I just got back from the mall after school shopping with my soon-to-be sophomore and her friend. It’s only been a year since we tackled the stores for this event, but after today, I now know why ‘Bonus Dad’ opted to go camping, roll around in elk urine and sh*t in a hole rather than go to the mall three days before school starts. As if the crowds weren’t bad enough, my teenage daughter decided to wear a flannel that hung lower than her shorts, pretty much making it look like she was walking around naked from the waist down. As soon as we walked into the first store, she was flocked by sales people who, I am sure, were calculating their commissions in their head. I mean, why not? Everybody wants to help the girl who comes in pant-less. Obviously, she needs some clothes.
Thank goodness it wasn’t too painful. She grabbed a few things and off to the dressing room we went. There’s a secret mom’s club back there, you know. All the 40-something women who were probably well dressed in the 80’s now sitting around in the big shirts and leggings, looking worn out and tired repeating the same line, “Wait, you want me to buy you another white shirt after I spent $70.00 on the last one that you never wore?” When I heard that, I wanted to reach out and hug that mom. You know, offer her some comfort. I feel you, sister.
Next time I go, I’m bringing mini bottles of alcohol to sell out of my purse to all the moms half smiling, panicking about the bill they’re about to receive. I quickly decided I am going to open a store in the mall where moms can get pedicures and lounge on plush chairs while being served martinis by a shirtless Italian named “Lorenzo.” I even invented little devices in my head where we can approve purchases from afar, never once having to leave to rummage through the sales racks.
At one point, she mentioned to me, “You should get a pair of vans.” Oh, sister, I had them. My generation invented them. Just because I walk around now in support shoes with odor inserts does not mean I wasn’t cool at some point.
Just because the guy at one of the kiosks passed over you and offered me some free wrinkle cream does not mean I was not cool. It took everything I had not to shout out, “I was cool once! I was cool once! Dammit!” Ok, even if I wasn’t, your dad was. He was cool. He was so cool. And he had great hair.
I remember being a teenager going to the mall with my mom. You know, walking two steps ahead or three steps behind. I was lucky my mom was a reader and could sit for hours in the dressing rooms reading her books, and I was thankful she didn’t actually vomit every time she thought she might when she saw the bill. And while I was sitting in one of the stores today with my own child, Big Brother must have been watching because as I was reminiscing about my teenager-hood, “You Might Think” by the Cars came on the speakers just in time for me to hear my sweet girl shriek in delight proclaiming, “these are so cool!” What, you might ask was she referring to? I had to look twice as I saw her holding none other than a fanny pack. Yes, a fricking fanny pack! And they’re cool now! What? Some days she can pretty much hate every move I make but suddenly, the sh*t from our youth, like Vans and fanny packs are cool? Not just that, but guess what else is back? Rainbow shirts. Yes, all my 40ish year old friends. Rainbow shirts. I need not say more.
But, one thing I didn’t do as a kid was shop at Victoria’s Secret. Maybe there wasn’t one around. Maybe it was just for adults. All I can remember is if you wanted anything but a six pack of bikini cut undies from Sears, you had to somehow convince your mom to drive you to “Frederick’s of Hollywood,” which wasn’t happening in my house. Well, now they have “Pink,” and it’s the place to go. I couldn’t help but chuckle at the fact that, there we were, in a lingerie shop, and she’s searching for thongs while I am looking for perfume. When did I become an adult? What has happened here? SHE STOLE MY LIFE.
I’m not that old! I mean it was just yesterday I was at the mall with my friends, people watching and being dumb and shopping for the latest, cutest pair of overalls. Now, the teenage sales people are talking about what version of the keto diet they’re on and how they need to lose weight. What the hell happened to “Hot Dog on a Stick” and since when do you need to lose weight when you’re already a size 3? Now, you have to make sure you get the jeans with all the holes in them. Like, you actually pay for jeans with holes in them. Not little holes. No. Big ones. And not just in the knee. All the way up their thighs! And not a hole they earned from playing hard or working hard, either. Just holes. Rips. All over. Now, we’re paying a hundred dollars for them not to be pre-shrunk, but to be pre-ripped!
