Last Wednesday evening, around tea time, my daughter grew about three inches.
Growth spurts are bad news in our house because they inevitably mean the sudden relegation of an entire wardrobe to the charity bag. Then, only when there is one outfit, peering sad and lonely from a rail of empty hangers, do we admit the terrible truth. She needs more clothes.
If I was made of money, I’d only ever shop at Boden, from the comfort of my own sofa, accompanied by music I love and a glass of good champagne, but I should probably pay the bills this month, so we are forced to supplement the Boden buying with that dreaded place – the High Street.
What I hadn’t accounted for was how much more of an ordeal shopping would become now my daughter is about to hit the grand old age of ten. The problem is, she has no idea what JLS stands for, prefers Oliver! to High School Musical and has the audacity to listen to Indigo Girls and Seth Lakeman rather than Hannah Montana or Justin Bieber.
Until we hit the shops, I had no idea how many shades of pink existed in the world. From angelic off-white pink (clearly for girls who never eat ketchup) to the garish colour borrowed from the latest chick-lit best seller.
‘It’s not that I hate pink,’ my daughter informs me in the very first shop we descend upon. ‘It’s just that pink is for pyjamas.’
What about a sensible pair of blue jeans, then? A safe bet, you would think. Yet why do manufacturers impose the proportions of a woman’s size eight on young girls? Hipsters. At this age they do not have the hips to hold them up; ‘Skinny’ jeans. Now, there’s a body shape to desire! Blood circulation to the ankles is just so overrated, darling.
Probably the best of this bilious bunch are certain high street stores who cannot help but to ensure their shop logo glares back at us from the front of every item of clothing (we all know the culprits) If my daughter must be employed as a walking billboard, then is it too much to ask that we are at least offered a free outfit and a contribution to the college fund?
In the final shop, a girl, probably about seven, clonks past trying on a pair of heels and I grow all misty eyed over an off the shoulder number, with the word BABE spelled out in diamanté studs. Oh, the top has a point. It was surely only last week my bundle of joy stared up from my arms, cushioned by the promise of a whole drawer’s worth of teddy bear rompers to chose from … Yet, something tells me this isn’t what the top means, not what it means at all.
A laugh from beside me. ‘Mum, I’ve found something!’
She yanks a top from the rail and holds it up; ‘I HEART SHOPPING!’ the top screams.
You see, if not following the crowd has taught her anything, it has certainly taught her irony.
Tonight, when she is asleep, I’ll sneak up to her room to steal her sole trusty outfit from the floor; a good old Amy Ray youth t-shirt and a pair of currently unavailable M&S magic jeans that grow with her. I’ll pop them in the washing machine and if I hang them on the radiator they will dry by the time she gets in from school tomorrow.
And by the way, I’ve decided I prefer laundry to shopping any day.
Amanda Dixie works in a library and is currently studying for an MA in Creative Writing. She lives in Glastonbury and dreams of one day owning a pair of goats. She tweets at @MrsPelephant.