This time of year is bittersweet for me. Watching frazzled mothers taking their children school shopping brings back many memories of shopping for my own two children.
The excitement of buying new clothes and attempting to negotiate with the children to get items that are within budget but will still pass the peer inspection can cause major meltdowns for parents and children.
I remember the scenes with my two children—especially my daughter. When she reached her teen years, shopping became a nightmare for both of us. “But Mom, you just don’t understand. Nobody wears this style anymore!” These words echo through my mind when I see moms and kids going through what must be the universal conflict parents and children have every year at this time.
The other day at a local department store I observed a very interesting exchange between a pre-teen girl and her mother. The girl was trying to convince her mother to buy a very expensive pair of shoes. I heard the young girl; exclaim to her mother, “Burt Mom, nobody wears that brand anymore. If I wear these to school my life will be ruined. I will be so embarrassed.” I could see the conflict in the mother’s mind. Should she buy the shoes so her daughter will be happy or convince her darling daughter to buy a less expensive pair of shoes? Just when I thought she was going to give in to her daughter’s pleadings, the daughter’s attention was diverted to a more sensible and less expensive. A smile crossed both their faces and peace was restored. As they paid for their purchases and walked out the door arm in arm, I smiled and thought of the many times I had gone through the same scenario with my own daughter.
]My mind was suddenly jolted back to the present when I hard a familiar voice saying, “Nanny, why can’t I have these shoes? I turned my attention back to my twelve year old granddaughter and the only shoes in the entire store that would make her totally happy with her life and with me. After much discussion and a few tears, we found another pair that would help her retain her social status and restore my role as hero in her eyes.
You see, although my children are grown, I now have four grandchildren to take care of and all of them will be in school this year. Although the years have passed since my children were in school, shopping for the rite of passage known as ‘the first day of a new school year has changed little over time.
No matter how many tempers flare and disagreements arise , all is forgiven on that all important first day of school when the most beautiful and intelligent children in the world wave ‘goodbye’ as they step on the bus to embark on a fresh new adventure.
*Since I wrote this , the twelve year old will be going to college this fall. The adventure continues however. I now have a sixth grader, a fourth grader and a third grader. It looks like this rite of passage will continue in my life for a few more years.