Preppy People, Meet The Hot Topic People

If the names L.L.Bean, Lacoste, Chris Craft, or Benetton bring back some bad memories, you aren’t alone. I spent the better part of my middle school days lost in the midst of the “preppy era” where pink and green were the “IN” colors of the day. I spent hours staring into the Benetton store window admiring all the bright colors and dreaming of owning one of those sweaters.

preppy example

Yes I'm embarrased to admit I scanned this from my very own copy of the Official Preppy Handbook. Not only did I own it, but I colored it in according to the directions which means I actually read it. Why did we think this was a good look?

I have a theory on how the preppy thing started.

A rich fashion-designer-type is sitting around his posh home sipping a brandy when his poodle throws up some crushed florescent crayons on an imported corduroy rug and inspires the Spring collection. We have Rover to thank for looking ridiculous for years.

Signs of Preppiness…

Bear with me on the real awkward photos of me that follow. I’m sure it was just bad lighting and Photoshop didn’t exist yet. Be gentle.

Corduroy Pants

If your florescent green wide corduroy pants caused the cones in your classmate’s retina to scream and shut down in color overload, your popularity was practically guaranteed to increase tenfold.

Animal logos

The Izod alligator was the badge of coolness. Higher than the alligator on the fashion evolutionary scale was the horse, and the smell of the guys’ Polo cologne filled the hallways thanks to Ralph Lauren.

Calvin Klein, Jordache & Gloria Vanderbilt jeans

(This is not me…it’s Brooke Shields in case you were confused.)
Who doesn’t remember the famous line?

If you didn’t have to lie flat, struggle, tug and then finish with hopping around to squeeze in them, your jeans weren’t tight enough. OK now I feel guilty for complaining about my daughter’s skater jeans and see I’m getting payback.

Recently my mother arrived at my house with a surprise. My old pair of Jordache jeans that I had painstakingly sewed up the inseam to make them tighter. *Deep sigh* A treasure that my not-impressed-with-the-vintage-jeans daughter tossed off to the side. How dare she! They sit patiently on my dresser in the hopes that one day I can fit more than my arm in there and re-live the magic.

The add-a-bead necklace

fake add a bead necklace

I dare you to question their authenticity.

Remember that necklace? Each bead was 18K gold, so even the tiny little beads were like $18. I remember walking to the jewelry store in the strip mall beside my neighborhood and laying a pile of change on the counter hoping I had enough to cover the tax so I could add one more tiny bead. By the time I got home, it already had a dent in it. That’s how you knew they were real.

While the rich kids paraded around with 3 strands filled to the clasp with the large mm beads, there I was with my 3-5 measly 3mm and 5mm beads that were so small you needed a microscope to see them.

That’s when you mistakenly fall into the fake add-a-bead necklace trap. Look! I have 23 large beads. Yes they are turning green but just look at ’em!

preppy outfit

Who needs good hair when you have what is really important...the real add-a-beads (the shorter smaller necklace) and the fake ones and my only preppy shirt. I would have worn this every day if I could have. Thank goodness for slow laundry turnover.

My parents were sensible and didn’t frivolously spend money on fads. In order to cease my begging for name brand clothes, I got about $20 a week allowance that I had to use for my activities and all my clothes, and I learned to stretch my dollars by digging through the racks at TJ Maxx in hopes of finding something name brand even if half a pocket was missing.

The real thing out of reach price-wise, preppy status was looking unattainable. Then it happened. The day I found one green Polo shirt hidden deep within the racks. I practically screamed in delight and ignored the tiny hole under the sleeve! It became my prized possession. Making the most of it, I wore it twice a week – Mondays and Thursdays – as well as in every photograph for the next two years. Just because it was long sleeve didn’t stop me from wearing in in 78 degree humidity. Something about wearing that horse made you feel like you were sitting high in the saddle, and it was always a great day.

Bermuda Bags

bermuda bag

These are still popular and even cuter today. Photo credit to where you can buy them. Now I want one!

