Sunday, May 22, 2011

A Prayer on Sunday (Or: Dear Lord, Help Me Survive My Teenager!)

By Mary Alford-Carman

I just came home from a six-hour-outing with my teenage daughter and I'm ready for the loony bin, or a heavy dose of some kind of controlled substance. A couple of nights ago I was watching an episode of The Middle, a tongue-in-cheek show on ABC about a middle class family and the struggles of parenting. The mom, played by Patricia Heaton, took her teenaged daughter out to shop for bathing suits and what she had hoped would be a pleasant outing turned into something resembling a war zone. I laughed. Silly me, I should have been taking notes. The eighth grade dance is in a few weeks and with the dress code, which suggested Sunday dress, no spaghetti straps, I felt we were good to go. (Did I mention that I am hopelessly optimistic and delusional?)

At 12:15 in the afternoon we picked up one of my daughter's friends and headed to the mall to meet up with my very cool, thirty-year-old niece, Veronica. She was there to help and hopefully speed the process along. Here's what happened instead: store number one had nothing, nada, and zip. Nothing was tried on or even looked at with any notion of interest. Store number two was way funky and the one dress (in an entire sea of dresses) that was picked out was strapless. "But I can wear a sweater vest and cover the top," was what I was told when I brought up the dress code. After twenty minutes in line just to try the dress on, it went back on the rack. The dress was way too inappropriate for a thirteen-year-old. My daughter looked like she was trying out for Lolita and I was about to faint. Store number three was a walk-in, walk-out venture. She didn't even like the way the store looked. At store number four, I laid down the law. "You WILL try on any dresses that Veronica and I pick out in your size that is appropriate." As you can guess, this was met with rolling eyes, slouching posture, heavy sighs and many muttered comments under my daughter's breath.

Once she was in the dressing room, the nightmare continued. "I hate all of these. I don't want to try any of them on. Why are you doing this to me?" I told her if she didn't try on those dresses and at least give us an idea of what she was looking for, the day was over and she could pull something out of her closet for the dance. My daughter's friend was encouraging and told her she had to try something on to get an idea of what might work. I could have kissed her, because Veronica and I were ready to mount brooms and try casting a spell of submission. My daughter tried on the dresses with slumped shoulders and a look that would have had a paratrooper jumping without the chute. We left store number four with nothing. My niece was close to fuming and I was close to tears. After four hours of shopping we were back where we started, at store number one. Suddenly, five dresses were found in what could almost be called a timely manner. "I didn't see these before." Geez, did she think the store put them out after she left the first time?

In the fifth hour, two dresses were found, and I swear I thought I heard a heavenly choir of angels singing. Not only did she find THE dress (which we had passed three times the first time we came in the store), she found a little matching sweater to go with it, and they were on sale! Isn't that just the way things go? Just when you think you understand why some animals eat their young, something happens. The "Thank you Mommy," comes and saves the day. The way she looked in the dress, even the expression she had on her face didn't necessarily make the experience worth it, but showed we had come through the experience intact. Thank you Lord for my beautiful daughter. I am grateful, but next time, can I hire a personal shopper? Amen.


  1. Ahh, every time I hear about shopping and teenage daughters, that's when I realize how lucky I am to have teenage sons who could care less what they wear. On the other hand, wanna come over and try to get them in church clothes on a Sunday or to smile in a picture? We're gonna make it through...I think...

  2. I have to say it was a learning experience - miserable to say the least. I thought teenage girls loved to shop. I know when I was her age I reveled in the opportunity to go shopping with anyone.

  3. From what I understand, "they" ususally like to go shopping within their peer group...the rest of us are just useless adults or ATMs!

  4. Great V this summer you can take Kady shopping. First its impossible to find anything that fits and if I do it must meet the list of "must not haves" anything sparkly; anything pink; no names or pictures on it; no revealing necklines; not too tight; ...there's more she'll let you know.

    Or maybe we should send you and Mike with both kids! Pat, well it takes him four hours to choose a pair of jeans and shirt. I bring a book. Kady will never go near a dress, lace, etc. I'm going to allow you to do the back to school shopping, you'll have a blast. Me, I'll be having adult beverages with other grown ups!

  5. Farmer's Daughter...I might just join you on that adult beverage!


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