Back-to-school shopping

The first rule of back-to-school shopping is this: I do not want to look like the moms in those silly back-to-school commercials. Who dresses them? I am not that square.

So long as everyone agrees that if asked the correct response is that I am the totally cool older sister, I will accompany you to the mall. Compliance will net you both a pair of new shoes. Failure to comply means I will pick the shoes.

This was the threat used to take my two teenagers shopping for new clothes for school, an experience I enjoyed so much more than I anticipated because my children used their own spending money.

A summer of babysitting, grass-cutting, household chores and family guilt donations gave them a solid budget with which to buy clothes that I may or may not agree with. My satisfaction? The poor dears thought they were rich. Is it wrong that I enjoyed watching the reality of the cost of dressing themselves sink in? Reality is a cruel teacher. Cha-ching.

Gone are the days when I picked out their clothes, bargain hunting in the cheapest locales, buying things a little too big so they could grow into them. Instead, I spent an hour in a store with anime T-shirts and movie geek memorabilia, and realized I am totally out of touch with this generation.

There I stood in retail hell with death metal blaring out the store’s stereo and a sales guy that looked like his face was a tackle box, with ear lobes stretched long enough that elephants could jump through them, should they see fit, and me praying my teenagers would hurry up. I didn’t even know what the T-shirts they selected were referring too, or if what they bought was offensive, inappropriate or going to get them kicked out of school. All I know is, when sales guy tallied their purchases, the death metal music seemed appropriate.

Moving on, it was amusing to watch how these kids of mine have become so different in fashion and shopping style. The boy would try on jeans, only because he didn’t want the droopy drawer fiasco, but he drew the line at shirts. He liked one store and one store only, and so I am horrified to say the word “American” is on just about everything he owns. Ugh. He’s all about the brand name it seems.

The girl child had a more methodological approach, finding pieces that would pair with other pieces to create outfits. Clearly the shopping gene skipped a generation, because she loved this day. She would hold things up and I would be the mean mom (who totally acted like a way cooler sister), explaining to her that leggings require one to cover one’s bottom, and that tops were meant to actually reach the top of one’s pants, and that nobody needs to see that much of your bellybutton in math class. Yep, I just became that mom.

The shoes were a whole other matter. My son’s feet grew two sizes this summer. His shoes now come with paddles. And the girl discovered a little bit of heel just adds a little bit more sass. And so it begins.

I am so not ready for this school year – but they are, and that’s good enough for me.



Kelly Waterhouse