Remember when we were kids and we patched the holes? I actually remember going to the fabric store (remember when our moms made us clothes?) and begging my mom to buy me patches so I didn’t have to throw my jeans away. Because once they had holes in them, they became UNUSABLE, unless we cut them and made jean shorts out of them. But, even then you had to cut them above the rip and sometimes they were too short to wear in public. Three inches above the knee was pushing it but now, these kids are wearing shorts that don’t cover any more than a bikini bottom does. And not only that, but then their pockets are hanging out under the jeans and onto their thigh. How the hell are they supposed to carry their keys or illegal cigarettes in there? I try not to judge the girls who wear shorts with their butts hanging out. I am sure they are nice kids but man, I’m pretty sure Mr. Levi Strauss is turning over in his grave.
I did have to laugh though when I thought she got stuck in the dressing room for a minute. I flashed back to the time she accidentally locked herself in the pantry. Oh, how I should have slipped her math homework in there and told her she could come out when it was done.
Remember when we went to the mall and had to have an actual note from our parents to use their credit card? Not anymore. Oh no, these kids can just waltz right in and tap their iPhone for their purchase and nobody really cares. Remember when we used to go to the mall and we went to actually go shopping? The girls dress up now like they’re going to a club, people. I’m surprised they don’t charge a cover and give them wristbands and have bouncers in the food court. Speaking of food courts, I am serious when I ask what happened to Hot Dog on a Stick. Seeing your friends wearing those striped uniforms and silly hats jumping up and down on lemons to make lemonade was the highlight of my day. Now, it’s organic this and organic that. But then again, I guess these kids need to eat organic if they’re going to be wearing a string for underwear and bralettes instead of a real bra. You know, the kind that actually keep your boobs in place. I guess they will figure it out when they’re 40 trying to tape up two pounds of fat in their chest wishing they had invested in some underwire.
I just don’t remember us being like this, I honestly don’t. But then again, I guess our parents had the same complaints about our clothes, our music and our habits. I feel like I need to write my mom an apology letter for all the hell I put her through. Maybe I can attach one of the pictures we did at Glamor Shots. Do they do that anymore? Do you remember? It was quite the treat to get your makeup and hair done at the mall, but the problem was not only did everybody have the same outfits on, but we all had the same hair. Curly for short hair girls, wavy for long hair girls. It’s probably not around anymore because who needs it when you have Instagram and Snap-Chat filters.
Don’t tell anybody, but I secretly love the filters. They’re fun. Silly. You can be a dog if you want to, wear a mustache, be an alien, sometimes a bunny, and you can have really cool battle of the filters contests with your teenager. I don’t care how mad at me she is, or how much she thinks I don’t understand – challenge her to a Snap-Chat filter contest and were BFF’s again.
Oh yes, teenagers. I never thought I would be that mom. You know, the one who walked around half confused by them. No, I was going to be the cool mom, the one who “got it,” the one who my kids could identify with, the one who my kids were always honest with, who they never fought with, who they saw as somebody who really understood them. But, I guess this whole mom/dad/teenager/what the frick are you doing thing is a rite of passage and one we are just going to have to laugh our way through. We might not laugh as hard as we did looking back at pictures of us in bicycle shorts and t-shirts, or when we remember the long summer days when we tanned in the middle of the backyard using baby oil on or skin and laying on tin foil, or teasing our hair up as high as it would go, or layering our socks different colors, or wishing our crush would invite us to the next “John Hughes” movie, only to be too scared to go with them alone so we had to convince them to set up their friend with our friend before you would say yes.
I hate to break it to you moms and dads, but we were just as dumb. We wore stupid sh*t. We did stupid things. We talked like valley girls and broke the rules. We had some pretty awful music and maybe we didn’t text, but we spent just as much time passing notes. Yes, my friends. I hate to break this to you, but we were jerks, too.
I can’t wait until she’s my age. I’m going to give her kids money to shop at the mall and tell them their mom would LOVE to take them. And when mom calls me 15 hours later crying, I’m going to sit back, put my feet up, sip my martini and laugh my ass off. Yep, sure am.
This story was written for Love What Matters by Diana Stefano of Idaho. You can follow her work on her author Facebook page. Submit your story own here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.
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