It is my 100th post and what better way to celebrate than with a progress report. A couple of previous posts focused on the subject of dads shopping for clothes with daughters. It is, in skiing terms, the double black diamond slope of parenthood. I barely made it down my first time, but by the grace of God managed to make it to the lodge without any bruised egos or broken dreams.
My daughter and I have hit the retail slopes a number of times the past year or two and we’ve made a lot of progress. We still hit our share of moguls, but have managed to avoid any major wipeouts. In hindsight, we probably should have considered starting out on a shopping bunny hill, like, going to CVS for some gum and then worked our way up. Because, like most things, it takes practice to grow accustomed to the environment and find your rhythm. And the reality is, as is the case with most parenting adventures, regardless of where you start, you’ll have your spills and avalanches and may even need a brace or sling after an excursion here or there.
Our own first time out was anything but smooth. I didn’t like her choices, she didn’t like that I was in the same mall. It was awkward to say the least. But over time, we learned to compromise (a LOT) and to focus more on the fact that we were out together having one on one time than the fact that we were shopping for clothes. And oddly enough, now we end up doing both. I had to give on a couple of things and in turn she backed off on others. We’ve worked our way up through green circles and blue squares and are pretty good at navigating the black diamond shopping trails now.
If you’re a dad, single or married, don’t wait until your daughter is sixteen to decide you want to spend time with
her on her turf. Start training now. Today. This very second. I’ve heard too many friends tell me, “and just like that they’re going to college and I don’t even know them.” That thought scares the hell out of me. When they’ve had a bad day in high school, I want my kids to feel comfortable coming to me and saying, “dad, today sucked, wanna hit the mall?” Maybe I’m reaching for the unattainable, but I’m going to give it my best shot. And I believe it starts with stopping once in a while and making an attempt to create those moments now when they’re still young and frankly, need me to drive.
Listen, having your daughter grab a pair of jeans out of your hands and tell you, “no way dad, you’re not wearing that” is a gift. (btw, if you’re reading this daughter, thank you for not letting me buy that shorts / sweater combo. I owe you one) Having her share with you why she considers one blouse better than another, is a gift. Talking about her dreams over lunch in the food court, a gift. And believe me, having her eyes light up over the perfect dress after trying on seventeen at five different stores; all of it, is a gift.
So I just wanted to encourage you to put down the remote, turn off the game, log out of facebook and ask your daughter if she wants to go to the mall. Or, maybe just suggest a trip to Walgreens for a Snickers bar. Then work your way up to Claire’s for earrings, and when you’re ready, Target for an “outfit.” The point is to make the effort now before she has friends with cars. And don’t feel like the point is to spend money. This can be a great chance to slip in discussions about budgets, value, needs versus wants etc. Now my daughter is the one telling me she’ll wait until she finds exactly what she wants.
So ask her. She may balk at first, but find a way to convince her to go. You may be a little wobbly at first, but at some point you’ll reach the base and look back at the mountain you just navigated. And what a thrill it’ll be when she’s the one who suggests you get back on the t-bar and head your way back to the top for another go.