I Knew That

Cait has finally reached the age where she’s been made aware by friends of clothes labels. I always knew that I was on borrowed shopping time, because this kid came out of the womb with her own sharp sense of fashion style. I’m happy to have gotten away with outlets and discount stores with her for as long as I have, you see, because unlike my daughter I could care less about fashion. I lean more toward ‘if you’re covered, you’re good to go.’

Don’t get me wrong. Just because I could be happy wearing a uniform day in and day out, doesn’t mean that I don’t get people who care about clothes. Or that I don’t have a sense of what looks good. It’s just that with a life full of animals, building projects, and gardening dirt, it’s not worth it to spend a lot of money on expensive clothes that are quickly going to look old before their time.

So when Cait asked if we could go clothes shopping, and then specified that she’d like to go to the popular shops du jour, I sighed a big sigh, clutched my wallet to my breast, blessed myself for mercy’s sake, and said okay.

First, we went to Aeropostale, which Cait pronounced Airo Pastel. I corrected her pronunciation.

“I knew that,” Cait said.

We found a few cute things that were more than I was accustomed to paying for Cait’s stuff, but not outrageous. I said okay.

Next, we went to Abercrombie and Fitch, which I pronounced Finch. Cait corrected me, “Mom, there are no birds flying around here. It’s Fitch.”

“I knew that,” I said.

She tried on a pair of low riders. Only looking at herself from the front, I suggested she turn around and bend her knees, as if she were going to sit. She saw her crack, ah, I mean my point.

“I knew that,” she said, and quickly put the pants back.

Then she found a shirt that she really liked. In an effort to educate Cait on the finer points of comparison shopping, I pointed out to her that this one item totaled as much as the five items she’d just purchased at AeroPostale. She gripped tightly to the shirt, not quite able to put it back.

“Here’s the thing with shopping,” I said. “That shirt is ridiculously over-priced. But sometimes when you really love something that much, it’s okay to splurge because you’re going to feel great every time you put it on.” I looked at Cait, “The question is: Do you love it that much?”

“I’m not sure…,” Cait said.

“Okay, then what we do is look at a couple of other stores to see if we can find this or something similar at a better price. If we can’t, and you decide you really love this shirt, we’ll come back and buy it.”

Relieved that I understood her dilemma and wasn’t just going to be reflexively cheap, Cait’s face broke into a wide smile. She grabbed my hand as we walked out of the store and said, “This is fun, Mom. I’m glad you’re here.”

Next on her list was American Eagle. We quickly found a shirt close enough in looks for a third of the price, and a valuable shopping lesson was learned.

On the way out, she asked, “What do you think of this tankini?”

I went to the next table and said, “I like this tank-tini better.”

“Mom, it’s tankini, not tank-tini.”

“I knew that,” I said a bit wearily.

Cait asked, “You had enough, Mom?”

“Yeah, I think I’m at my shopping limit for the day…”

“I knew that,” Cait smiled. “How about we head home?”

“Sounds like a wrap to me.”

We elbowed each other as we ran for the door.

17 thoughts on “I Knew That”

  1. Hi Karen, been having some major writer’s block so doing more photography these days :)

    i dropped you an email a while back, probably you didn’t get it… africa is going well i’m settling into the new lab, got some major responsibilities, doing a prof job as a postdoc so definitely good for the career.

    it’s interesting that many of the things we take for granted in the states… roads… the internet etc. just the tools that are needed for working are difficult to come by and i have to organise everything myself…

    at the end of the day though it’s nice to know how to rent a crane in 2 days for the lowest amount of money…

  2. Oh I fear this day, which is coming…

    I think you did great! You and Cait.

    Someone just gave my boys a bag full of Hurley and Amer Eagle hoodies and zippies (??? I don’t know the lingo). They’re stoked, and so am I. I love free fashion, and they don’t mind hand-me-downs.

    edj’s last blog post..The Last Party

  3. Jenny, we’ve relied on my sister’s daughters’ hand-me-downs. Those girls are power shoppers. :)

    Linda, that’s how I feel. I sorta remember…

    Donna, yeah fortunately she already knows that. I actually think this one trip to the “name” stores has already gotten it out of her system. I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. When she saw how far (or rather now not far) her dollar went at these stores, she’s ready to head back to Marshalls.

    WolfGril, yes call your mother right now! All daughters — call your mothers right now! We love hearing from you.

    Nutmeg, the Aéropostale name originated from a 1920s French/Latin-American airmail firm. You can pronounce it the way Amy has above. Some pronounce it arrow-paw-stull, others pronounce it arrow-po-stale. With it’s latin origins the “t” is actually silent. So it’s pronounced arrow-paw-sull, or arrow-po-sale. The kids in the store pronounce it arrow pos stull. Take your pick. :)

  4. Awww, you are making me homesick for my mother! I live in North Vancouver, BC and my family lives in the Niagara Region in Ontario, oh the good old days. Thank you for the endearing story, I’m going to call my Mom right now…

  5. If I were next to you I’d high five you. ( as a veteran of 2 girls and $$$$ clothes shopping) I agree A&F is over the top. Some of the clothes from A&F show up at our local Goodwill for a fraction of the price. Thank heavens A. likes Target.

  6. Mrs. G. Aero-whaaaa is the correct pronunciation! LOL!

    Amy and Jenn, I think mothers everywhere have to be in universal agreement on the problem with A&F’s soft porn tactics. Very unfortunate… The good news was that Cait saw for herself that everything in that store was not only way overpriced, but she could find pretty much all of it for significantly less at other stores. She’s already lost interest in its cache.

  7. You two are such an awesome pair! I also recognize the need for sometimes buying the name brand stuff- luckily it’s not too important until they get older. I own several sweats from American Eagle myself- they are SO soft. My old stuff is “dog stuff” my newer stuff is mine. As for A&F I’m lucky that my mother in law will buy for her from that store so I don’t have to.

  8. I’m lamenting the days that it didn’t matter what I bought off the clearance rack at Kohl’s, it was good enough for my kids. I just found out I’ve been mispronouncing Aeropostale-it’s not Air O Postal. It rhymes with air o hostile. As for Abercrombie, I draw the line there. The softcore billboards right as you walk into the store prevent me from giving them any of my money.

    I like your shirt explanation. Good advice for young and old.

  9. Mosilager, how goes it? Long time no hear. Would love to know more about how life is in Africa for a busy doc.

    Like you, I feel companies should pay us for advertising if they insist on putting labels on the outside of clothes. After all, they’ve turned most everybody into walking billboards.

    Deb, this is great advice! Thank you. This is a great way to start teaching money management!

  10. I think you recovered well.

    Looking to a long future of such encounters I would suggest considering a clothes allowance. There are lots of ways to do them from monthly to annual lump sum. A middle road so you could retain some leverage for guidance on large or pricey purchases would be an annual amount on paper divided quarterly and a portion she would get in cash for buying socks and hose; if she saves maybe the nonessential shirt or jeans. Then either annually she gets more in cash or if you have the latitude she earns some of it.

    The variables are endless. And sooner or later her friends are going to persuade her to buy something that she later won’t wear outside the house. That is a lesson that will pay big dividends.

  11. Hey you have some great parenting skills there… I’ve always figured that if the company wants to put a label on my clothes they should pay me for the advertising. no one’s taken me up on the offer yet unfortunately.

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