Monday, November 02, 2009

Throwing up and Hard Parenting

During the transition of finding an administrative job, I was able to land a temporary job at a locally owned Halloween store. Halloween has never been a favorite holiday of mine.I wasn't always allowed to celebrate it so although we let our kids dress up and go out for candy, I could honestly take it or leave it. To even make things worse, when asked in the interview what my favorite Halloween movie was, my only response I could give was "Its the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown".

I think the owner did well to hide his smirk!

While working at the store, I was able to make a lot of observations about people. It was always interesting to see what kind of costumes individuals would ask for. Sometimes, it was very hard not to laugh. The best was the very large man who wanted to know if we had a Little Bo Peep costume that would fit him! Not a visual I wanted! One older gentleman came in looking for a Darth Vader costume. He was like a little kid in a candy store and I couldn't help but get sentimental as he told me about his collection of Star Wars memorabilia and how his boys always like Star Wars when they were little. Sometimes, it was the older women who surprised me. Some wanted to be clowns, some tried on costumes that no decent woman should wear in public and yet others were looking for blood and cleavers! After a while, nothing seemed to faze me. (Well, maybe the stripper buying shoes did throw me a curve ball...)

The most influential observation that I made, was the dynamic of parents and their daughters. Many of the costumes for women in our store were very "sexy". I had young girls grabbing those costumes to try on and it made my heart sink every time. My only saving grace was that they would usually ask my opinion and I would always try to steer them to a more conservative outfit. One day, a mother and her two teen daughters came in. I caught them as they were just going into the fitting room and when I saw that the younger daughter had picked up some of "those" costumes, I volunteered getting some from the teen section instead. The mother's first reaction was to put off my suggestion and tell me "matter of factly" that her daughter was large busted and would not fit in them anyway. Her daughter proceeded to model costume after costume which seemed to get increasingly worse. As I watched her daughter come out in a "boxer" costume which consisted of a bra top, low, short skirt and a robe, I finally could not resist anymore and asked,

"How old is your daughter?"

She quickly answered "eleven".


I could only sputter out something about having a twelve year old that was not "curvy" yet. Inside, I wanted to throw up.

The mom continued to watch her young, eleven year old show off her "assets" in costume after costume and ask, "Which one do you like best, Sweetie?"
I was only relieved a little bit when she walked out with one of the lesser "showy" costumes. I said a silent prayer for that young girl.

About a week later, a mother, father, and three daughters came in. The oldest daughter looked about eighteen so it didn't surprise me that she was also drawn to the more "adult" costumes. She finally settled on a Pirate dress that for the most part covered everything. It was a bit short but nothing that some dark tights couldn't fix. Her father didn't even get a full glance at her before he firmly said, "Absolutely not!".

I wanted to hug him.

It wasn't that the costume was "bad", it was that he felt that his daughter needed to be held to higher standards. She was a precious jewel and he wanted to protect her. I was so jubilant even as she pouted for a short moment.

It was then that I realized how thankful I am for the dad I have. I used to get so frustrated with him when he would rant about two piece bathing suits being like "bras and underwear". But later, I realized that he was not trying to be strict for the purpose of ruining my life, it was to simply protect me.

My heart goes out to the thousands and thousands of young eleven, twelve and eighteen year old young women who don't have a father or mother who will hold them to higher standards. "Bravo" to the moms who teach their daughters that they need to protect what is precious and to the dads who make their teenager girls change their clothes when they come down in that really short skirt. We live in a society that too often teaches young women that they are only valuable when they show off "what they have". What a lie they live with. I am so thankful that our daughter has a natural desire to be conservative. Since she was very little we have had talks about being appropriate and not showing things that should not be seen. I know that means different things to different people, but I think if we as parents learn to address those issues early on, we can set something into motion that hopefully our daughters will take with them as they begin to make those decisions on their own.

I know the clothing battle period is only beginning between Hannah and I, but I am ready to stand up and be the "strict, mean mom" if necessary. I know her dad is even MORE willing! I pray that I won't have to fight too many battles, but I will face a thousand if it means my daughter will learn to protect the precious jewel she is. In the meantime, I will be praying for those girls who will have to learn that lesson on their own.