Before I even left the driveway I promised myself a beloved VENTI Vanilla Chai Latte from Starbucks if I survived the afternoon of dreaded torture that awaited me at the end of the journey we were embarking upon.
They are only preteens, at 10 and 12, but already my darling daughters have learned the horrors that the swimsuit shopping ritual brings with it each spring. I figured, wrongly, that shopping for girl suits was a piece of cake compared to facing those foreboding mirrors myself, back one spring. Apparently two girls built very differently means not getting the same suit anymore. We actually were forced to begin trying them on in the store instead of me simply bringing them home and saying, “here’s your suit.”
That year we shopped late, as in (gasp) the beginning of May, (while, may I remind you, in Indiana it was still not near warm enough to wear one yet). We were treated to selections that left me scratching my head what to do. I vowed to myself never to make that insufferable mistake again. A picked over selection means tears, frustration, disappointment, and an entire summer of misery far worse than facing the three evil, full length mirrors attached to the dressing room walls. Finding the perfect suit and having no size needed left on the rack is like entering swimsuit purgatory. A suit that does not fit well, and isn’t the desired one, can mean a summer of confidence stripping that results in tears that last long after the dressing room trauma is over.
With my two growing girls, they not only are different sizes and figures, they are complete opposites in style and taste. Preteens and Jr Highers, apparently, also need suits that aren’t babyish, yet must still meet Dad’s required modesty standards. This was a source of great upheaval and discussion on the trip to the store. I told them to get used to it – this insanity never gets easier.
Do you have any idea how hard it is to find a suit that is not too big, but not too small, is not little girlish while still being modest? It’s enough to drive the sanest mind mad! Places, like Abercrombie, who target girls my daughters’ ages with padded bikinis and low-rise skimpy offerings are NOT helping. They grow fast enough as it is! They don’t need to be pushed into looking older than they do already. Offer selections of modest, one piece suits or tankinis that still are cute and colorful, allow a full range of motion and active playtime in the water without worrying about coming up from a dunk in the pool with a wardrobe malfunction. PLEASE!
The girls took armfuls of choices into the dressing rooms and I sat in the middle of the two rooms on a stool, head in my hands, fearing the worst. Please-o-please find at least one decent choice at this store. My imaginings ran the full gamut of how many stores we’d have to run to in order to find the one suit that was flattering yet mature enough to fit each girl. It’s the stuff of nightmares. Compare this to the ease with which you deal with boy shopping. Just moments ago I walked past a rack of trunks, grabbed a pair that were a size bigger than last year and presto – my son’s shopping was finished! He wasn’t even with me AND I knew they’d fit without even trying them on.
My anxious ponderings were stilled when both doors to the dressing rooms flew open and BOTH girls had beaming smiles! Could it be true? The first try got a suit that was in the running? YES! There IS a God!
They went on to try dozens of suits. It was time consuming, and stressful, but we were getting somewhere. As cliché as it sounds, we left the store with the first suits they tried on.
In celebration, I not only bought myself the afore mentioned Chai, but I allowed the girls to get their favorite as well… a hot cocoa for each, with whipped cream and chocolate drizzle. You see, it was a mere 39 degrees outside while we were shopping for these wretched suits, and we needed to warm up our freezy fingers while dodging snowflakes in the parking lot. But the task was done, and we’d WON this round again this year!
Published in the May/June 2011 issue of Parenting in Fort Wayne Magazine