My favorite fashion accessory and a must-have was the bermuda bag. The covers were exchangeable so you could match whatever you were wearing. This lead to another popular trend that caused an issue for me…


Everything could be propelled to an even cooler status if they were embroidered with your initials. This was a problem. I don’t have a middle name. Really. My mother explained the reason behind this was because she went by her middle name, but was constantly called her first name. To avoid such confusion, she didn’t give people any choice but to call me Melinda. Thank goodness I wasn’t the product of celebrities and stuck with Zuzu.

This was an issue when having a sweater embroidered since 2 initials throws the monogram off balance. After learning that lesson with a sweater, I opted to ditch the initials on my purse cover.

The Baseball Shirt

the baseball tee

The baseball t-shirt. Always look fashionable while tangled in a phone cord.

Penny Loafers, Duck Shoes, Leather Moccasins and Sperry Topsiders

It’s hard to tell in the picture, but I’m wearing penny loafers. You never know when a penny is going to come in handy, and you conveniently have 2! That’s practically 1/4 of a gumball.

penny loafers preppy look

Under my only cable cardigan? Oh there's that green shirt again. Again it's all about distracting from the bad hair.

The IZOD shirt. The hair got better eventually. I just felt I had to prove it.

The only thing worse than growing up in this label-conscious society was not being ridiculously wealthly during it. It didn’t really bother me that I didn’t have $1000s to spend on my school wardrobe like so many of my friends who had a closet full of the “in” clothes with the tags still on. That just made my few items I did have worth that much more to me. I appreciated what I had and looking back my parents taught me a valuable lesson about fads. Don’t get sucked into them. It’s a waste of money. This is why I love consignment stores and the thrill of the hunt.

Today’s Preppy

Out shopping for clothes for my son’s birthday, my soon-to-be-fourteen-year-old daughter mentioned “Hot Topic” people. I listened and learned how teens that wear Hollister and Aeropostale clothes are the preppy equivalent of today.

“Preppy” people apparently have no business stepping foot into Hot Topic which is reserved for the hard core music fans of the music of Lady Gaga, Falling in Reverse, Asking Alexandria, Black Veil Brides, and other bands that I couldn’t spell. She considers it “cheating” on Hot Topic to walk into Hollister. The only exception to this rule is you might have to go there to a preppy store to purchase brightly colored pants which are all the rage. Hmm…that sounds scarily familiar. They come in green and pink, too. *Flashback*

I’m told it is all about being bright and colorful or going completely opposite by wearing all black.

As we approached Hot Topic, she began salivating at the thought of what’s new in there.

“Sorry we can’t go in there,” I said.

“What?! Why not? I want to see if they have new Lady Gaga shirts.”

“Your rules. Excuse me but, YOU’RE wearing Hollister.”

She looks down and screams “Ahh!”

I didn’t really get a good feel for what is Hot Topicish and what is preppy as it all seems to be mixed together to me. Perhaps if they had the updated version of the Preppy Handbook, things would be clearer.

Were you in school during the preppy era?
Did you have this book?

the preppy handbook

Technically Superior Children of Today

cavemanLet’s face it. We are raising a generation of high-tech savvy children than make us look like cavemen banging rocks together. I consider myself pretty geeky when it comes to electronics, but the kids pick it up as naturally as holding a fork.

My son wasn’t even two when he first began using a computer. Easily navigating his educational game with the mouse while I cooked dinner, his only limitation seemed to be his size. He fell off the computer chair and busted his lip. Now almost 17, he can host his own server for online games and other technical marvels I can only admire in wonder.

mixing boardMy thirteen year old musician’s room houses a massive collection of electronic wires running from various instruments through an amp or mixing board and into the computer where she creates her own songs. Clipping, adding effects, and mixing sounds are simple to her.

Then there is my little six year old who has advanced skills when it comes to the workings of my iPhone. She enjoys recording audio clips on it in the car (I didn’t know it did that), and more than once I have come to her for advice.

