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.
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?