by Risa Green
Over the course of the last two weeks, my daughter and I have been preparing for her to go to sleepaway camp. We’ve ordered labels, we’ve bought toiletries, we’ve stamped and addressed envelopes, and, most importantly, we’ve gone clothes shopping. I love shopping with my daughter. She’s a clothes horse (a chip off the old block) and she looks great in everything she puts on (and knows it). But because she has to wear a uniform to school every day, we don’t shop for her all that often, which makes the times we do shop really fun and special for us both. But this time, our shopping trip was a little different than it’s been in past years.
I suggested that we start off at Target for some of the basics, and then round things out over at Gap Kids, like we usually do each summer. But my daughter was not having it, and instead insisted that the only acceptable store at which to shop is Justice. If you are not familiar with Justice, there are only two things you need to know in order to understand it: 1) Sequins and 2) Zebra Stripes. So the next time you see a little eight year-old girl walking around in a silver and black sequined, zebra-striped cap, a hot pink tee-shirt with a zebra-striped heart on it and black and white zebra-striped detachable sleeves, you can feel confident in assuming that her ensemble came from Justice, and also that she is probably my daughter.
No matter how much I argued that sequins were not exactly practical for overnight camp, my daughter argued back that EVERYONE wears this stuff to camp. (I didn’t bother asking how she could possibly know this, considering that she had not yet even been to overnight camp). But then my daughter made the further argument that if she does not wear Justice to overnight camp, everyone will laugh at her. Ahhhh, I thought. So that’s what’s going on. We’ve got a third party shopping with us, and it’s name is Self-Conscious. Well, I thought. Nice to meet you, S.C. I was wondering when you would finally arrive.
As we continued to cross things off of the camp’s “Things to Bring” list, S.C. reared it’s ugly head over and over again. The ‘everyone will laugh at me’ argument was put forth when buying toothpaste: NOT the kind with the picture of princesses on the outside (even though that has been her favorite flavor for the last three years), towels: NOT the ones with High School Musical on them (even though she loves HSM), and sneakers: NOT the pink ones (even though pink has always been her favorite color). She loved me SOOOOOO much when I got her purple jelly shoes with a little wedge heel (very cool) but made me take back the oversized pink sunglasses that she used to love (everyone will think I’m trying to look like Sharpay). When we went to Bed Bath & Beyond to buy sheets, a soap dish, a toothbrush holder and a flashlight, we had to go with her best friend who is also going to camp, because they wanted to have the Same. Exact. Stuff. After all, there’s safety in numbers.
I know I’m in for a long road with S.C., so I’m trying to be patient with her. I remember only wanting to wear Guess? jeans and Bennetton sweaters when I was a kid, and I remember being terrified that people would laugh at me if I didn’t have the things that were deemed “cool”. I remember wanting to look just like everyone else, because I saw what happened to kids who dared to be different. I grew out of it, eventually, and I know that my daughter will, too. But still, I can’t help missing the kid who just a few months ago would pair rainbow striped socks with brown cowboy boots, a purple polka dot dress and an orange shrug, and not even consider that anyone might laugh at her. But now that S.C. has shown up, I suppose I’ve got a lot of sequins and zebra stripes in my future. They say that justice is blind, but in my house, Justice is going to make me wish I were.