I spent yesterday evening at the mall.
Lauren has been feeling a bit left out recently. The problem with having teachers as parents is that no matter what the Teabaggers say teaching is not actually “the best part time job you’ll ever have.” It isn’t even a full time job. It is a job that consumes most of your waking hours, particularly during those weeks when you’re trying to get classes set up, when you have assignments that need to be graded, and when you are trying to revise what didn’t quite work the last time you tried it. Or, in other words, pretty much most of the time.
On the plus side, you generally do have the flexibility to decide which twelve hours of the day you have to be working. Most of what I have to do can be done just as easily if not more easily at 2am as 2pm. This means, for example, I can take an hour and pick the girls up from school in the afternoons, even if it does lead to me working after they go to bed. It all gets done.
So we’re often working in the evenings, is what I’m trying to say here.
Now, this generally does not bother Tabitha much. She’s older, for one thing, and for another she’s always been comfortable doing things on her own. When it’s just the two of us in the house together, we will often go hours without seeing each other.
But Lauren is a people person. She wants to do things with you. She wants you to do things with her. And we want to do things with her, though this can be difficult when your job extends into the evening hours. You have to make it something of a conscious effort, particularly when the siren call of the internet starts up and you (read: “I”) are tempted to get sucked into useless web surfing until bedtime. Something has to give.
Yesterday she and I decided to go spend the gift certificate she received to the Kid Jewelry Store.
Have you been in a KJS recently?
They’re not big, for one thing. The malls usually give them the tiny storefronts, which makes a certain amount of sense since their merchandise and their clientele are, in fact, small.
They’re brightly colored, for another thing. Everything in the store is shiny, sparkly, and/or dyed a brilliant non-pastel shade of something, unless it is black, in which case it is very, very black. Kids are not known for the subtlety of their tastes, and this store knows its target demographic quite well.
And they’re loud. Really loud. Loud with the strains of all the latest boy bands and bubblegum pop hits, the sort of music that girls 10-14 years old gravitate toward. Loud with music that people of my age and gender were never meant to hear. Loud with sounds that make people like me look for lawns to shout at kids to get off of. Loud.
Bottom line, your basic KJS is about two hundred cubic yards of sensory overload and glitter, all of it designed to appeal to girls in their tweens.
I was the only male anywhere near the place. It’s like there is a force field around the entrance that extends halfway out into the mall and around the corner to the candy store. But a man does what needs to be done, and if that means a trip to the KJS with his daughter, then that’s what you do. Respect, dignity, and treating your children well – it’s a Dad Life. So in I went, open-eyed.
My, but they have made great strides in pre-teen jewelry, haven’t they?
Lauren is currently on a panda kick, so she got a few pairs of earrings with panda motifs – including one featuring pandas that had mustaches like 19th-century baseball players, which I found rather odd, or would have found odd except that mustaches are apparently quite stylish now and the KJS featured a wide variety of things with mustaches painted on, enameled on, or – in the case of the hipster glasses – attached to the bottom by little glittery chains, at which point we graduated from “odd” to “bizarre.”
I was also impressed by the creative genius who decided to market Hello Kitty things with Kiss designs. I’ll bet Gene Simmons never saw that one coming back in the day.
Lauren, it must be said, had a marvelous time picking out things. She must have looked at every item in the shop at least three times and she picked out a number of very nice bits of jewelry, as well as a hat and some gloves. She wore the hat and gloves to school today, as well as the Base Ball Panda earrings. She looked good, and she was happy.
Sometimes you just have to make the time, even if it means spending an evening at KJS.
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