On Monday, J was invited to share some frozen yogurt with friends, and I was confronted with a series of judgment calls. You know, small-scale judgment calls. Incidentally, just writing the first sentence I was at war against my nature, because I’m generally a very good speller, but I always, always, always want to spell judgment wrong: judgement. Honestly, I think that I’m right and everyone else is wrong, because the whole point of having the silent “e” in judge is to make the “g” soft, and we don’t want to pronounce “judgment” like jud-guh-ment, do we? No, of course we don’t. So I still think that we should all spell it my way, but I’m bowing to societal pressure. A-freakin’-gain. And thus simply by referring to judgment I am exhibiting questionable judgment. But I digress.
Cute little J got dressed in her very special outfit for this get-together. Over the years I’ve noticed that each daughter will have her go-to favorite power outfit among the casual clothes. There’s that favorite pair of jeans, that favorite t-shirt, and I almost always find the choice baffling. We tend to have too many clothes. There’s a constant hand-me-down stream and the girls are loathe to part with anything, even something that they never, ever wear. It’s pretty annoying. But what’s even more annoying is that often, my favorites are the ones that are never worn. Anyway, J’s hands-down favorite outfit of the moment is a pair of chartreuse jeans from her once-favorite store Ruum (RIP) and a heathered pink shirt. Okay. If you’re forgetting what color chartreuse, click the link, and then envision that coupled with dusky pink. It’s two adorable pieces of clothing that should never, ever, ever be worn together. And yet she does it, again and again. When it first happened, I tried to gently steer J toward the black top that went just smashingly with chartreuse. You know, the top that we bought to go with the jeans. But I’ve given up. You can’t say to a kid who’s feeling like she looks like a million bucks that this color combination shouldn’t happen. And so, I’d say for at least a year now, I just hold my tongue and wait patiently for her to grow out of the damn outfit and move on to something new. But it takes considerable forbearance.
So she’s dressed and ready, and we leave about half an hour early because we want to pick up a birthday treat. The invitation stipulated no gifts, but once again, that’s a judgment call. I’ve gone to parties empty-handed where the hosts said no gifts only to see a table full of them. And yet it seems rude to ignore the stipulation completely. So my policy has been to settle on a token gift: a flower, a balloon, some candy, whatever. J had an idea for a token gift, and we went to the store where she’d seen them, and . . . crap, nothing. So we headed to store number two where, after much deliberation and stress, J settled on a balloon and a box of M & Ms. Phew. That was a tough one. Then, as we approached the gathering, J went into full-on panic mode. “The invitation said absolutely no gifts!” she whispered urgently. She refused to move forward, pleading with me to make our token items disappear. “Dude, no one’s going to get angry with you for bringing a balloon, I swear,” I said. “It’s no big deal.” But she was paralyzed, and I agreed to take and hide the M & Ms while she agreed that the balloon might be acceptable. And then we walked in, and there was a shriek of balloon delight even as another guest walked in, empty-handed. Ugh. It’s pretty much impossible to game that one correctly.
In the middle of checking out with our token gifts and trying not to allow a balloon to soar up into the ceiling, we were lined up behind a very friendly old man who decided to chat us up. And apropos of nothing, he explained that back when he was a teacher, he’d line up all of the boys and then give them his sage advice: don’t ask the girls first–just kiss ’em! Okaaaay. I smiled encouragingly and pretended to be charmed by him countermanding what I hope is the rising cultural norm that we should be teaching boys that they should obtain consent as part of a developmentally-appropriate method to combat rape culture. But I kept smiling because he was so friendly, and also, he was very, very old. And eventually, it seemed pretty clear that he had some dementia. Plus he redeemed himself a bit by highly recommending The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, which I have not read, but which sounds like it’s got a serious girl power theme. So we’re putting it on the list.
Maybe we can read it while eating M & Ms.