Every mother knows that shopping with their teen for clothing is something that takes some real mental and physical preparation. A mother knows that a trip to find a red pair of tennis shoes could involve a 10-hour day filled with traffic, popping in and out of stores, rude or indifferent sales clerks, and it could result in tears, regretted words, or a trunk full of “condolence purchases” you made after she/he couldn’t decide on the right pair of kicks.
It could result in watching your 13-year-old head to school wearing the $60 blue jeans (that took you 30 minutes to find in each of the eight stores you stopped in) and seeing the holes she ripped in them and bleach stains you know weren’t already there, and wondering, “If she wanted to change them, why did she buy that pair instead of the ones already made to look like that?” — which in itself is a frightening preview (that you will subconsciously overlook) for what you will be exposed to when she begins dating.
A mother needs to first wean themselves and their child from any caffeinated or energy-inducing element at least 24 hours before The Hunt to assure no one gets hurt. They need to have a plan: Sales fliers? Check. Coupons or discount cards? Check. Store locations and hours? Check. Cash, debit and credit cards? Check. List? Check.
And you better double-check. If you don’t know what specific items you are looking for or don’t know what store carries what, your child will begin seeing their boyfriend or girlfriend as a likely “living partner” and you will muse on why you didn’t think a little longer on birth control.
I once went to University Park Mall with my eldest daughter to buy jeans. Those of you that have never been there will have to imagine an amusement park-sized parking lot created by experimental maze engineers that will eventually lead you into retail overload.
She went into no fewer than 15 stores. She slowly scanned the merchandise; picked up a hanger and then replaced it; picked up another; replaced; sighed heavily; went to a pile of jeans; unfolded a pair; turned them left and right; held them to her waist; wadded and returned them; went to another display; perused it like a cheetah around a lame doe; picked up a pair ... you get the picture.
We spent about 20-30 minutes in each store, involved in one degree of the process or another (“scoping,” trying on, judging, asking if I liked it, trying on another, rolling her eyes at least once at myself and at no less than two sales clerks, sighing, claiming, “I am SO fat!” then tossing the pants and claiming “I don’t know why I even CAME to THIS store anyway. Everyone KNOWS it’s lame.”)
She tired on no fewer than six pairs each store and after several hours, hadn’t so much as decided upon a pair she might want to take a second look at. I reminded myself how I wished I had had someone to take me shopping when I was her age — especially someone that would actually pay for the clothing.
I reminded myself that happiness is a virtue, that I would die for this child so surely shopping with her was a mere twitch in comparison of effort, and that — doggone it — she really needed some new pants, and jeans were the standard uniform of teenage apparel. We got to the last store that sells jeans (presently there are no fewer than 18 of them at U.P. mall) and she did not have ONE bag because I refused to buy anything besides what we came for.
We revered each other like wild animals from different species caged together without food.
She made excuses about why none of the pair she had tried had worked and that I wasn’t willing to spend enough (sorry, my limit is $40 a pair). I stared at her, hair raised and skin quivering and realized why sometimes wild animals will eat their young.
And then it hit me, from recesses of survival I didn’t know I had — and the Magic Words sprang from my mouth, “Well, I guess, if you can’t find anything you like, I can just pick some out for you later from Kmart.”
We were in the parking lot within 20 minutes with three pair that cost $15 each.