My house is bursting with knowledge of all things electronic.

This is why it’s so hard for me to understand why it is the simple things that leave them staring blankly…

open bread bag with twistie tie

How does this thing work? Where is the plug?

The twisty tie on the bread bag is apparently complicated. I feel so smart that I know how to use it.

EMP! All Electronics Are Down!

Grounding your child isn’t what it used to be.

When I was grounded to my room, I had an old shortwave radio and record player to keep myself amused. True torture as I would rather be roaming the neighborhood on my bike.

Today your child WANTS to be in his room. So what is a parent to do?

We are a high tech loving family, so now when my children are grounded it sets off a fifteen minute treasure hunt of confiscating all electronic devices:

The Phones confiscated – CHECK


The iPods – CHECK

Laptops – CHECK

Phhhhew…I’m exhausted. A large pile of equipment now clutters up my dresser where I can keep a watch on it while I work.

Bring in the EMP Personal Grounding Device

In Call of Duty MW2 the best killstreak reward is the EMP. I want a personal version – smaller than the one used in Ocean’s Eleven [link to clip] because:

  • I can’t carry that thing!
  • I have nowhere to keep it – my closet is full
  • My Home Owners Association would not look kindly at knocking out the entire neighborhood.

I need a handheld version that covers one room’s worth so only the child in trouble is affected. Then I simply walk in and shout “EMP!! Electronics are DOWN!!”

I will emulate this voice – it has to be in this urgent tone

The only electronic I don’t need to confiscate?

The alarm clock. It doesn’t work for them so why bother.

Grounding was so much easier when we were little wasn’t it?

Packing Tape and Cardboard Dreams

dreamIn most homes cardboard boxes come and go without much thought. There was a time when cardboard was GOLD to child #2, The Artist.

Always amused at her creativity and overactive imagination, I still couldn’t help but be frustrated by the lack of tape in the house. Anytime I needed to mail a box or wrap a present, I found only empty dispensers in the drawers. Purchasing both packing and Scotch tape in the 3 roll packs only seemed to make it disappear three times as fast. Pulling tape off the carpet in the project assembly area of the living room became my daily routine, and I realized I was dealing with a tape obsession of epic proportions – a two-or three-roll-a-week habit at its peak.

Better than duct tape

Some people say duct tape fixes everything. The Artist felt that way about tape in general and was always in search of an excuse to wield the mighty dispenser for quick fixes on things such as mending ripped Barbie dresses and laminating a book bag. I would swear she broke things on purpose just to use tape.

three little pigs

I had to ask permission to post this. She made the pig nose and wolf accessories. Yes, those are pink socks on the pig's arms.

While unpacking my new desk from three large boxes, I saw her salivating at the amount of cardboard as she asked, “Can I have that?” A dream come true.

Drowning in cardboard

My house was soon invaded with large cardboard creations. After carefully constructing and decorating the stage, she created costumes and patiently practiced lines with her little sister for the “Three Little Pigs” production. It was adorable.

Cardboard cars get good gas mileage

cardboard carNeighbors still reminisce about the days of seeing her out in the driveway hard at work on her cardboard masterpiece. Built atop a toddler ride-on toy with painstaking detail, she crafted a car that worked. She took her little sister for rides around the house and down the sidewalk.

I thanked her for saving me a lot of money in the future when she got a driver’s license, but eventually the car fell apart. Heartbroken at the thought of tossing it to the curb on trash day, I knew another creation would eventually take its place.

Then came the day that the creations were no more. The packing tape obsession was replaced with a cell phone addiction, boyfriends, and Lady Gaga. She turns thirteen today – an official teen although she’s been there for years.

Despite her telling me that I didn’t have to write about her like I did my son, I must. She’s my only reader in the family. My #1 fan who even stole the coffee mug with my logo on it, and asked me to come speak at career day. I dodged that appearance…maybe next year. I had no idea what I would say other than, “This is how you become crazy after having kids.”

