If you are the mother of a baby girl, you will often find yourself the focus of envious stares at shops and parties, with comments like “Oh, how lucky, it’s so much fun shopping for girls.” In all honesty, (as a mom of 2 girls) you do smile secretly on the inside, because those comments are true. I mean, who can resist those pink frocks and red booties, or those fairy clips and pearl bracelets? Alas … it doesn’t last long. The charm of it all starts to fade, and before you know it, it’s replaced by arguments between what you, as a mother, think should be bought and what she, as a growing woman, wants to buy.
Seven hours ago, I found myself thinking, “Wow, today is my lucky day.” My daughter, who just turned fourteen years, got up and announced that we are going shopping. Just to make sure that I had heard correctly, I said, “You mean, with your friends?” And the answer, with an exasperated glance, was “No, you and me.” I almost choked on my tea. Before she could change her mind and replace me with one of her friends, I ran into the washroom to get ready.
And that is how this article came to be. Back now from the shopping trip, exhausted and a few-hundred-dollars-poorer, I sit at my desk writing this piece to moms-of-not-baby-girls-but-teenagers … shopping with your daughters is one of the best and most desired experiences by all mothers. However, to make it a pleasant experience and a smooth process, allow me to divulge some tips.
1. SUGGESTIONS NOT ALWAYS WELCOME
Ok … so just because you are shopping with her, don’t get all excited. Do not even think about suggesting a piece of clothing. If you do, get ready to hear “Mama please, don’t try to dress me up like yourself … this is so old fashioned, I want to have my own style.”
And you stop right there in your tracks, hands in mid-air. Your brain says “Yeah, ok, but this is what the mannequin is wearing, and this is the latest style in Vogue. This is what is being sold at Zara and Mango!
Well, we Moms know it’s true, but at that point, simply swallow it all, smile and move on. Pretend you are looking at some jewellery instead.
2. DON’T GET DISTRACTED
Now that you have been told quite clearly that you are not needed, you decide to check your phone – something you have been resisting all day. As you open WhatsApp and start getting excited to see the 75-plus unread msgs, suddenly you hear urgent calls of “Mama!”. The irritation in the tone at not finding Mama is evident. So you quickly switch it off and run towards the trial room, greeted by “Where were you? I need you to see how I look in this shirt … and in your mind, you think “Yeah, but I thought you don’t like my style and you don’t need me around.” Totally confused, you quickly put the phone away and start telling her how lovely she looks and how the colour definitely matches her skin tone. The smile you receive is a huge reward for you, and you turn to leave, but are told to wait so you can see the next one, too.
You keep your face turned away so she cannot see the smile …
3. COMPLIMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME
Now that you have put your phone away, and are wondering what to do next, she suddenly comes out in a new T-shirt and asks, “How do I look?”. Now … careful there, hold yourself in decorum. Whatever you do or say, your true feelings must not show on your face. If they do, that’s the end of the shopping trip. So, even if that shirt is too tight and you don’t like the cut, just swallow the objections, smile and say, “Wow, that does suit you …” Give it a minute. Let it sink in. Now, with ultimate calm in your voice and a totally indifferent tone, offer “You could try a size bigger to see if it might look better, you might look less skinny.”
I admit, this could go either way … you now have a 50-50 chance. Either you will be a hit, or … …
4. THERE IS NO NO
The word ‘No’ gets left at home when shopping with your teen. Erase it from your brain as if it never existed. When she picks up that black top, similar to the 3 shirts that are already in her cupboard, all that should, and will, come out of your mouth is “Nice top.” Well … you could use the word you should have left at home, but get ready to hear how unsupportive you are of her decisions, you never understand her or her choices, you never buy her anything (wonder who bought all the T-shirts overflowing in her cupboard) and that you are a complete control freak.
The choice really is yours. Fair warning has been issued.
5. SO ALL IS LOST?
At the end of 4 hours, you are exhausted and overladen with shopping bags in both hands, wondering why you even agreed to the plan; why didn’t you just let her go shopping with her friends? Trying to reach the car as quickly as possible, walking ahead of her. Suddenly you feel two arms wrapping around you from behind, pulling you into a tight hug, catching you completely off-guard. It doesn’t stop there. “Thank you, Mama, you are the best Mama in the world … thank you, thank you, thank you!!” I probably don’t have to say anything more, you know you are already on seventh heaven just reading it.
So, no, all is not lost … you didn’t waste your time.
While much of the above is exaggerated, what is not an exaggeration for sure is that shopping with your teen daughter is an adventure both utterly fun and utterly challenging. You enjoy the discussions on what is looking good, and what is a ridiculous piece of fashion. Trying on new make up with her, getting her opinion on what shoes go best with your new top … not only does it allow you to bond, it helps you understand and build confidence in her choices. It helps you realise she is no longer your little ballerina. Instead, she is a young and confident individual with a solid thought process, and rationale behind each choice. A rationale you might not agree with but that, beloved FUCHSIA readers, is a separate topic of discussion to be handled in a separate article … on a separate occasion.
For now … happy shopping with your teen ballerinas.
Rabia stays involved in various social causes. Believing in creating equal opportunities for underprivileged kids, she helps The Citizens’ Foundation, Pakistan, to create awareness of the need for providing quality education to children. At the same time, she is also involved with Singapore-based VWO, 4PM’s Ramadan on Wheels project by supporting it through the FUCHSIA platform. At FUCHSIA, Rabia oversees the Marketing and Public Relations work. She is also part of the Editing Team in conceptualising articles and monthly issues.