About the Duds…

I was sitting outside with four of my 6th grade students – all girls. Tomorrow is Spring Picture Day and students don’t have to wear their uniform of red/white/blue polo shirt and tan pants. It’s a rare “Free Dress Day” for them.

“It’s Free Dress Day tomorrow!” One hollered.

“I’m not wearing a dress though, even though it’s picture day,” sighed another.

“Yeah, wearing a dress on Free Dress Day is a total waste!”

The Girl and the Dress

My 14 year old daughter and I have been arguing. A lot. All this year.

She’s suddenly become that typical teenager who argues, whines and criticizes her mother for everything (“Why did you wear that, mom?”) while rolling her eyes.  I can live with this (sort of), but what has really gotten to me is how she takes everything for granted. She constantly asks to eat out. She wants new clothes. But when she changes out of them, they lay crumpled in the corner on in her bed. I have had family and friends look at me sideways as if to say You’re going to let her get away with that?   But I have had to choose my battles. Homework, violin practice, cleaning her room, getting out of the house at a decent time in the mornings – we have quarreled many times.

I have to admit, many afternoons, I am tired and she wears me out and I purchase food as snack or dinner, when I’d really rather not. I’m tired from working all day (90 kids/day) and I don’t want to cook that badly, either.

But today, when she asked me when we could buy her ANOTHER dress for a SECOND dance at school, I put my foot down.

“Josie, I’m not buying another dress. You have a savings account and you can use that money.”

“But mom! I need another dress that I can wear for the next recital and audition. I’d wear the new dress several times.” (whines)

“You have plenty of dresses. You CAN buy a new dress, you just have to pay for it and you have money.”

She thought and sulked for awhile in her room. Her younger sister has more money in savings and Josie has become competitive lately. She never used to care, but she has stopped withdrawing from it in recent months. The girls get cash gifts from grandparents and it goes into these accounts.

“I’m going to wash the baseboards to make some extra money,” she said.

I smiled. Inwardly.

Willey helped her get a bucket and rags. On her hands and knees, she started cleaning. I had to look away. I felt a little like the wicked stepmom with Cinderella. At the same time, I felt really good about it.

She washed half the baseboards and then abandoned it. I mentally noted I would not pay her more than $5. She worked for half an hour. That’s half the minimum wage. I refused to pay her guilt or inflated money.

She got on her bed with her cell phone. Half an hour passes.

“Mom, Megan is going to let me borrow one of her dresses.”

“OK. That’s great!”


Cue: “The Dance”