Every August, like mid-to-late August, I have a tradition of taking all three of my kids shopping for back to school clothes, not unlike every other mother with school-age kids. And every year I imagine it being fun, and dare I say…exciting! Wandering through the multitudes of racks, picking out collared shirts for the boys, and khaki pants…gorgeous dresses for my girlie. Oooh, and new tights, hair bows and all things frilly. Imagination is cruel.
Reality is, I somehow always pick the hottest day of the year to start this adventure. Reality is, my kids, while usually pretty decent, seem to turn into rotten, devilish creatures, who complain, argue, disagree and torture me and each other for those seemingly endless hours of shopping.
And with teen & preteen boys, and a soon to be 9 year old girl, it makes for an interesting shopping experience. I explain before we leave the house, “We’re gonna start with the oldest first. Boys are easier. It’ll be fast…” I hear myself talking and even I don’t believe it.
Before we get to the store, while still in the car, I mention it again – you know, just so we’re all clear. I want them to fully understand the order of events, so we are all on the same page. If they understand the order, they won’t be asking to go first, right? They’ll understand that each of them will have an opportunity for picking out clothing. Each one will have time to select tops & bottoms…maybe even a new set of underwear & socks. My gosh, the possibilities are endless!
Before we get out of the car, they’re already arguing over who is going to push the cart. Really? R E A L L Y? Walking in, we head to the boy’s section. Remember? This was the order of events. Ooh, I spot a sale on Ralph Lauren polo shirts – yes! We must get these! In every color. Oooh, and khaki pants…yes, grab those too! I envision my boys walking into school looking every bit as dapper as I’d dreamed when I first birthed them.
I’m met with resistance. Apparently teens & preteens don’t wear collared shirts anymore. Really? Band shirts? Really? That’s all you want are band shirts? And jeans. Band shirts and jeans. Who are these kids? These cannot be my kids.
Well, there’s always my girlie. Surely she will not let me down. No, not my angel. Not the girl I always wanted. No, surely she will love the dresses, bows and all things frilly.
Leaving the memory of the boys’ clothing behind me, I race to the dresses. I’m already imagining the wide selection, the choices, the colors…and like a slap in the face, I am shocked to see leggings, jeans, graphic tees and tanks. Wait, what? Am I in the wrong section? Where are the dresses? Where are those gorgeous smocks in floral patterns? Where are the jumpers? Oh yes, I’m reminded by my soon-to-be 9 year old, “This is not the 70s mom.”
Um. That hurt. That stung.
And while I’m extremely disappointed and sad, I see the joy on her face as she runs to the Descendants jean jackets, the kitty shirts, unicorn tops and all things emoji. I’m going to pay for these atrocities? I’m going to spend money on these non-dresses? I look around again…hoping that I’ll see just one dress. Just give me hope for the future. Just one dress please.
While in line, and yes, there is always a line. You know, the kind of line that runs along the main entrance and down into the luggage section. That kind of line. The kids are eye-rolling, shifting their weight from one foot to the other and making “exhausted” noises like they’ve just run up and down 200 flights of stairs.
I want out. I’m silently screaming. “GET ME OUT OF THIS GOD FORSAKEN PLACE!” And yet I smile, as I finally make it to the register. It feels like we’ve been there forever. But here I am, I’ve made it to the counter. I can unload all of these band shirts & jeans, kitty tops and leggings.
I breathe a sigh of relief. I’m here. I’ve done it. Back to school shopping is done until next year.
Wait, where’s my wallet?