September 20 14

Raising tween-to-teenage girls is such a tricky, tricky business, isn’t it?

At 13, Emily so desperately wants to grow up. She wants to wear mascara (clear only, love), she wants to wear heels (I’ll allow the wedges for now), she wants to “dress more like Blair Waldorf this year — I need to get a good blazer.” (She now has a blazer). And I get it, I so do. I mean, it’s not such a stretch for me to remember being 13, just a few short years ago.

Fine, 23 years ago. Good lord, that’s an entire college graduate amount of time since I have been 13.

But I remember so badly wanting to shed those last traces of babyhood, I remember how exciting it was to shop at The Gap, a store whose clothing shelves didn’t share space with onesies and bibs.

Maybe it’s because I’m an old lady now, but I feel like clothing for teens is a lot…tinier…than it was in the 1990s. Teen clothes for me meant giant flannel button-downs and Doc Martens and big alternative band t-shirts from concerts I didn’t go to or loose and billowy baby-doll dresses (and chokers) or (zoinks) overalls. What I’m saying is, style choice notwithstanding, there really was no shortage of fabric on our grown-up clothing wish lists. Thanks, Angela Chase and the entire cast of Beverly Hills, 90210.

When I see teens right now, there’s this little game I like to play called, “Is that bum cheek I see?” because I don’t know if you have noticed, but shorts are really, really short. The waists are high, sure, but there are no legs in the legs. They are like, shorter than Nair commercial short. It always reminds me of that scene in Now and Then when the girls are drinking their brown cows and when they see Sam’s mom prancing around all Nancy Sinatra-like, they are all, “HOW SHORT ARE THOSE SHORTS?! HOW TALL ARE THOSE BOOTS? ”

My shorts test for Emily is always how she would feel sitting on the subway in them. Or on a ride at Wonderland. If you worry about contracting a venereal disease merely from sitting, I’m thinking that your shorts are probably too short. If I can tell if you’re in need of a bikini wax, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that your shorts are too short.

how short are those shorts

Too short to ride this ride.

Luckily I’m the Mama Bear, and I get to make the purchases and still have some control over what shopping bags get carried over the threshold into our house, and I get to exercise my right to say both NO! and Are you out of your mind I don’t think you should be wearing shorts that are smaller than your underpants thank you very much. 

But I still find it such a tricky business, letting them grow up. It’s hard trying to find the balance between allowing them the freedoms they so desire (and truly need, if we are being honest) and calling all the modesty shots. It’s hard knowing when I should walk up behind her and tug a little at the back of her skirt, or when I should just be thankful that her skirt is closer to her knees than her nethers.

I might be a mean mom, but at least I can rest peacefully knowing she can ride the subway disease-free. I can’t make any promises about Albert Einstein flossing his teeth, however.

Why oh why can’t they just have school (life?) uniforms?


  1. I work at a university and my go-to saying this summer was “I have underwear bigger than her shorts”. Truth.

    Comment by Carmen on September 20, 2014
  2. You know what bothers me most about those tiny little shorts? When the girls who wear them stand up and proceed to yank them out of their crotch for all to see. Classy!

    I have a 10-year-old and my current battle is shaving legs. She has blonde hair so it’s harder to see but it is very Sasquatch-like. Since you have an older daughter, would you mind my asking when you let her begin this rite of passage? I had to wait until after 6th grade but I hear that times are different.

    Comment by Alison on September 21, 2014
  3. My mom got off so easy with me being a tomboy. I never really worse dresses until like 8 years ago. Ha!

    Comment by Kristabella on September 22, 2014
  4. I so appreciate my son’s school uniform, no issues about dress for the day.
    Too bad most schools don’t implement a ‘dress code’ – I don’t mean appropriate clothing code but more of an accepted type of clothing/color etc.- so much easier for parents and actually sooo much easier for kids – they have enough to deal with, without all the peer pressure.
    As for the shaving I always told our daughter (now 20) that she should wait as long as possible as it grows in thicker – what we didn’t forsee is her shaving her brows because kids were teasing her – yikes, she only shared that recently. She proably has the most beautiful brows I’ve ever see, I guess the other kids were jealous….

    Comment by sarah on September 22, 2014

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