-out 2T pants.
But the weather turned cool, and I started reaching into the back of Dorothy's closet for the long-sleeved shirts that had been shoved back to make way for the tank tops and sundresses. And they all seemed too short, so I pulled a few shirts out of the 3T box, laughing as I did so - there's no way 3T shirts will fit her! But they did. So I dug a little deeper, and pulled out a sleeper. It seemed so ridiculously huge, I brought it down to show Jeremy. "Look at this sleeper! There's no way it's going to fit her! It would practically still fit Valerie!" I put it on Dorothy to prove my point. But, um, er... It fit. Perfectly.
So, I tackled the Big Project. Weeding out most of the 2T clothes, and transitioning the 3T into the closet. And they all seem so BIG. She can't possibly be that BIG! But she is. It seems like Valerie was just wearing these shirts! Most of them hadn't even been sorted into the 3T box yet, they were still sitting in the "outgrown" box, waiting to be sorted. I looked back through my pictures, and I was stunned to find pictures of Valerie wearing these very same clothes from within the last YEAR.
I don't know why it's hitting me so hard to notice Dorothy growing up all of a sudden. Maybe because my attention is divided this time, so it happens without my noticing. Maybe because she really is bigger than her sister was at the same age (she's not yet 2, and she's already wearing clothes her sister was wearing at 3). Maybe because Dorothy was already a toddler a year ago when Valerie was wearing those outfits. Or maybe because I bought them cute, little matching outfits, and seeing Dorothy in Valerie's half of the set is that much more surreal.
I found a shirt in the 3T box that I remembered having matching shorts. I went to Valerie's drawer, and there were the shorts, still in Valerie's rotation. And I suddenly remembered that pre-schoolers grow, too, even more imperceptibly than toddlers. Those pants Valerie was wearing yesterday really did show a bit more ankle than they probably should. And far too many of her shirts barely cover her belly button. And the Big Project of sorting and purging Dorothy's clothes suddenly got a whole lot bigger. It looks like I'm going to be sorting a lot of clothes this weekend. You know, when I'm not looking through (not-so) old pictures and shaking my head with dismay.