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Shopping with My Daughter

May 8, 2009 | by Emuna Braverman

God has a sense of humor. Why else would He give seven daughters to a woman who hates to go shopping?

I'm dreading this Sunday. Not for the usual reasons of too many errands and too much mess. But because I promised to take my daughter shopping.

I am living proof that God has a sense of humor. Otherwise why would He have given seven daughters to a woman who has never used a blow dryer or curling iron, bought her first mascara at age 25 and worst of all, hates to go shopping?

I actually got a break during the adolescent years where my taste was considered atrocious and I could send them without me. But as they get older, my taste seems to improve (shades of Mark Twain) and they beg me to come. I've resisted as long as possible but I'm losing the power to delay.

Some women might not consider the act of taking their daughters to the mall a true kindness with no benefit to the giver whatsoever, but it often feels that way to me. (I don't think splitting headaches are considered a benefit although they are certainly a side effect)

It's not that I don't like nice things; I just don't like the experience of getting them. I've become an old fogey who wants the stores to "turn down that awful music" and I find malls to be an assault on my senses, including my aesthetic one. I suppose if I could sit in a comfortable chair, latte in hand, as the helpful staff in the store (now we're really veering into fantasy) bring us reasonable options, it would be bearable.

But the sensory shock of all the items "coming at me," combined with the impossibility of finding something suits my daughter's tastes and "isn't too long or too low or too tight or too expensive" can be overwhelming. (Can't we have the same bonding experience if we shop online together?!)

I insist that she turn off her phone (since I have the credit card, she obeys) and we spend hours just the two of us.

After seemingly endless hours of traipsing from store to store, it is not infrequent that my daughter (whichever one it is -- this is a gender problem and not specific to any child) will not have found anything to her liking. She'll be depressed and discouraged, claiming she "doesn't have anything to wear," even though I can't squish one more item into her closet.

But I have struggled to find the one redeeming feature of these shopping expeditions: It is an opportunity (believe it or not) to have quality private time with my daughter. I insist that she turn off her phone (since I have the credit card, she obeys) and we spend hours just the two of us. Since shopping doesn't require much (any?) intellectual effort, our minds are free to roam and our discussions are important and meaningful. It's time for us to discuss issues and concerns that may sometimes be hard to raise in the harried and hectic home environment.

We may not always come back with a new outfit, but we do come home with new understanding and a renewed relationship (and a desire to get into my pajamas and into bed as quickly as possible). So I take back what I said. I am looking forward to Sunday. But if we don't find anything, I am not going to another mall next week...

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