How do you know when you’ve been spending too much time with teenagers?
When you start acting like them. Case in point: My teenage daughter is going to her first high school homecoming dance. Logic dictates that one should wait until you are within 24 hours of the dance before deciding what shoes you will wear. It goes without saying that the added pressure to find shoes RIGHT FUCKING NOW makes for an optimal shopping experience. This is especially so when you are the mother driving four teenage girls around town to shop for said shoes. And not any shoes will do. You could go to a store with fifty suitable shoes that fit the agreed parameters with respect to color, height, shape, style, cost, texture, comfort and cool factor but they have to be exactly perfect. I mean, I’m not really chiding the girls for wanting the perfect shoe. I’ve been known to orchestrate entire outfits around a pair of smokin’ heels. Shoes ARE the mirror of the soul.
I couldn’t understand at first how I ended up panicked sitting on the Target shoe department floor with one of my daughter’s distraught friends. Her sweet little eyes filled with tears because she couldn’t find any shoes that fit. Also, this was the ONLY chance she would have to get some in time. Her self-worth hung in the balance and I would not leave a fellow shoe soldier behind. It was like some wicked reality show where contestants were tasked to accomplish some improbable feat within an hour. In fairness, said friend has a size 9 1/2 foot that may be two inches wide. Her tears were like daggers to my heart. She could only spend forty dollars. I was prepared to pay whatever it took of my own money to make her happy.
I succumbed to complete tunnel vision. I made procurement of the perfect homecoming dance shoes for my daughter’s friend my singular mission. I scoured the aisles for her size. I would not be satisfied until I opened every shoe box from size 8 1/2 to 10. Even if I found the right size, the style was wrong, and in any event she wasn’t allowed to wear heels. Did I agree with that rule for my teenager? No time to ponder. I made my daughter’s friend try on shoe after shoe, barely noticing that I was probably making matters worse. I face-timed my other daughter at home to inventory my own shoes to see if something would suffice. I called a friend with my shoe size to see what shoes she could pull out of her ass. Target was a bust, at least for the feet of my teenager’s friend. I lost track of what my own daughter was doing which is my explanation for the 4 1/2 inch heel hooker pumps I inadvertently bought for my 14YO.
It didn’t matter. The only thing that mattered was to find perfect shoes for the teenager who wasn’t my daughter. We stormed DSW. I ordered shoe salesmen to measure feet. We opened boxes and made a mess of the floor with tissue paper. We braved five o’clock traffic. (“We” as in “Me”). I was slow to declare defeat, but eventually the store would close and I would have to face my perfect shoe demons. The next day, I took a closer look at the exotic dancer heels I apparently purchased for my teen. I was ready for the inevitable teen drama backlash. Instead of resorting to the simple fact that I’m the adult and the one with the bank account, I tried practicality.
“I don’t mean to burst your bubble, sweetheart, but you will not survive 10 minutes in these shoes. I couldn’t even wear shoes this tall and I’m used to wearing heels. I think you might even sprain your ankle if you tried.”
“Oh, okay, mom. We can return them. I can wear a pair of yours.”
“Really? Just like that? Are you actually agreeing with me?”
“I don’t really care about the shoes. I’ll only have them on for pictures.”
“What do you mean, ‘only for pictures’?”
“All the girls take off their shoes after we get our picture taken.”
That was the precise moment I knew I was spending too much time with teenagers. And then again when the girls decided they would all wear combat boots.