IT began with the skyscraper heels. You know the ones.
They make stilettos look like boring bungalows, towering skyscraper-like above all others, ungainly and powerful. The ones more akin to a small pair of stilts than any sort of sensible footwear your mother would have encouraged.
OK, the ones we probably would have crammed our feet into as well, had they been around a few decades ago.
While shopping to replenish the tween’s summer wardrobe the other day, the 12- “I’m practically 13”- year-old tried on a pair of these skyscrapers, tottering around the store happily admiring herself while casually informing me about “how cheap they are Mum!” She was just as casually informed back that her couple of wobbly laps would probably be as close as she’d get to owning a pair.
She didn’t badger me, she knows when to retreat. We try to avoid sweating the small stuff these days and a pair of skyscraper heels, though monumental in stature, really was small stuff compared with other things on our list of potential things to brawl about.
However, it did trigger me to think it was probably time I updated my parenting book the one I write as I go along, joining the dots in the hope of getting some sort of reasonable pattern. You see, although she doesn’t really nag, the tween’s not short on requests. And there have been many in the lead-up to her 13th birthday. Her cases mounted for a variety of “essentials” have triggered responses ranging from “maybe”, to “you’ve got to be kidding!” and from “when you’re older” to “not in my lifetime!” However, I realised when I saw her parading around the store that her thrill from these towering heels was completely different to the one she got at age three when she stumbled around around in my shoes. That was all about copying and being like mummy, whereas this was all about creating an identity and being as far away from looking like mummy as possible.
So, that day on our shopping trip I did make a few concessions.
It started with introducing some basic black into her wardrobe, (a colour my mother had successfully convinced me was inappropriate for young girls and should be confined to Italians and prostitutes), a couple of pairs of ripped denim shorts, some strappy tops and loose midriff shirts.
She was very happy, believing she’d had a marvellous victory over her fashion-clueless mother.
Until we went out that night.
Dressed in her natty new black jacket and sporting a cute fedora on her head, we went to the theatre. She had the `I feel good’ dance going on and I agreed, she looked fabulous and funky, totally grown up but not way beyond her years. But as we enjoyed a drink together the tween grabbed my arm and pointed “look!”
There, gliding past, was an old schoolmate, 12 years old and wearing those wretched skyscraper heels.
Instantly my new-found status plunged back to that of `mother with no idea’ and I made a mental note for my parenting book. “Every time you make concessions for your child, another parent will make more”. And okay, yes, I admit, I willed Ms Skyscraper to stumble, just a little, to prove my point. But of course she didn’t and probably never would. Not in my lifetime anyway.