My daughter asked if we could go to the mall this year for back to school shopping instead of hitting our usual spots — which include outlets and my favorite discount stores like T.J.Maxx and Marshalls. After I explained we probably wouldn’t be doing that since she has two siblings that need to be clothed, backpacked, and armed with school supplies as well, she was not happy with me.
But here’s the way I see it: Kids need food, shelter, water, and, yes, they do need clothes, but I’ll be damned if I am going to swaddle them in jeans that cost more than the electric bill only to watch them grow out of them in exactly 3 months.
If they want sneakers that cost as much as the tires on the car, they can find a way to earn the money and buy them their damn selves. After all, they are teenagers now and instead of spending their babysitting money on candy and gadgets for their cellphone and video games, they can save to buy those expensive pants that must have golden threads judging by the price tag.
Sorry, kids, I don’t think you should have a more expensive wardrobe than me. I am the mother, after all.
I’d like to sit here and tell them what my dad always told me when I begged him for GUESS jeans: “School isn’t a fashion show, Katie.” But I won’t because it’s annoying. Also, I believed it was a fashion show then, and let’s face it — it still kind of is.
Whether it’s more for the kids or the parents is still in question, but it is important to our kids to look lit and I get it. But my bargain shopping skills are on point and they don’t even appreciate me for it, dammit.
It doesn’t change the fact I don’t feel guilty about sending them to school in off-brand clothes. Or discounted, last-year’s leftovers we got on the clearance rack.
Are they comfortable, warm, and do they still look adorable? Yes, they do. If they are wearing a button-down that didn’t come from Vineyard Vines and don’t own an outfit that cost more than a months’ worth of groceries, they are going to be just fine. Plus, it gives them something to look forward to in life.
Kids grow, they spill shit, they wear out the knees in their jeans no matter how much they cost, and as soon as they see one of their friends take a marker to their pant leg, they are going to join in too. If they want to destroy a decent pair of jeans, they can be a discount brand that I bought on sale.
They play outside, they barf, they bleed, they use their shirts as napkins and tissues and holders for rocks and sticks. They are fucking messy. So if they want designer, name-brand threads just so they can “keep up with their friends,” they are gonna have to work to make the money for these luxuries.
I couldn’t care less about making sure they are wearing all the right things or comparing their wardrobe to their friend’s. In fact, I’m exhausted just thinking about it.
But honestly, the biggest reason I’m not splurging on a back-to-school wardrobe is because they are kids and they don’t fucking need such lavish clothing at a young age. I have better things to spend my hard-earned money on. Like braces, toilet paper, and candles to keep me somewhat calm when they start whining about how they need $200 for a pair of ripped-up jeans.
So yeah, I’ll be dragging my deprived children to all the discount stores, feeling high off all the bargains. They can cringe all they want. But I am doing them a service by making them appreciate the finer things in life by keeping them at bay for a while longer.