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Back-To-School Shopping Tip: Bring Tequila

Maddie and a friend went back-to-school shopping yesterday for a couple new outfits for school. In general, Maddie’s good about letting me go shopping for her by myself; she trusts my judgment, gives me a few pointers color- and style-wise, and is happy to see me bring home the bags from a consignment store. But for the first day of school, she’s come to enjoy shopping with a friend – getting excited, squealing over colors and fashions, and gearing herself up for the fall. And yes, it might seem a tad early, but we’re going on vacation (in case I haven’t mentioned it yet today) soon and I don’t want this hanging over my head when we get back.

May I just say, I’m glad it’s over.

My friend Mary warned me the night before: “You should know, we went to a store today for some basics and everything I picked up got either an eye roll, pity, or contempt. This year is different. Be ready.”

That morning I ate my Wheaties and climbed into the car with my sweet, young daughter and her friend. As we rolled up to Justice – oh, yes, my friends, my oldest has graduated to Justice – the girls began shrieking in delight. I tell you, it was like they caught a glimpse of the Fab Four, circa 1967. With great trepidation, my friend and I girded our metaphorical loins and entered the store.

Can I just say, the entire store looks like the 1980s ate an entire dressing room full of beauty pageant gowns, and then threw them all up?

All over a leopard?

There were sequined scarves. There were sequined hats. There were honest-to-goodness sequined gloves. And of course, sequined shirts, skirts, leggings, jeans, PAJAMAS, the list is endless.

Mary and I stood there in dismay as the girls ran amok through the store, practically rolling in the clothes in their fervor. I’d sworn before I walked into the store that I would try VERY HARD to not say “no” just because I didn’t like something. It may have more bling or sass than I’d like, but Maddie’s forming her own tastes and opinions and I need to not squelch that. “I will not say ‘no’, I will not say ‘no’,” I chanted to myself over and over again. And then –

“NO!” I nearly screamed as Maddie held up a u-necked 60s-style trapeze-shaped leopard-print dress with sequins all around the neck, a hot pink band near the bottom, and then six. More. Inches. Of sequins.

“What I mean,” I continued more quietly, “Is that this dress is probably too fancy for school. And church,” I hastened to add as she began to open her mouth again.

Let’s draw a veil over the next thirty minutes of debating, bargaining, and plethora of shocked “you have absolutely no taste” looks that went on. Let’s skip over the dressing room and the attendant fashion shows that came with it, hips slung out and shoulders posed jauntily. And finally, for the love of all that is good, let’s forget how much money I actually spent on two freakin’ outfits that, while neon-bright and covered in some amount of bling were, I assure you, the absolute rock-bottom compromise I could make. And still live with myself.

Simply to cleanse our visual palates we went to a Gapkids outlet which seemed, by contrast, almost spartan in its austerity, nearly puritanical in its fashion restraint. We found a couple lovely things there and finally headed home for the day.

And when it came time to show everything off to Daddy and Cora, the Justice stuff was painstakingly discussed and displayed and tried on, while the Gapkids bag stayed firmly closed.

“Maddie, did you get something at the Gap?” Brian finally asked, gesturing at the bag.

“Oh, yeah, a couple of outfits. They’re pretty nice,” Maddie dismissed them before going back to point out the exquisite bling-work around the bottom of a new pair of leggings.

I have seen the future, and it is be-dazzled.


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