First things first. The moral of this story is never to be texting an extremely sensitive conversation, with someone's heart on the line, while fighting off 2,000 Japanese tourists in search of the very last green GAP hoodie, size xxl, in the world, for your son. Got it?
(I realize it is way un-PC to specify that they were Japanese tourists, but they were in fact Japanese tourists, so deal with it.)
So we went to bed one recent summer night and awakened to freezing black winter. (Um, hello? Has anyone seen fall?) As such, it's time to outfit the kids for the various forms that winter takes in our inclement state. Sometimes a long-sleeved t-shirt will suffice, other days a hoodie is your best bet, and then there are the sideways rain days where you pull out the puffy parkas and scarves and wooly hats that frizz your hair to oblivion. Anyway, my kids grow an average of six inches a week, so of course they needed all new stuff. Off to Old Navy to stock up on the essentials. Quinn is a dream. Some pants (size 16! He's 10!), some sweats, some hoodies, and big man undies, and he's set. (Papa got him shoes later.)
But Christ Almighty, then there's Reilly. I love my daughter. More than words can convey, but this girl would have Mother Teresa screaming for corporal punishment if she were ever to shop with my precious daughter. Here's the problem: She doesn't want some fucked-up Miley Cyrus bullshit, she's not into goth, nor makeup, nor any look in particular, she simply doesn't like anything. Ever. She has a closet full of clothes and wears the same black pants and black shirt everyday. She even confessed, to my OCD horror, that she recently pulled her outfit from the hamper and rolled it with my lint roller so as to give the appearance of cleanliness. OMG. Needless to say my experience with her was in stark contrast to my easy-breezy twenty minute spree with Quinn.
Rather than threatening to make her wear yellow Wal*Mart sweat suits all winter, I hatched the ingenious plan to have a girls' day and head to the GAP in Woodburn. In retrospect I believe the only reason she agreed to go was for the frappucino she got en route. But I digress... We got a killer parking spot (I am known for this), and approached the door, beating off the swarms of people pouring out the door. We pushed our way back to the kids' section and began perusing the inventory. I had made it clear to Rei that we were looking for coats, hoodies, pants, WINTER GARMENTS. Naturally she made a bee-line for some ridiculous, 80's polka-dotted, repulsive hat that made me vomit, discreetly. I redirected her to the jackets, where she was ambivalent, but eventually decided on a really cute one because I manipulated her and told someone she admires has a coat like that. She will never wear it. (Hasn't worn it yet, tags still on.)
Now might be a good time to mention that Rei has certain wardrobe rules, even though I know I shouldn't let her. She will not wear most coats, jeans, sweaters, jeans, any shoe that is not a flip-flop, nor jeans. She is so skinny that when we cinch them up there's like a softball-sized knot in her back. She wants to wear shorts and flip-flops with some ugly threadbare pullover handed down by the aforementioned person whose fashion sense she admires. I recently threw it away in hopes of ushering in a new era. So I patiently watched as she browsed ear muffs, pajamas, belts, heinous patent leather things, waiting for her to spy some pants or anything else on the list. The hoodies were buy-one-get-one, so after slaughtering at least twenty people to get some for Quinn, I coaxed Rei into picking out some too. I forced her into one pair of jeans, that fit perfectly, and when I asked if she would wear them, she said, "I don't really do denim." For $28.00 I was not pushing it.
That concluded our GAP bonanza, and we snagged a sweet spot at 75th in line at the registers. We (I) opted to give Old Navy another go, and I re-learned the futility of trying to make her see the allure of jeans. Rei does have a bit of an edge, and is drawn to skulls and pirate stripes and all the things you dream of for your daughter. We found a hoodie, a shirt, and praise be to Jesus, ten more colors of the black yoga pants she wears everyday. I mean, every color was absolutely abhorrent, because they're yoga pants and should only be black, but she's so skinny you do what you gotta do, even if it means allowing her to get pink ones (puke), sky blue ones (wretch), grey ones (eh), and wisely, more black ones. All in all, I was pleased, but we still had to tackle the most volatile clothing issue: shoes. We had already scoured heaven and earth for the perfect skater shoes, to no avail. She really wanted to go to the skate shop in the mall, and in my sweaty, throw-in-the-towel-and-let-her-wear-flip-flops-all-winter desperation, I dragged my carcass to the ridiculous shop, with her skipping 50 feet in front of me. She immediately spied what she wanted, and I heaved a sigh of relief that they were actually pretty cute. And only cost about three months' wages. So I called Todd, who was so glad I had undertaken this mammoth, maddening task, and not him, that he readily agreed to getting the shoes.
With our bags full of every black garment we could cull from the racks, as well as the black shoes, we set out for the car. To my absolute dread, Reilly reminded me that last time we were in the mall I promised to go into one of those hepatitis/who-knows-what-else, riddled photo booths (which are spelled "foto" booths for chrissake!). I had grown rather irritable as our seemingly failed shopping trip wore on, so I thought it might help end the night on a sweet note if I indulged my girl and crammed my ass into this diseased claustrophobia nightmare for her. Please try not to conjure up images of a hippo in a VW Beetle okay? But it was bad. The first problem was everything. These booths are made for three of Reilly, not one of her mama. We scrunched onto the bench and the screen showed that while Rei looked bright-eyed and smiley, I was only sagging shirt and cleavage. For those who don't know, I'm 6'1", so I didn't line up right for the camera. Thus began what ought to have been my olympic gold medalist contortionist routine, wherein I slumped off the three-inch-wide bench, onto the dirt/spit/god knows-covered floorboard so the camera could see my face, a feat about which I was none too thrilled. Okay but that wasn't enough of a sacrifice, for the camera still only showed my shoulders. So I literally sat on the floor, and unfurled my mile-long legs completely out of the booth, to be seen by every passing gawker, and positioned myself so that we could get our $3.00 worth with these damned pictures! Might I qualify by saying, well, no need, you'll see the pics. For what they are, they turned out alright, except one, wherein I inexplicably french kissed my daughter. No really. She tilted her head to make room for her ginormous mother, and somehow my instinctive response was to make out with her. Please don't call protective services, this really isn't a normal practice in our family. I was simply trying to salvage what I could of our merriment-turned-to-angst.
Despite my frustrations, I'm proud to report mission accomplished, all the way down to the shoes. As for Reilly's enthusiasm for her hard-won bags of loot, well, she has worn the same black pants and black shirt everyday since. Sigh.