As I strolled through the mall today with my three kids in tow on a special back-to-school shopping extravaganza, I think I subconsciously made minimal purchases. The lights, the air, the sounds, the smells, the ads everywhere, the inconsiderate people that don’t walk on the right side or the window shoppers that stop mid stride in front of you, the bored retail assistants, the money for this money for that just all got to me. My senses were depleted, but I can happily say my wallet was not, and I’ve discovered I no longer like malls.
I did get my kids some new kicks that are saved for the first day of school as if to say, “Hey, I’m not scuffed up yet”; a couple inexpensive shirts that they really don’t need , but $5 is a deal worth snagging; and first day clothes that I “let” them select. Prior to entering the confines of commerce today, I had laid down some heavy mommy bartering before any of those said purchases were made. I am so grateful that my kids are at an age where I can still do this and survive in a mall.
I am telling myself now that I will stand firm on this when they are pre-teens and they start badgering me for the latest fashion trends, but I am scared that this badgering will commence earlier than anticipated. I recall how badly I wanted those redonkulous MC Hammer type diaper pants at the age of eleven, how overjoyed I was when my mom actually was convinced to buy them for me, and why she caved I’ll never remember. I’ve long blanked on all of the sneaky things I would do or say to get my way as a kid, but I loved those pants, and mom, if you’re reading this, thank you for them. I wish I still had them just to show them off like I did back then. I remember wearing them to a school dance in sixth grade , and the confidence oozed out of me for once. Maybe that’s why my mom caved. They were crazy cool like the lavender jacket from Richway that I had at age six which resembled Michael Jackson’s red Beat It jacket complete with zippers galore. That thing hung in my closet until it practically disintegrated.
Since a young age I’ve been aware of the cool kids and their name brand this and name brand that covered in labels, grommets, alligators, high starched collars, and what not that just makes their clothing appear cooler than everyone else’s. I even received a few cool hand-me-downs as a kid, but they were never as cool as my first pair of fancy raspberry high-top Chuck Taylor’s or my clunky clownish Doc Marten’s which I paid over $100 for as a teen thanks to a part-time job at – you guessed it – the mall.
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I want the Joneses to stop paying so much for things. I want the world to stop telling my kids they need to look like the Joneses. I want the Joneses to take a permanent vacation. I refuse to pay full price for anything just because the Joneses have it and my kids want it, because I have common sense. This is the one thing that the Joneses do not have. That full priced fashion will be over and out next month and/or my kid will (A) stain it, (B) grow out of it too fast, or (C) lose interest in it as soon as the Joneses do. Can we all agree that keeping up with the Joneses is notwhat we should be doing? I think so. I also think it is imperative for us as parents to place more value on individuality than teaching our kids to highly value material goods. I’m all for not keeping up with the Joneses. Who’s with me?