The torch has been passed

paper shoesLooks like the creative bug has bit her little sister. This weekend she used all the tape in the house and a stack of paper bags to create “Paper Sandals”. I didn’t let her wear them to the grocery store, but so far I’m impressed with their durability. Sock Monkey got a pair, too. I haven’t been measured for my designer pair yet.

The tradition of tape and paper dreams continues…

Happy Birthday Sweetie!
Your imagination, artistic talent, and natural, musical ability amaze me every day. You are so good with your little sister who adores you, and I’m so proud of you. Plus you make me laugh harder than anyone.

Love Always,
Mom – Your #1 fan

Her reply…in true teen style:
Thanks mom :/ your so embarrassing!!!! -the apparently artist
P.S. I never got to choose my name for here.
I don’t approve.

And a comment from her friend that I promised to add (sorry I can’t approve comments from minors..internet safety you know) πŸ™‚

It’s cute and would love to have that new stylish car and it’s probably hard being you. Hope not much more tape is needed
I have a new invention reusable tape. U should try it ha ha

Disclaimer: These teen comments were translated from the original texting versions for the purpose of understanding them. πŸ™‚
I’m awaiting reusable tape…

No Manual Included

Sixteen years ago I experienced a life-changing experience, and I could not have predicted the impact it would have on life as I knew it.

Unprepared and scared of what lie ahead, I found myself in a hospital bed for the first time in my life. Attached to what seemed like way too many wires hooked to various machines, I panicked.

Ripping the IV out of my hand and pulling off the EKG pads, I jumped out of bed and headed for the door as I matter-of-factly announced “I’ve decided I’m not going to have a baby today, and I’m going home.” OK that was just crazy talk from an irrational first-time mother, and I was kindly escorted back into the delivery room. My beautiful son was born a few hours later, and I felt an overwhelming warmness in my heart unlike anything I had ever experienced. It was new, exciting, and downright frightening. The rest of the world seemed to fade away as we entered the world of parenthood in a sleepless blur surrounded by the smell of Johnson & Johnson baby shampoo.

The Trip Home

After being sprung from the hospital and a frustrating half hour installing the car seat, the journey to a new life began…at 35 mph on a 55 mph road. I was certain the pre-baby preparations were perfect. The nursery was all decorated, the clothes were all folded in the dresser, and the changing table was stocked with neatly organized baby supplies. The oversight was in not having a package of wipes OPEN and ready to go.

Two minutes after entering the front door, a new diaper was urgently necessary. Having been pampered in the hospital to the point of not even changing a diaper, I was shocked at the tar that came out of my new baby. OMG! What is that!?! Is he broken? Where is the manual? No manual!!! AUUGGHH!! Now I’m faced with a mess and a sealed package of wipes. Grabbing a washcloth I got the mess cleaned up and threw away the washcloth. Thoughts ran threw my head such as:
“I can’t believe they let us take home this baby!”
“I have no idea what I am doing – I don’t have a baby license!”
“I get to keep him, right? Even if I mess up?”

With all the best intentions of using cloth diapers, within two days I realized I wasn’t cut out for rinsing a cloth diaper in the toilet. Empathetic towards the pre-Pampers generation, I was breaking all records tossing gross cloths in the trash and quickly concluded that wasn’t for me. “How in the world am I going to handle it if he throws up,” I wondered.

With no formal training or instructions to go by, we are thrown into the world of parenting. Luckily a tolerance to all things gross and frustrating develops slowly over time. Let’s face it. Installing a car seat is a walk in the park next to untangling a set of headphones while an impatient teen hovers or consoling a teary-eyed child who lost her best friend.

