So my 13 year old Molly and I had some quality one-on-one time this weekend, since my wife was away in the UK visiting a friend whose son was celebrating his bar mitzvah.
Molly and I were waiting for her younger sister, Annie, who was at dance class. The weather outside was about as miserable as Molly’s mood (typical 13 year old, huh?). So I decided the best way to get her out of her “funk” was to treat her to whatever she wanted at Starbucks.
After sitting there quietly for about 10 minutes, sipping her peppermint hot chocolate and blueberry buttermilk muffin, the haze began to lift and she started talking and engaging. She came back…I had her for a little while until she went “down under” again.
We were just chatting about stuff as we were people-watching out the window. Molly then said, “Dad, they all wear uniforms!”
She then went on to say that so many girls her age all seem to wear the same thing at this time of year: a Canada Goose coat, UGGs and leggings and they all have their hair flat-ironed (Molly has corkscrew curls).
I get it…“a uniform”! I was trying to figure out if she was envious of them because of the $750 worth of jacket and boots they were wearing, (which, incidentally, they will probably outgrow in a year because they are only 13!!!), or could she be more practical than that and see that the uniform represented a lack of identity and individuality.
My wife and I have always lived on the side of practicality when it comes to purchasing clothing and footwear for our kids. Not only is it because we financially don’t have the means to plunk down $250 for a pair of boots they will outgrow as their bionic feet continue to explode in size, but because I feel that to some parents, their kids are an extension of their own social status….dare I say, an accessory?
Many years ago, as a young teenager, I remember you were uncool unless you were wearing Polo, Izod, Jordache, Pony, Grebs and Adidas. These were my status symbols growing up. But, my parents didn’t indulge me everytime I said, “Jimmy got a new pair of Adidas…all I have are these crummy North Stars. I want a pair too!” Don’t get me wrong…I can honestly say that I never wanted for anything. But, being practical was clearly instilled in me by my parents and I know the same holds true for my wife with her parents.
So, back to Molly. I asked her how it made her feel seeing all these young girls wearing “the uniform” and if she was bummed about not wearing stuff similar to these girls. She said, “don’t mountain climbers wear Canada Goose jackets? Why do those girls need to wear that kind of jacket?” Aside from reminding me that she never zips up her ski jacket on the coldest of days (a huge pet peeve of mine), she would be quite happy with a Land’s End jacket that she saw on-line for $75 and how she wanted to borrow a top of my wife’s that she saw when we were folding laundry earlier that day at home (incidentally, the top is from Joe Fresh).
Phew! Maybe this is just a momentary “blip” or maybe she is beginning to recognize the frivolity in obtaining all of these unnecessary and extravagant items. Don’t get me wrong, she wants a Blackberry, she wants a new Ipod (she lost her other one) and she wants a new laptop…but to me, these are tools of the trade.
What Molly’s comment also says to me is, that maybe, just maybe, we are slowly rubbing off on our daughter. Maybe she is beginning to realize that her desire for material things will only bring her short term happiness and will not do anything for her self confidence. She is who she is and should be proud…to love herself for all that she is.
She finished slurping her Peppermint Hot Chocolate and said, “that was good…let’s go get a Booster Juice”.
My wonderful, growing daughter.