Friday, April 9, 2010

Shopping with Father

The Things found themselves clothing-challenged when global warming relocated southern New England’s normally wet and chilly first week of April into the steam room of mid-August.

Thing 1 dripped about the house in one of her many pink sweat jackets.

Thing 2 sweltered in a dual-layer football jersey, leaving behind a trail of his own brine.

justice-perfume-irony “I know what the calendar says, my little ones, but please dig into your drawers! (No, Thing 2, not THOSE drawers! Get your hand out of there this instant!) Delve into the deepest recesses of your closets! Shorts, T-shirts, flip flops! Chop chop! Vamos! Stat and hang a bag of Ringer’s lactate!”

“Oh, but father! My Hannah Montana shorts and High School Musical T-shirts are soooo outdated!” declared Thing 1. “My classmates shall make a mockery of me!”

“Yeah, Pops. And my butt and belly are too big for mine,” piped in Thing 2. “Yo, yo, yo – pass the chips!”

A silence followed filled with the ticks that our digital clocks would make if only they understood artistic license.

“To the mall! To the mall!” the Things cried in unison.

I scratched my thinning grays then pinched my thinner wallet.

Lord, oh, Lord – to the mall, forsooth.

The discount admirals of Old Navy were most kind to the boy: three pairs of shorts, one shirt the color of a Hawaiian sunset luau, pre-stained with dribbled poi.

The girl, though, the girl.

“Old Navy, pish posh. No self-respecting Diva-in-Training would stoop so low, father,” said the Thing known as 1. 

She wanted justice.

Sorry, that’s Justice. With a capital “J.” And ubiquitous peace signs. And many items in Paradise Green, Real Purple and Fuchsia Rose.

"I don’t like these shorts. They stop above my knee and that means too much sunscreen to slather below,” she said after trying six pairs of varying hue but, alas, the same style.

We browse. We disrupt neat stacks in search of sizes. We re-fold poorly but sincerely.

“I like those but I know you, father,” she said. “You won’t let me wear them because they are too short.”

I’m taken aback with confused anger.

“This is the second time in memory I have heard you express this opinion of me, daughter, and I must ask, when have I ever objected to your clothing because of its length?”

“Then how about these,” she said, holding a tattered washcloth that had apparently been barfed up by an anemic rainbow.

“Too short.”


“What? You were the one complaining five minutes ago that the other shorts didn’t go past your knees!”

Thirteen pairs of discards later, we stood in the checkout line. Thing 1, feeling full of femininity and high on retail ecstasy, browsed a perfume display close at hand.

“Mmmm, smell this. I like it so, father!”

“Sweet Thing,” I said, ripping the strip from the tester pad, “you need to first spray the perfume on the paper before you smell it. All you are inhaling are dust mites and cotton fiber.”

I grabbed a bottle, squirted, then waved it under her eager nose.

“Mmm mmm mmm! Oh, father! This is the scent I like best of all,” she said. “What’s it called, father dear?”

My fingers rotated the glass bottle until its name snickered to me.

“Sweet Thing,” I said, “it’s called, ‘Bright.’ ”

* * *

Today’s post is brought to you by “Fatherhood Fridays” at Dad Blogs. Visit, click, show them your bare bodkin:



  1. Is it too much to hope that places like "Justice" will evaporate off the face of the earth by the time my yet to be born daughter gets to that age? Alas, I'm sure it, or its devil spawn, will plague my existence in due time.

  2. Our daughter is almost 5 and I can see these conversations/scenerios happening all too soon.
    Thanks for sharing my future with me.

  3. Well played. I always refold with sincerity. *fist bump*

  4. The horror. The HORROR! Why did I have a daughter? This post was too effective.

  5. I don't know how parents do it. I saw this little girl who was taller than I am and way skinnier than I am at the supermarktet wearing pumps, a mini mini skirt and a sheerish top. I was very uncomfortable looking at her.

  6. Guffawing, because I know this scenario all to well.

    Your sugarcoating was highly effective satirization.

  7. Fie on't!
    The mall...
    'tis a pox and a pestilence.
    Get thee to a thriftery!

  8. Enjoy Justice now while you can. In a few very short years (Middle School), you will hear the word: Abercrombie. It's Latin translation is "wall sized retail porn designed to frazzle parents into frantically throwing wads of cash at "heroine skinny" grumpy sales clerks for overpriced, undersized clothing in an effort to quickly whisk young shopaholics off to the safety of Auntie Anne's." I'll have the spiked lemonade, please.

    Sigh....when did Phil of the Future become Edward of Twilight?

  9. Good to know things are the same no matter WHICH side of the ocean you are from!

  10. My 3yr old daughter runs in to H&M and goes "handbags and shoes, oh my". I'm looking forward to the pain. I guess it will be cheaper than hernia surgery.

  11. Justice?! Hold my hair while I puke.

  12. I LOATHE Justice, and their overpriced crap!!!
    Well, one time we did find this great pair of arm things in black and white stripes for only $12, but other than that...
    I feel your pain, I really do.

  13. they should call that place 'unJustice' older daughter prefers the likes of moody teenage torn and tattered Abercrombie while the little one just oozes the bedazzled rainbow ruffled marshmellow peep of Justice stores - and she's only 6.

    BTW- props to your prose

  14. Wonderful post! It's sweltering here too, but the worst argument I had to deal with was turning on the AC for cancer dog, who is roasting from the steriods that are part of his treatment. Holy cow, it was 82 in here Tuesday!

  15. Hark! Methinks this post has tickled a funny bone.

  16. She knows to use sun screen (notice the tid bit the skin cancer guy picked up on :-) I get stuff at Old Navy because I'm cheap and don't care. But, I understand how girls would be not so into it.

  17. Dude, if Justice and Limited, Too don't disappear, I'm afraid girls will be dressing inappropriately by the time they are three. Of course, living in South Florida, everyone dresses inappropriately. The girls dress like they're 25, and their moms dress like they're 16. It's strange.

  18. Oh my ... if ONLY to be a fly from time to time.

    What a lovely day in retail!

    blessings! many many heartfelt blessings!

  19. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this post. Hits quite close to home.

  20. I am well acquainted with Justice. It is the mecca of all self-respecting fourth grade girls. My middle schooler now worships at the foot of the displays at Aeropostale and American Eagle. Luckily she shuns Abercrombie and Hollister. For today, anyway.


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