My Talkative Buddy

“Little Buddy”, as we liked to call him, could talk your ear off. He was only 2 when I was pregnant with child #2. By then I was working at home with no daycare, so he had to accompany me to the OB-GYN appointments. This is not the best situation to be in with an inquisitive two-year-old. I was attempting to fill a cup while simultaneously keeping him from touching everything in the bathroom when he got the brilliant idea to cover the action play-by-play style. “What are you doing, Mom?” “Oh wow, you got it in the cup!” “Good for you” *claps* “Why are you peeing in a cup?” “Why are you putting it in that cabinet?” “Why do they want that?” “That’s gross.” …

Let me also mention that the bathroom was literally off the main waiting room, so everyone heard his commentary. This is just embarrassment training for the day you find your child naked and running around the clothing racks at Target.

The Emergency

Nothing prepares you for the first major boo boo your child gets. He was two when he fell off the computer chair and bit through his bottom lip. With an ice-filled washcloth as a temporary fix, we rushed to the doctor office. I was rambling and muttering to myself something about stitches, and I heard the sweet voice from the backseat reassuringly say, “I’m OK Mom.”

Then years whirl by. Potty Training – Kindergarten – Science Fair Projects -Pokemon Cards – Baseball – Basketball – Middle School – High School

The Driving Lesson

Yes that is “lesson” as in singular. I’m a bad passenger in a car with a seasoned driver, so I don’t make the best driving teacher. We were fine until we took to the street. He claims I screamed. In my defense, I thought we were going to take out the tennis courts. I was fired on the spot. Valium may be required if I’m put back on duty.

I can’t believe my baby is 16, and I only have him here for two more precious years. He is such a wonderful kid even if he does call me a Noob while we play Black Ops. It all goes so fast.

My favorite memory is a conversation I had with him when he was in first grade.

Son: “Mom. When I’m big I’m going to live in the house next to yours.”

Me: “That’s so sweet, but believe me you will change your mind when you are older.”

Son: “No way! AND I will ride my bike to your house and take you out to eat dinner.”

Me: “Don’t you think you might have a car by then?”

Son: “Why? I have a good bike.”

He was asleep at midnight, so I couldn’t wish him Happy Birthday. I did kiss his cheek and tuck him in. Even at over six feet tall, he is still my baby.

Happy Birthday Son!!
Love Always,

Level Up


My gamer friends know how excited I get while earning achievements on my xbox 360, so you can imagine how insanely crazed I am when I unlock a real life achievement.

I used to be a cord untangling noob

I’ve been stuck at level 2 of the Cord Untangling Skill for three years despite the fact that my kids seem to bring me a set of ipod headphones to untangle on a daily basis. I still don’t know how they can get those things tied into 25 knots on top of each other.

New achievement unlocked

I just had to share my excitement over unlocking the next level and being promoted to Cord Untangler Pro Level 5. I know! I just zoomed right past 3 levels with this bad boy:

tangled cords

1 xbox headset and 3 sets of ipod headphones

Please note the award-winning knot the green arrow is pointing to, since this is what led me to victory.

Where is my prize?

The owner of this unbelievable mess assures me a certificate and prize is on its way. It better be pink Skull Candy headphones since they “disappeared” two days after I got them, and the guilty party hasn’t stepped forward. An investigation is currently underway.

I’m still waiting for my reward. 3 dirty socks and an empty Wendy’s bag can’t possibly be it. Right?

It must be stuck in the mail.

The ringing in my head


If you call my home phone, you are going to get voice mail. The house phone has become an ancient relic due to everyone using their cell phones. I’m seriously leaning toward getting rid of it because:

  • 95% of the calls are telemarketers
  • Usually the handsets are dead and lost in the couch

Incoming messages

This is the voice mail message I wish I could create:

I can’t come to the phone right now because I’m busy unstopping a toilet for the 3rd time today and my dog just threw up.

If you are a telemarketer, I appreciate your dedication to the job as you have been attempting to contact me 4 times a day for the last six months, but can’t you take a hint? I have caller ID and will never pick up the phone. Don’t make me answer it and hand it to my little girl who will sing Lady Gaga songs until you go away. I have no money to donate as I am currently undergoing counseling for distress caused by a constant phone ringing noise that is all your fault. Please leave me your home phone number so I can call you at dinner time to discuss medical reimbursement options.

