Oh, my beautiful girls.
This week, I bought Sadie a pair of new jeans.
I rarely buy new clothes for the girls. My 13-year-old sister (who never spills anything on anything) passes all of her clothes down to Sadie (who spills everything on everything), and then Rosie gets the dregs. Rosie is okay with it, as long as she has socks she likes. I buy her new socks.
My sister is narrow and willow-y like her father, and so as time goes by, I filter out the jeans and send them to goodwill for children of that tall and willow-y body type. And so, last week, when Sadie pointed out another pair of stretchy cotton pants that were all of the sudden 4 inches too short, I agreed to go in search of some new pants.
I picked up the girls at school and we headed to the outlets. Small planned city with manicured bushes. Really big strollers. Christmas music piping over the sidewalks. Cinnabon.
We were cheery. And with one girl’s hand in each of my own, we crossed the street to start our adventure at the Gap. The girls laughed at the early Christmas music, and I thought to myself, this will be easy. In and out. Comfortable and inexpensive pants in hand.
Store 1: Into the dressing room with a pile of every fit and several sizes. And also lots and lots of these things called jeggings. Jean leggings. Jeggings. Rosie explained it to me. And then, one at a time, Sadie tries on each pair. She falls over trying to get the things off. She pulls them up. She struggles with the buttons. She runs around the dressing room and does the mandatory “squat in your jeans” test.
She shakes her head and hands them all back to me, one at a time.
“Mom,” she says. “I can’t do the skinny jeans. I don’t get them, and I can’t get them on.”
It’s either skinny or slim fit. And neither fits. I size up, and then they’re huge. She starts to look discouraged.
Jeans are hard! I say. Maybe you’re just not a Gap jeans kind of girl. Most people have to try on a million pairs before dining the right one.
Store 2: Again with the skinny jeans! Only these have silly zippers on them, too. They’re out of almost every size, and so we try on more jeggings. Sadie shakes her head again. The staples-on paper label on the back pops off, and she bursts into hysterics.
“My butt is too big for these pants! I popped the label off!” Rosie falls on the static-y carpeted floor laughing. Coldplay is playing Christmas music in the dressing room.
Store 3: There are lots of styles and sizes and I am hopeful. There is, however, no dressing room. I ask the woman at the counter where we can try things on, and she says, “try on? why?” We try to go into the back store room, but there are a bunch of guys in baggy pants in there. I grab the nearest skirt, a tulle tutu, and hand it to Sadie. She puts on the tutu, takes off her pants, tries on the jeans. Rosie is again on the floor laughing. Sadie shakes her head.
Store 4: It is dark, and we are hungry. Sadie is asking why there is Christmas music, and why all the jeans are skinny. I am telling her that some people don’t even like wearing jeans at all! That we will find the right ones some day. That all these stores are lame and we don’t want their jeans anyway.
I don’t want her to hate shopping. I don’t want her to hate jeans shopping, or swimsuit shopping, or situations when she has to be under bad lighting in front of a full-length mirror. I just need a pair of decent pants for my beautiful beautiful girl.
In the darkness, the inside of the another store calls to us. “GIRLS DENIM!” I repeat the words, and pull the girls into the store. There is a wall of jeans. None of them are skinny. They are “bootcut” and “straight” and there are jeans in every size. My arms are filled with little jeans, and we head to the large and empty dressing room.
The first pair fits. Perfectly. She slips on her sneakers and runs the full parameter of the store.
“These are my jeans.”