Don’t make me shop with these people


Do you want to know what I enjoy more than clothes shopping for myself?

… That is to say, more than hauling my carcass to some monolithic mecca of commercialism smack in the center of an asphalt plane crowded with cars? More than wandering through crowds of gabby, smelly shoppers and their sticky progeny meandering four abreast at a rate one might compare to plate tectonics? More than perusing aisles crammed with textiles which, regardless of how they look on a mannequin, will transform me into something lumpy and wan in the warped dressing room mirror under fluorescent lighting not fit for a morgue?

Want to know what I enjoy than that?

I enjoy taking my younger son shopping for clothing. That, my friends is a real treat.

Let me give you a sense of how this goes down:

  • We argue about his need to tear himself away from his book or his computer, and then we argue about whether he has to shower first, brush his teeth or his hair or get a coat on, until I incent him with a trip to the convenience store for a Dr. Pepper on the way home.
  • In the car I answer seven bajillion questions about how long this will take and when he can expect to be back. Because a man’s got things to do, apparently. If I’m lucky, he’ll forget about our errand midway to the mall and tell me something fun or interesting and we’ll have a spontaneous and enjoyable mother-son moment.
  • Then the reality or our situation will come crashing back as we peruse the parking lot and finally take the very last spot in the very furthest lot from our destination because I am NOT going to be one of THOSE PEOPLE who drives around looking for the nearest, best and most auspicious space in the lot while others let their toddlers bolt back and forth across lanes of traffic and criss-cross in front of me in a serpentine pattern, seemingly daring me to run their oblivious asses over.
  • On the two-mile hike to the store we will return to the subject of how long it’s going to be before someone gets his precious Dr. Pepper and gets home again.
  • In the store, after looking for what seems a lot like an eternity we will have picked out two or three reasonably priced, fashionable pieces that are simultaneously appropriate for the weather and also meet all of my kids known standards for clothing, which include:
    • No logos, cartoon characters or graphics of any kind (this includes stripes or other crazy patterns).
    • No collars, buttons or scratchy tags.
    • Big, mesh pants pockets that are neither too deep nor too shallow.
    • Side, cargo pants pockets that don’t stick out too much.
    • Fabric that doesn’t feel too slimy, doesn’t make too much of a swishy sound, doesn’t bunch up or slide down or otherwise make itself known in any way while it’s being worn.
    • No bright colors. No neon. Grey, beige, and navy are okay. Red and green are iffy. The suggestion of something yellow will get me a look of scorn and pity one would normally reserve for a publicly drunken hobo clown.
    • Sleeves and pants must reach all the way to the end of the wrist and ankle, respectively, and in fact, should bunch up a little in just the proper way. But not too much.
    • Fabric cannot be too heavy. Corduroy and denim are verboten. Jeans have been out of the question since kindergarten. Fleece is preferable in jackets. A light fleece. Not a heavy fleece.
    • Long sleeved shirts are only okay for occasions when it is seven thousand degrees below zero. And for orchestra concerts.
  • At home, after disposing of tags and washing the new items of clothing, we will realize that two out of three of them are somehow unwearable due to criteria that have been developed just since the shopping expedition.
  • I will at this point either shut myself in my bedroom and scream into a pillow, or throw a box of plastic lawn bags at him, telling him that’s exactly what he can wear from now on as far as I care.

I was out with a friend recently who relayed her own, sad shopping-with-kids story. Her daughter apparently imbues clothing with qualities reminiscent of an acid trip. Items are either “too swishy” or “sound wrong,” or can have any number of other qualities one wouldn’t normally ascribe to clothing.

It is no small comfort to know someone else understands the desire to abandon her precious offspring in a shopping mall, to let protestations about too-straight pant legs, or too-wide necklines fade as she ducks into Williams Sonoma, pretending she had been shopping for a sauce pan all along.

We’re talking about starting a support group. We might call it something like Parents of the Inexplicably Picky In the Clothing Department, but probably need something catchier. We’ll meet just down the hall from the Parents of the Persnicketally Palated, just for the convenience of those who need multiple areas of support. There’ll be copious adult beverages. Bring your own scream pillow.

Who else is in?


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photo by: Gratisography


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  1. Count me in! I took my youngest clothes shopping last weekend, the boy had zero pants/jeans. It actually wasn\’t a horrible experience. I\’m pretty sure this is due to the fact that my youngest is still a few years shy of teenagerhood. Now my oldest, I need to take him shopping, and soon. Now THAT I\’m sure will be a real treat, yes!

    1. You\’re in! Although I have to say, my youngest developed these issues when he was younger, so maybe you\’ve skipped it in your youngest all together. You can still come to the group though, if you bring snacks.

  2. Will be more than happy to trade. I will take your son shopping. Introduce him to the fact that real men know their way around the mall.

    You may take Princess One and Princess Two to the mall. For Princess One, black is ok, gray enough to be black is passable. Jeans are a maybe. Shirts need to be from Hot Topic, or perhaps the expensive side of Target. Please bring a kevlar jacket if you want to suggest pink, bows, ruffles, or anything girly. Although Hot Topic dresses with combat boots are ok. My only salvation is that the Hot Topic Wonder Woman bra/pantie set is still yucky.

    For Princess Two the issue is she is built like her family. Designers think that any girl with a waist that size should in fact have 55 inch long legs. Good luck finding pants that have the right blue, leg cut, and length and are under $100.

    Try to avoid slutware. You have seen the shirts, but not on my children.

    1. Stay strong, Alan. I would not trade with you for all the jelly beans in the world. First of all, neither of my sons is very brand-conscious, so that\’s a blessing. No crazy price tags for us. Second, I only have one such beast to deal with. The older kid could wear a burlap sack to school when he was younger. Now he\’s more picky, but also able to do his own shopping. It\’s awesome.

  3. Oh my goodness. Please let me in your group. I desperately need to take my son pants shopping (because, of course, all the pants which were perfectly good last spring are now WAY too short), yet am avoiding it like the plague. He also won\’t wear jeans, for some insane reason, and long pant shopping comes somewhere after being bitten to death by red ants and sticking my hand in a pot of acid in the list of things I want to do with my weekend.

  4. I think this is a general problem with kids during their growing years. They tend to become quite choosy and fussy. This biggest issue is that without our help, they won\’t be able to get anything either.