If you are calling for one of my children, please text their cells. I’m pretty sure they don’t know how to answer a phone, since they never pick up when I call. This explains why they are coming to school in clothes that don’t fit since they ignored my call from the store when I needed to know the size. According to the data usage on my bill they are currently texting half of the population of the US, so if you don’t have the number, I’m sorry to inform you that you didn’t make the cut.

If you are the annoying friend that calls 10 times in a row if no one answers, I’m really disliking you at the moment because you woke up the baby from a rare monthly nap and my blissful peace has been disrupted. Please talk to your mother about phone etiquette and come over immediately to babysit.

If you are friends with my daughter, please be aware that her cell phone is taken away on a daily basis, and I don’t appreciate hearing the “da da ding” every 2 minutes as you frantically try to get in touch with her via text. When she does have her phone, it is like an extra appendage and she would be responding. Don’t make me text you back at 1am and lecture you on why you should be sleeping at this hour and how you are interrupting my five hours of beauty rest which may result in my scaring some small children at the bus stop this morning.

If you are calling me, call my cell phone. If I’m not in the middle of playing Diner Dash or posting goofy pictures to Facebook, I might answer. If you are my child’s school nurse notifying me that someone is faking sickness to come home, please inform them that I have a lot of cleaning to do. I have a feeling the illness will quickly disappear and P.E. will look more attractive.

That won’t fit

I can’t say all that in 10 seconds, so I think I will just leave “If you are interested in contacting anyone in this household, please go to for instructions.”

Saying goodbye to the vampire


Vampire hours

Each summer my son reverts back to what I refer to as “the vampire hours.” He has his days and nights mixed up.

Now if you thought that was reserved for infants, you haven’t experienced a teenage boy’s version of summer. I’m startled awake by the noise from the kitchen as he makes lunch at 3am.

He rustles from his cave

Hearing a familiar clinking sound, he bounds from his room. Having been without human contact for the last 6-7 hours, he is excited to have someone to talk to. I guess it is good to hear a human voice after you have been busy modding alien creatures on a computer game all night. Many of the programmers I know are night owls, so he would fit right in at MIT…his dream school.

I’m not awake yet

I’m innocently making coffee at 7am when he materializes in the kitchen. Did I just hear the “whhoossh” of a cape? The excited rambling about his night’s accomplishments swirls in my sleepy brain. For half an hour, I savor this rare interaction with him. He ends the conversation with the daily question, “What’s for dinner?”

Dinner at this hour?
“It’s 7:00am,” I reply. “The dinner you slept through is in the refrigerator. By the way, do you have a recent photo I can put on the wall in case I forget what you look like?”

“Very amusing.”

He makes a peanut butter sandwich and disappears back to the cave. By noon he is asleep.

Life goes on without him

The girls and I had many adventures while the vampire slept. He promised to go see Toy Story 3 with us but couldn’t stay awake. I returned from the movie a crying mess. Standing in his doorway, I mumbled something like “I only have three more years with you, and you can’t even go to the movies with me.” After that guilt-inducing display, he spent a few mornings watching movies with me. I was thrilled!

Our summer family memory…yes that is singular

Then came the day the three kids had a dentist appointment at 10:00am. After the appointment I suggested we all go to lunch. It was a special occasion…the only time during the summer that all three kids were:

  • Dressed
  • Clean
  • Awake
  • Trapped in the car with me with no chance for escape

All at the same time! It was a miracle. I was driving, so they had no choice.

I ignored the protests as I pulled into the parking lot of Fridays. We had a lovely lunch. Everyone was laughing with each other and having a great time. I guess deep down they understood it was important to me, and they were on their best behavior. I wish I had taken a picture.

My son has returned

Now that summer is over, he is back. I couldn’t be more thrilled. He’s still my baby even if he’s taller than me now. He’s a fantastic, brilliant, funny kid, and I couldn’t be prouder of him. I guess that is why he gets away with the vampire hours.

