Sunday, July 26, 2009

I'm Getting Worried. And Hiding the Credit Cards.

As Bear creeps ever closer to teenagerhood (teendom? teenageing?), I notice indisputable clues that her interests are shifting. The child who, four years ago, would have unquestioningly worn a Hefty bag had I laid it out on her bed for school, now gets up a half hour early in order to have time to try on a variety of outfits. Accessories are carefully matched, and checked in a variety of lights for effectiveness. Hair is "done", as opposed to her old method of brushing the front only. "Out of sight, out of mind" suited her fine as a hairstyle motto, and I spent most of her elementary school years positioned by the front door with a hairbrush before she headed out the front door with shiny, tidy bangs and a tangled rat's nest in the back.

Now she's asking for her own blow drier and flatiron, and openly coveting the bottles of product on my dresser. (I tend to be a bit of a compulsive shopper at the salon. How, I ask you, does one resist the pretty little bottles that promise to end all of your hair issues in one fell swoop? Well, if you're does not).
My first clue that times, they were a-changin' came last year, when Bear actually seemed to enjoy school clothes shopping, instead of moaning delicately each time I told her to try on an armful of clothes. She actually had opinions about what she wanted, and put together some outfit combinations on her own. This was HUGE for a child whose previous three years were spent wearing: a t-shirt, hoodie, and jeans every single day, varying only the colors of t-shirt and hoodie each day. I began to anticipate leisurely mother-daughter shopping trips and conversations about clothing trends in our future.

Until...well, several things happened that raised red flags.

FLAG #1: she spent $12 of her saved allowance to buy a variety of preteen magazines. I watched her read them carefully, then turn back to the beginning and flip slowly through the pages, dog-earing several as she went.

"Whatcha doin'?" I asked curiously.

"Marking the new fall fashions that I like," she answered seriously.

Oh. Okaaay.
FLAG #2: ever since the arrival of a check from her grandparents to help out with the cost of school clothes, the kid has been hounding me to set a date when we can drive down to The Maine Mall. Unsatisfied with my answer of "Uh, sometime in August," she has taken to throwing random dates at me, "The first? The second? The third? What about the seventh?"

FLAG #3: Her allowance is being spent on accessories and clothes instead of Bratz and Webkinz.

FLAG #4: (the most alarming flag of all), she suddenly knows brand names. Expensive ones. Crap. I predict conversations wherein I have to explain why buying $150 shoes for someone whose feet are still growing is against my religion.

You know how you're mystified by your parents' parenting decisions when you're a kid? Like, where the hell did this policy change come from? And then you have kids, and you're all ohhhhh, now I get it. When I was fifteen, my parents, seemingly out of the blue, changed my allowance structure to include a "clothing allowance." They continued to buy me things like underwear, socks, pajamas, and shoes for me, but everything else was up to me. Initially, $25 twice a month seemed like RICHES. Until I got to the store and saw that, yeah, those Guess? jeans are $75. Six weeks of allowance. Suddenly Levi's didn't seem quite as revolting as they had when I was shopping with my mom.

There may be a similar arrangement in Bear's future, if she continues down the path of the clotheshorse...


Jen on the Edge said...

I fear this time is fast approaching in our house too. My girls are already marking up the fall catalogs and asking when I'll be placing orders.

We actually have clothing categories for both girls in our household budget, which determines how much we spend. The girls don't know about it yet, but it's going to be a useful tool in a few more years.

smalltownmom said...

I've got 2 boys who only wear black jeans and concert t-shirts, so I can't offer much help here. Although concert Ts can get pretty pricy!

Flag #3 seems like a good thing, though.

Dawn in Austin said...

I've been reading quite a lot lately about the rigors of school clothes shopping and girls. I have to admit, I grin. I have been there. I only had one daughter, but lawdy! did she about drive us to the poorhouse! I feel for you my sister. Did I tell you I have vodka at my house? Any time.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

My daughter is a clotheshorse and a bargain hunter. We don't do one big shop, but always look when we're out. Marshalls and Target are our best friends. Also, Forever 21 and Charlotte Russe for jeans. She cannot fathom why some of her friends spend so much money on clothes.