Earlier in the week I shared my own back to school shopping memories. When my kids reached school age, I rolled all of my pent-up, fit-in, you are what you wear feelings right on to them. Subtly, of course.
My daughter was up first and to be once again thrust into the back to school shopping frenzy made me giddy. Even as a preschooler, she had a wardrobe most women would envy. Not necessarily designer names, but carefully thought out styles, trendy not gaudy, flattering to her tiny self. Additionally, school could NOT begin without new shoes (3, 4 pairs?), all new school supplies (I loved that teacher supply list!), a new lunchbox and new backpack. No matter that the one from last year was perfectly fine. She went right along with the program, it all became very normal. I recall as a kindergartner, she had a fabulous navy wool coat from Neiman Marcus with matching navy felt hat. It cost far more than any coat I had ever owned. Didn't matter that the recess playground was muddy or that any number of crafty scraps from a kindergarten classroom clung to the coat daily, she looks fabulous. It was like having a real live dress up doll. Years later, she started cosmetology school with a brand new, bright yellow book bag filled with fun supplies and new outfits for school courtesy of mom.
My son, on the other hand, was simply not interested in wardrobe choices. He wouldn't even wear denim for a certain 3 year period. Just give him comfort and the occasional superhero emblazoned on something and he was good to go. "I don't need an new backpack." What??? "I have pencils left from last year." I don't understand. By fifth grade, I thought we were turning this crazy thinking around when he wanted to back-to-school shop with his best friend. Finally! We could be on to a more stylish boy. But he and his friend choose matching outfits. In red. Shorts and shirt, in red, matching. This was not what I had in mind.
My obsession with their clothes lasts today, only finally, I can not act on it. I felt real twinges when I took my back-to-college son to Target for supplies and had to face the back-to-school store displays, as festive and as many as any big holiday. He still opts for comfort and an occasional interesting graphic. My daughter has learned how much it actually costs to maintain this habit and has scaled back her purchases considerably. I can see her getting a little carried away with her son, though. I have a feeling that this cycle is not completely broken yet.