Tuesday, May 14, 2013

I saw the future, and it was bright...blindingly bright

Let it be said now, that I appreciate my mother more than ever for having survived shopping with me during my pre-teen and teenage years.
On Saturday I looked into, actually walked into, my crystal ball and saw what happens when Farkles the Unicorn vomits neon rainbows.

farkles the unicorn
Check out her blog! Buy her book! She is hysterical!
Seriously, I have seen my future, and it is bright. And I mean BRIGHT. Like neon-and-glitter-sequin-I-gotta-wear-shades bright.
Last week my eldest step-daughter, Melany, turned 10. A whole decade of life. Wow! To think I have known her for 7 years. Amazing. 

Along with turning 10, in the last 6-8 months she has also developed an extreme case of tween-ness. Case in point: recently she refused to get dressed and wanted to sit in front of the washing machine/dryer (for 3 hrs) because the only pair of jeans she was willing to wear was dirty. When I made the mistake of suggesting that she put on something else and change when the jeans were clean I was the recipient of THE LOOK and a loud sigh of despair. Translation: OMG! Like, what are you thinking?! Get dressed in something other than that one particular, perfect pair of jeans? How did you make it to adulthood being such a complete idiot?!

Logic be damned!

So, yes, an extreme and possibly terminal case of tween-ness.

But getting back to the birthday. What to buy a 10 year old who claims that "I will like anything you get me" (Which, in case you were wondering, is a euphemism for, 'I can't clearly articulate what I really want, but if you guess correctly and buy it for me I will be thrilled. If you buy me anything else I will hide my extreme disappointment poorly, not to mention accidentally lose the gift within 48 hrs.')

As clothes are always, um... worn, Michael suggested that we buy her an outfit. Good idea?

Not so much.

Let's recap what happened back in December when I bought shirts for each of the girls as a holiday gift. I thought she'd love the shirt I picked since it had glitter, rhinestones, a graphic of a flower or bow or someting, and to my un-tween eye it looked exactly like everything else she wears. Mel said thank you, removed all the tags, secretly tried on the shirt (I never saw this happen but a later description of all the shortcomings of the shirt make me sure that it got onto her body), and put it in the dirty clothes. I washed it and put it on her bed from which it disappeared into the abyss never to be seen again. When it finally came out that she hated the shirt, among other ills the shirt had "weird" sleeves, we had a long talk about 'If you don't like something I buy please tell me. I won't be insulted and we can return it for something you do like.'

Given this experience with tween-hood, I wasn't exactly jumping at the bit for a repeat performance. In the end we decided that a step-mom/daughter birthday shopping outing would be a good thing to do.

The conversation went like this:
Daddy: Mel, for your birthday Ima (me) is going to take you shopping at Old Navy to buy a new outfit. You have a $30 gift card.
Mel: Ok. (note the lack of enthusiasm)

In a moment of inspiration and realizing that tween behavior does not differ substantially from 3.5-yr old behavior, I decided giving choices might be a better approach.
Me: Hey Mel! We don't have to go to Old Navy. We can go to any store you like: Old Navy or The Children's Place, or Justice... (I was running out of potentially acceptable options)
Mel: JUSTICE!!!! (note the extreme enthusiasm)

And so it was decided. 

We arrived at the mall, parked the car, and went in search of Justice. 

As it turned out, finding Justice isn't all that hard. All you have to do is look for the blinding neon, glitter glow that spills out into the center of the mall.
It's hard to describe the visual chaos that greets you as you stand outside Justice. It's like this... 
 ...only brighter and more visually jarring in real life.

It's a bit like staring into the sun if the sun were neon rainbow colored and covered in a layer of multicolored glitter. 
mine eyes have been assaulted by the neon glittered light...

Amazingly, tweens have some cognitive glitch that protects them from getting dizzy and nauseated by the ocular impact and Mel danced right in.

I took a deep breath and followed. Within seconds I was dizzy and bordering on hyperventilation. I took deep, steady breaths and the world righted itself. I honestly could not tell you if they actually had music playing in the store since my elderly synapses could only process the assault on one sense at a time. 

Mel bee-lined for a table of highlighters in cloth form. Her first selection had a combination of neon yellow and pink, glitter, and a Jackson-Pollock splash pattern (ooh, the '80's are back!). Even with a storewide sale of 40% off a t-shirt and pair of running shorts was pushing her $30 budget. 

To counterbalance the ocular-overload I grabbed at the opportunity for a teachable moment on budgeting and basic math (which should tell you something since my predisposition is to move away from anything math related unless armed with a calculator, pencil and paper). 

I convinced Mel to check out the sale rack but discovered that the "sales" on the sale rack were no better than the 40% off on the rest of the store. So we headed back toward the front of the store. Mel then discovered a hot pink and purple combo with black and neon pink Jackson-Pollocked running shorts and fell in love. We found her size and she took the ensemble to the dressing room. 

I knew better than to even suggest that I sit in the dressing room with her (even I'm not that clueless and old...ok, maybe I AM that old, but I'm not that clueless). I sat myself down on the large, round pouffe with several other mothers. 

What I found truly frightening, was that many of the mothers seemed to have dressed out of the same closet as their tween. Seriously, a yoga skirt with a heather gray and neon pink chevron stripe, a green tube top and a white semi-sheer top over said tubetop is grounds for a ticket to What Not To Wear and a $5000 gift card to shop by Stacey and Clinton's rules.

I felt positively drab in what I thought was fashionable mom garb: skinny jeans and a grey-blue knit t-shirt with a cowelneck. Maybe I need that trip to NYC for What Not To Wear?

While Mel tried on her selections I wandered around the store...

Press-on nails? For 9-12 year olds?
Really? How do these kids go outside to play???

And swore that I will shield Brenna from these wonders for as long as humanly possible...

10,000 reasons not to have your child's ears pierced until she is old enough to sign the waiver herself
Finally Mel emerged from the dressing room resplendent in her birthday outfit (not to be confused with her birthday suit which would have been wholly inappropriate and cause for a very different blog post).

the proud, beautiful and very bright birthday girl

Happy birthday Melany!! May your tween years be filled with rainbows, and sparkles, neon!!

And I can rest easy knowing that 20 years from now she will look back at this picture and wonder, "What the h3ll was I thinking?!" Not that I've had that experience or anything....

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