I like my daughters.
I think they are great people. I am proud of them. It makes me happy that they have empathy, that they are kind to others – friends or not. I like that they appear to like themselves. I like that they are not materially spoiled, and that they do not expect lots of “stuff” from me.
So when an occasion warrants an indulgence, I will indulge. I’m not really sure that this was one of those times, but I indulged anyway.
S~ is getting ready to “graduate” from 8th grade. Writer Dude is always rolling his eyes at this – it’s not a “real” graduation, the only “real” graduation is graduation from High School. Fine - that’s fine. But since the girls attend a K-8 school, this “graduation” is a big stinkin’ deal.
There is graduation, on an afternoon in the middle of a week, and the night before, there is a Dinner/Dance for the kids. The dinner dance is semi-formal, and requires proper attire. The graduation is graduation, and I think a new dress would be fun. But S~ came to me and said she was willing to wear a borrowed/old dress for the dance, but could she please go shopping with friends for a graduation dress?
And me, feeling all indulgent and excited about these big days, I said – “oh, you can have TWO new dresses!”
[Also, in light of the fact that she was feeling torn between two "groups" of friends, not really wanting to tell one group "no" about shopping for dresses, but having already told the other group "yes." So I told her she could buy two new dresses, and then be able to go shopping with both sets of friends.]
I told her she could spend $100 per dress. Seemed reasonable, especially in light of the fact that last year, she was able to get several bar/bat mitzvah dresses in the $60-$80 price range (since she’s grown 4 inches since last year, re-wearing wasn’t really an option).
Off she goes! On her first shopping expedition, with 4 friends (3 other girls and a very fashion-savvy boy). With $100 in her pocket.
While the younger girls were off on their scavenger hunt, S~ called from the mall: She found a semi-formal dress for the dinner/dance, but it cost a little more than what she had with her. Her friend’s mom who had driven them to the mall said she could loan the funds, and S~ could pay her back later. Well, asks her curious mom (that’s me), how much is the dress?
I said no. I said she could not borrow that much money from someone, and I was not willing to buy that dress without (a) a list very compelling reasons why it was worth it, and (b) seeing it with my own eyes, to understand that it looked appropriate and was worth it.
She was so unhappy with me. She was working on bargaining: ”I promise, if I can have this dress, I’ll just wear an old one to graduation, I won’t get two dresses!” She texted a photo of it to me (i didn’t see the diamonds that MUST be sewn into it, to explain the price). She cajoled. She whined.
And still, I said no. Impervious, I tell you. I am impervious to whining.
[At least, as you will see, in the moment.]
I told her we could go back together and look at it.
She took a deep breath (the same ones I’ve been working on with her since she was one year old), and put the dress on a 24 hour hold.
But then nearly 24 hours went by, and I realized that I forgot that: younger girls would be at my house until 11, friends were coming over to play mah jongg at 12, and S~ had a softball game at 4. So …. ??? But when I explained all this to her (especially that I wouldn’t let her miss the softball game, which – frankly – we both had forgotten about the day before), she was so unhappy. She was so afraid that the dress would be gone. That someone else would buy it, and she wouldn’t be able to find it anywhere else.
Why such a big deal?
See, this dress is a strapless dress. Her friends started wearing the strapless dress last year, in bar/bat mitzvah season.* Poor, poor, S~ comes from a family of late developers. Late as in … period at 16? No boobs before 15. She’s 13. That means, well, no boobs. Dress shopping last year – regardless of the presence of straps – was very difficult. The styles that she wanted didn’t match her body type. We had to try a few times to nonchalantly stroll through children’s departments, looking for something with less bows than what lines the aisles in such places. It was hard. There were tears.
But this year, we’ve had some forward movement. And this dress was the first strapless dress that she tried on and that FIT HER. And that STAYED UP. ”I even jumped up and down with my arms up over my head!” she told me.
It was important to her. Not just because it was a fancy, expensive dress, but because it let her feel like she was finally caught up and in line with her friends.
So guess what I did?
I told my mah jongg friends to go home (they knew what was going on, and were okay with it), and I packed S~ into the car, and raced to the mall. I was doubtful that we’d be able to get there and back [because we'd have to find parking ... how I hate the mall ... how I hate finding parking at the mall] in time for the softball game.
But we did! We had a parking spot within seconds (seriously) of driving into the lot. I knew it was a sign!
First we went to the store, and she showed me the [quite modest] strapless dress. It is strapless, but the neckline is not low, and it even has some pleating stuff going on at the neckline that makes it a higher than usual cut. And it comes to just above her knees. And she looked lovely. Old. Lovely. Tall. Thin. Happy.
Then we went to Macy’s to look at shoes. And then we dashed up to the Junior’s Department, to look at graduation dresses. And she found one! It’s very cute and casual (and most importantly, $40). Then I grabbed her a few pairs of shorts (because she outgrew all of hers from last year). Then we jumped in the car, flew home, shoved some food into her gut, and sent her out the door to softball.
She was 10 minutes late, but glowing.
And I don’t regret spending $188.