A few weeks ago, I lost my mind, in this case meaning that I willingly and voluntarily took five girls and one boy to the mall with me for the purpose of ‘Back to School’ clothes shopping. Before you think, ‘no biggie’ I should tell you that the closest, decent mall is two hours away.
Thanks to my chatty, animated passengers the car trip flew by. Once we arrived at our destination, the real party began. As the lone adult of our merry group, I was forced to parse out my time and attention to the varied age and gender demographics, which was admittedly a bit tricky. The two almost 14-year-old ‘big’ girls wanted to venture out on their own for large chunks of time to explore more grown up stores like Gap, American Eagle, Hollister etc. The three ‘littler’ girls wanted to spend their time at Justice, The Children’s Place, and Claire’s, of course. My son, mostly wanted to know how long we had to stay, when could we go to Cracker Barrel and was a lobotomy too much to ask for? Between you and I, I think he enjoyed hanging out with five females more than he’d ever admit, but I could be wrong about that.
Clothes were chosen, critiques, opinions, “oohs” and “ahhs” offered, giggles shared and our primary purpose, that of clothes shopping, was accomplished. However, the secondary purpose, following closely in importance was to spend a requisite thirty minutes perusing accoutrements at Claire’s. It seemed as though every bauble, hat, purse, bottle of nail polish and pair of sunglasses was given a thorough going over in a very fervid, pre-teen manner. My son was bribed with Cracker Barrel biscuits to keep him from complaining whilst waiting outside the boundaries of his least favorite store.
Intermittently, throughout our shopping adventure, my mind would flit to the recurring notion that my children are growing up. They no longer ask to go play on the train (this particular mall has a playground that features a spongy locomotive). They didn’t plead to be taken to the carousel and none of them required a rent-a-stroller. Those are all great developments, in my opinion.
It wasn’t until a few days later, however, that the true weight of the passage of time rested on me. This occurred when I stepped on a sticky, hard, crescent-shaped piece of gold glitter in the form of a press-on nail. I paused, picked the offending object off my foot and reminisced that it used to be Play-Doh that I picked out of the carpet.
All too soon, Claire’s and gaudy accessories will be just another stage gone by. Before I can say Rip Van Winkel, my son will be begging to hang out with girls, my 14- year old will be heading to college not Hollister, and my bauble loving diva of a 10 year old will be wanting to know when she’ll be old enough to wear mascara?
In summary, embrace the stages, parents. It’s our greatest privilege to watch and engage in the shaping of our children. Enjoy the journey, wild and exhausting though it may be.