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Back-to-school shopping drama

August 25, 2012
By SUMMER WALLACE-MINGER , Weirton Daily Times

"That is hideous. I am not buying that."

"They're practical," Sainted Child said. She takes after her father in that way. A more practical, laid-back person has never lived. He's so relaxed that I sometimes have to take his pulse to assure myself he's still with us.

"They might be practical, but they're unattractively so, and, since I have the charge card, I have veto power."

We were back-to-school shopping. It used to be easy, because I picked out everything. As she edges toward 13, she wants input. That input led to an impasse, because we have dramatically different tastes - she likes dressing like Punky Brewster meets Victorian England. It's a weird mishmash exacerbated by the fact that she also looks like a rainbow vomited on her. Didn't we leave day-glo orange back in the 1980s? I thought we did, but apparently, it has received a stay of execution. Meanwhile, I have approximately 10 pairs of black slacks.

"These are cute." I held up a pair of canvas Nikes in purple. I thought it was a compromise. I liked the design, and the color was appropriately eye-searing.

"Eh, I don't like the way they look." She held up a pair of tennis shoes that roughly approached the size and shape of a pillow with chartreuse stripes.

"Put that back before it bites you."

"I think they look comfortable," injected Grandmama. She's always on Sainted Child's side.

"I think they look like a train wreck. What about these?" I held up another pair, streamlined, with light pink swooshes.

Sainted Child wrinkled her nose. "Those are too girly."

I proceeded to bang my head against the nearest wall. We not only had to buy a pair of shoes, but clothing and a school bag. We hadn't even checked one thing off our list. I would never escape back to reality.

We finally found the one pair of shoes out of the hundreds and hundreds available in the store that we could both be happy with. Well, not happy. But not horrified, either. I can work with not horrified.

Then, it was off to the clothes.

My son is easy. He wants blue jeans. They can't be too tight or too baggy, but he's OK with whatever wash. He picks out a variety of T-shirts with geek-chic logos on them, and we're good. It takes him 20 minutes to pick out an entire wardrobe for the school year. It takes another 10 to try on a pair of jeans - once we find the right size in the style he likes, I buy half a dozen in various shades of blue - and make sure all the T-shirts fit. That's it - half an hour, but it took my daughter longer than that just to pick out a pair of shoes.

Things started getting thrown into the cart - crocheted sweaters, color-block prints, lace everywhere - and I started looking around for Stevie Nicks. I was told the new thing is layering. And wearing your grandmother's dollies, apparently.

I'll be honest: I capitulated. As long as her body was covered, I gave it the thumbs up, even if it looked like it had been doused in glitter. Or had polka dots. Or had polka dots that were doused in glitter.

I hate glitter. It comes off in the wash and gets on my black slacks.

(Wallace-Minger, The Weirton Daily Times community editor, is a Weirton resident and can be contacted at

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