The cape hangs in the back of the closet…until next summer.

Summer’s side effects


I’m a terrible speller

Thank goodness for the spell checker which ranks in my top five favorite inventions alongside:

  • refrigerated cookie dough
  • microwave
  • hair dye

An interesting unrelated observation: The creation of SPANX is directly related to the invention of refrigerated cookie dough.

On the other hand, my daughter is a brilliant speller. She easily makes a 100% on every spelling test, and I’m jealous of her natural ability to spell.

The lunch list

I asked the two older kids to write down what they wanted in their lunch boxes since school starts Tuesday.

My son came to tell me his because he is too lazy to find a pencil. “Peanut butter and jelly sandwich, water, and a banana.” Easy enough.

I found my daughter’s list, written in florescent pink crayon, on my desk. Keep in mind, she’s going into 7th grade and is an honors student. Reading over the list, I was horrified to discover her brain had rotted during summer vacation.

  • Kool-aid
  • PB&J sandwhich
  • fruit (watermelon or somethin)
  • chips (barbique chipz)
  • dessert – anything

Yikes! I feel horrible for the teachers this week as they attempt to remold students’ mushy brains.

An appropriate gift

Rather than send in the stereotypical red apple for the teacher, I’ve opted for the more appropriate gift of wine.

Shoe shopping fun with my son

Tennis shoes

He needs shoes soon

Is there anything more painful and useless than trying to talk a teenage boy into going shopping with you? Unless, of course, it is to pick up the newest, greatest game on release day.

I gave up a long time ago. He describes what he wants, and I go get it. He isn’t very picky so he never complains about my choices. However, he is a big boy at six feet tall, and shoe shopping requires you actually try on the shoe.

Last year…

I’m dreading the shoe shopping ordeal thanks to last year’s experience.

I announced we were taking a quick trip to the store to get shoes. I tried to sell my idea by claiming we could be back within an hour and would even splurge for a refreshing smoothie.

In a desperate attempt to avoid accompanying me on this venture, he came up with a solution.

Leaning in his doorway, keys in hand, I asked if he was ready to go. “Yep,” he replied while handing me a tracing of his foot. “Get the same thing I have now in white.”

Not in the mood to argue, I painstakingly cut out the foot. This is my artistically-challenged child, so the tracing was a bit off. The shape resembled a potato, so I created toes to make it more realistic-looking.

The paper foot and I headed to the store. This trip had all the excitement of shopping with a cardboard cut-out of my child. The conversation in the car was lacking, but there were no complaints about the music playing.

Trying on shoes

Browsing through the shoe department I was approached by an athletic, young salesman who asked what I was looking for. “My son needs new shoes,” I replied. He grabbed the measuring tool and looked around, assuming my son was wandering around the department somewhere.

I removed the foot from my purse, unfolded it, and lay it on the measuring device. “Do you think that is a size 12 or 12.5? He’s definitely a wide.”

“I want to try on a size 12.5 in this shoe,” I said as I held up the sneaker I had selected.

He looked shocked and confused as he politely advised, “Ma’am, that isn’t going to work.”

“Just let me see if I can fit the foot in it. Humor me.”

He returned with a box of shoes and a strange, amused look on his face. I imagine this was going to make for some great conversation in the break room later.

I proceeded with trying to fit the paper foot in the shoe. As shocking as this may seem, it didn’t work very well. I couldn’t tell if the toes were crumpled at the end. Since the foot couldn’t argue that it didn’t like the blue stripe, I bought them and hoped for the best.

This year

I’m not accepting paper feet in place of a live person again. This year he is going with me, we’re going to have a lovely experience, and he will enjoy it whether he wants to or not.

That is…unless he bribes the girls into molding his foot to make a paper mache version.

I don’t care if it is a masterpiece that is painted and glitter-covered. I refuse to take that to the store!