The Shoes Made All The Difference

I have a fourteen year old daughter and her 8th grade dance was Friday. It was the celebration of the end of middle school and it also seemed to signify the transition to young adulthood. It was a lot to take in for this mama.

Shopping for the dress, which began months ago, was quite an enlightening process. During our many trips to the mall, I learned these things: 8th grade girls prefer insanely HIGH shoes. They prefer short dresses, lots of makeup, gel nails and "ocean wave" curls set by professional hairdressers. They plan pre-parties, post-parties, photo-ops and sleepovers. In my house, the 8th grade dance was elevated to the same scale as the Oscars and it was hard not to get wrapped up in it all.

But I get it. I was that age once, "in the OLDEN days," as Bella says. I remember being fashion-conscious, wanting to follow the latest trends, that my friends' opinions were paramount in any decision. But what I don't remember is my mom making me prove that I could walk in a pair of covetted shoes. I don't remember strutting around the store, trying not to break an ankle. I don't remember her telling me that it was INSANE to spend $50 on a pair of shoes that would only be worn for the pictures and then quickly exchanged for Converse high tops. And I don't remember her having a panic attack at how quickly I was growing up.

But really, why are hooker shoes the trend? I mean come on! Why do ALL the "in" shoes have to stretch to the heavens on un-Godly platforms? Why do the heels have to be so narrow they make one long for the stability of "old-fashioned" stilettos?

This was the first pair of shoes to come home: (I was not present on this shopping trip.)

Bella couldn't even stand in these for more than 37 seconds. Then she thought she just needed a bigger size cuz they felt TIGHT in her toe region. Ya think!?!?!

"Maybe that's because the extreme and unnatural angle of your foot is physically CRUSHING your toes!" She agreed I might have something there.

So we returned those and after trying on ALL THE DIFFERENT SHOES, we agreed on these:

I approved of this purchase because of the following, completely arbitrary criteria that I decided I could live with:

1) The heel was chunky and stable

2) They weren't sexy

3) She walked all over the store without hanging onto the rounders

4) They looked like Mary Poppins ankle boots = NOT sexy

5) The platform was an inch so it was more like she was wearing a 3-inch heel (fancy math, my husband calls it)

6) Mary Poppins was not a HOOKER!

What it came down to was that I really didn't want my not-so-little girl looking sexy. But deep in my heart, I knew a pair of sexy high heels weren't the real issue. It was just hard to admit that my little girl was growing up.

My little girl, once a kindergartener who cried during her entire "Spring Sing" because too many people were watching her, now had the confidence to don a gorgeous dress, some really high (but NOT sexy) platform heels, and dance the night away at her 8th grade dance. My sweet daughter, once so shy she couldn't easily make friends, rushed from one group to another to hug and give compliments on dresses and shoes. That my baby, once so connected to me that she couldn't leave my side in a crowd of people, happily linked arms with her best friends and boldly stepped into a new stage of life, a stage she was ready to accept. (I'll get there.)

And I must admit, the shoes made all the difference.


Holly and Jenn

Peer Pressure Anyone?

(I should let you know that my son would prefer not to be the subject of this blog post but I know in my heart that we need to know what other families are experiencing and that we're all in this together. In my crazy-busy life, it seems like blogging has replaced bunco. The blogosphere is now where the worries and fears, phases and stages are pondered. This post is brought to you for the greater good.)

Do you remember your very first crush? Mine was at the end of fourth grade and one day, he ran by me and kissed me on the shoulder. From that point on, I couldn't stand him! Not because he changed, he was still the nice, slightly short boy who made me laugh. What changed was our environment. Our entire fourth grade class knew of the drive-by-shoulder-kiss and they couldn't wait for another scandalous PDA to gossip about.

Peer pressure has existed since the beginning of time. I guarantee there was a group of cave-women who decided the jagged-hemmed, animal print, sleeveless dress was the way to catch the best bachelor in town. I'm sure they pressured even the most modest girls to "just try it." Seriously, every child at some/many points, will experience peer pressure. How will you help your kids through it?

So last Tuesday, right after school, my son told me it was "National Hugging Day" and that ALL the boys hugged ALL the girls at school.

"How'd that go over?" I asked, wondering how many kids got warnings for such "potentially harassing" conduct. But he assured me that most of them are just friends and he was happy he hugged the girl he did because she was a good friend. Sweet and innocent and friend-ly. Right?

Two days later I received an update to "National Hugging Day," which happens to be January 21, not May 27; I looked it up.

"Mom. I asked recipient-of-hug out today."

"I thought you were just friends."

"We are. But all my friends told me she liked me and that I should ask her out, so I did."

"Even though you're not allowed to have a girlfriend?" (No judgment but our house rule is no girlfriends/boyfriends until somewhere around high school.)

"Yeah. But it's not a big deal. It's just that all my friends have girlfriends and I kinda wanted to too." (Read it again. Go ahead. Feel free to replace "have girlfriends" with ANYTHING that you're terrified of your kids trying one day. Yep. That's how I felt. Jesus help us!)

"Okay...(trying to breathe)...Well...(what if he ends up addicted to crack?!?!)...Since you know the rule, I want you to think about how you're going to resolve this. You can't have crack...I mean a girlfriend!! So let's figure out a plan, okay?"

And that was just the beginning of the conversation. We've spent the last six days in deep conversation about LOTS of potential lessons, including, but not limited to:

1) How to cope with peer pressure and stand up for what's right and/or follow the rules. Whether it's a benign 5th grade "relationship" or a shot of tequila and a joint (gateway) at a high school party...I am really not concerned with what everyone else is doing.

2) How to treat your girlfriend (when you're mature enough to have one-this age may vary but I'm sure 11 is not in the ballpark): shaking her parents' hands when you pick her up, at the door, for your date; earning funds to provide for your (age-appropriate) entertainment; being a gentleman and adhering to curfews; caring about her feelings and conversing with her about all sorts of stuff...girls LOVE to talk about ALL THE STUFF!

3) How to right a wrong, even when it feels bad. Sometimes I think the more uncomfortable they are, the more likely the lesson will stick. When you ask a girl out and you really shouldn't have, you have to own up to it. When you do, one of two things will happen: she will be sad or she will be relieved. But if she's worth having as a girlfriend, she will understand you made a mistake and are trying to make it right.

Our son has been open and mature during these conversations and he regrets that he allowed himself to be pressured. But these are his two biggest concerns: he doesn't want to hurt girl-who-shall-not-be-named's feelings and he doesn't want to be made fun of by his friends.

I get it; he gets it, part of it. So we'll keep talking.

In the meantime, feel free to use this example with your children in whichever way it will support your conversations about peer pressure, good choices, consequences of one's actions and crack! If your kids know my kids, please leave names out. I don't know what I'd do if my children made me stop writing about them...they provide the BEST material.

Coming soon: Hooker shoes - the 8th grade trend.


Holly and Jenn