Sunday we made a mad dash to the Outlet Mall to purchase one new outfit (at least) for each of the girls before school starts on Wednesday. Church is 20 minutes west of our house; the outlet mall is 45 minutes east of our house. Church ended at noon and eldest daughter had to be at work back by our house before 4:00. Do the math: 3 daughters + 3 outfits + less than 3 hours + one less than patient dad.
Shopping with the dad was both helpful and problematic. Helpful in that he saw the sign to purchase gift cards and decided that would probably be the best way to manage the day. Since how we have learned to do back-to-school clothes shopping is to set a $ limit and let them figure out how to stretch it, he loaded up three gift cards usable as if it were an American Express card, and sent them on their way. There was also a coupon book that came with the gift cards, so the eldest two immediately saw the benefit of buying items together and splitting the savings (30% off purchases over $50; buy two get the second half-off… that kind of thing).
Youngest daughter was a little deer-in-the headlights, but managed a few things. We sat outside one store with a very long line while the eldest two waited to pay, and decided that husband and youngest would go to a jeans store while I waited for the others. Sitting in the sun, waiting, and I get a text from husband saying “she’s trying on 4 pairs.” “Great,” I respond. “I’m hopeful,” he says.
When I show up ten or so minutes later, she’s tried on 8 pairs and only found one that fits. There’s a sale there–buy two pairs of denim, get any one other item for free. Husband can’t walk away from the word “free,” so we comb the store looking for another pair of jeans. When I go back to the fitting room, I discover that the reason she isn’t not finding anything she likes is because she is trying on the wrong size with the hope that the next pair the same size will look good. As soon as we move up a size (much to her disdain, but that is the stuff of being in 8th grade), she hits the motherlode. And my husband hits the roof.
Why does she have to try on so many pairs? He keeps hissing at me as I’m dashing from the front of the store (where the juniors jeans are) to the far back (where the fitting rooms are). Not being helpful, I tell him. We are pinned for time. Other two have been to another store, made purchases, and are back. Eldest is nervous about being late for work. Husband is pacing and starting to snarl. “Why can’t she just pick two and lets go.”
Once we are in the car (and believe me, I’m saving you some hairy details by skipping ahead here), my husband starts to gnash and fume again. I’m sitting there thinking how happy I am that my daughters can shop quickly, decisively, and without a lot of guidance from me and make decent choices while he’s wondering why our youngest cannot shop like a 52-year-old man. Finally, I said to him: when you are a 13 year old girl, or can say that you have been a 13 year old girl, you will get it. Until then, keep your mouth shut.
Why, indeed, can she not do everything as he does it? Why not order her jeans from Lands End and be done with it? Yes, why can’t she buy her jeans at the Dad Jeans Store?
This is, of course, a fight we continue to have about just about everything–that the girls have minds of their owns and wish to use them, even when it flies in the face of his need for speed and efficiency, especially when it challenges his world view of logic and reason. My daughters don’t live in the world of one-jeans-fit-all. Neither does their father. Just as he used to get cranky when we would walk at the pace of a 5 year old and his legs longed to stretch to fit his 6’3″ frame, he gets cranky when the rest of us don’t match his pace in shopping or parenting or political world views.
My job, I realize, is to remind him that you don’t come out of the womb 6’3″, any more than you start out with savvy shopping skills.
Still and all, we got it done. The girls each came home happy and with a complete outfit or two and they even had $$ left on their cards to spend on other needs elsewhere. And yet, my assessment of success and my husband’s don’t quite match up. I wonder what we will have to talk about when these girls leave home?