December 14, 2010

Age Appropriate Clothing: Do I ALREADY Have to Worry About This?

On Saturday, I took Big I (who hates her blog name and wants to be renamed asap!) shopping for a dress for her Christmas concert that was on Monday night. I think I probably speak for every mother of a 9-year-old when I say that this is a tough age, fashion wise. She doesn't want to shop in any of the stores that have "baby clothes" and she just doesn't have enough (or anything really) "upstairs" to warrant a visit to the clothing stores teenagers like. The t-shirts and sweaters and jeans from those stores may be fine for a 9-year-old tall and long beyond her years, but this is one Mom not comfortable with making my child look any older than she has to look.

We first went to the Gap where every girl her age must have already shopped because they had next to nothing in her size. The only thing that fit her was a beautiful blue dress that had a stain on the front of it. I was willing to ask for a discount and take it home and introduce it to OxyClean but Big I felt that the neckline was way too high, to which I probably responded with something like, "suck it up sister." I'm not digging low necklines on 9-year-olds. It's bad enough that there are many girls her age walking around with words like "juicy" and "pink" on their butts. Um no.

We had some lunch and decided to hit the department stores to see what they had that might be holiday appropriate.

I don't know who is responsible for deciding that girls of this age need to have as much glitter, sequins, bling and other sparkly nonsense as possible on their dresses, but all of the ones that we saw were just plain gaudy. When Big I tried on this blue monstrosity that had glitter, puffy sleeves, dip-dyed color bands and a waist tie and fell in love with it, I was the voice of reason that said firmly, "No, absolutely not. You may hate me today, but one day you will thank me for saving you from yourself." My Mom, who was also with us, nodded at me in agreement. It was a horrendous dress. You know it was bad if it was blue and I still hated it.

We contemplated what we were going to do over lunch and then tried some of the more grown up stores. None of those dresses offered anything in the way of butt coverage and unless you're packing a "C" upstairs, no one can hold those dresses up.

We gave up for a bit and I decided I would get some Christmas shopping done for my niece and nephew. We walked into Gymboree and there was the most beautiful dress. It was a deep blue, sleeveless and trimmed with velvet. At the waistband, a beautiful and classy jeweled faux-buckle. The back dipped down into a flattering "V" on the back and the dress flared out at the bottom, several inches past the knee. It was the most beautiful thing we had seen all day.

I held it up to Big I and she literally stamped her foot and said, "If I get a dress from Gymboree, I will be the laughing stock of the whole school." I don't know what I hated more: her attitude and the way she was stamping her foot, or the fact that my 9-year-old daughter already has to worry about where her clothes comes from in order to survive a school day. I quietly told her that if this dress was hanging in any other store in the mall, she would have been all over it. We argued quietly, and then she finally acquiesced when I told her I would cut the tag out and joked that she could lie and say I bought it for her while on a shopping trip in NYC.

We brought it home and she tried it on and complained once again. She was terrified the other girls would know where we bought it. I told her we would "big girl" it up with "panty hose" instead of tights and pretty earrings from the grown-up jewelry area.

Last night, she got in her dress and looked amazing. She wore simple black flats, panty hose for the first time ever, and I even put some curls in her hair. She put her pearl necklace on and wore the sparkly earrings my Mom bought for her. Then, I placed a beautiful jeweled headband on her head, with gentle curls weaving around the band. She looked amazing. . . and like a 9-year old should look.

She arrived at school for her concert and it was easy to pick her out on stage. She was the one with the pretty, yet subtle, sparkles coming from her headband and earrings. She looked classy and age appropriate and I was super proud of how she looked and of how she played her violin.

On the way home from the concert, she told me about the reaction to her dress. One little girl had approached her as she entered the warm-up room and said, "Your dress is too puffy." And then, the strangest thing happened. Her arch nemesis, the girl who always picks on her and bothers her, walked over and said, "I think your dress is beautiful. I wish I had one just like it" as she stared at Big I's dress with a dreamy look on her face. Her favorite boy in her class and a great buddy of hers also smiled at her and told her how pretty she looked. Another girl approached her then too and said, "You look so pretty. Where did you get that dress?"

And without missing a beat, my daughter said, "Thank you. I'm not sure where my Mom got it. I just know she got it somewhere in New York City."

I don't condone my children lying. However, I also acknowledge that she is not quite at the level where she could say, "My Mom got it at Gymboree. Uh-huh, that's right. Jealous?" and own it quite the same way.

And I'm pretty sure there are Gymboree stores all over New York City, so technically, she's not really lying after all.

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