Not for your blooming, multi-faceted, eight-years-old one day and twenty-eight the next, urban-outfitted, Prada-praying, skinny-jean-clad, pretty-in-punk, missed a shower dirty sweats, preppy-princess-vixen of a daughter (you must let them be them), but for you, the mom, you just can’t go wrong with burlap.
Fourteen and fifteen-year-old girls are a bit like wear-wolves as the full moon is just peeking up over the horizon—big change is afoot; and since their very identity is so radically imploding and reforming, girls this age can be rather territorial about their closet. Of course they may feel free to raid your closet for inspiration, but should they catch you trying to wriggle into one of their million identities the claws come out and they go for the jugular.
Since kids this age are so dramatic, hormonal and potentially mouthy (if not down-right toothy), you do yourself a favor by succumbing to sudden-onset Aunt-Bee syndrome. If you are young enough to have missed out on Mayberry as a gloss on Thornton Wilder’s Our Town, “Aunt Bee” would be any shapeless and desexualized woman of a certain age in a fright-wig. And keep in mind that to fourteen and fifteen-year-olds everyone over thirty is quite old, forty is synonymous with any figure from “history” while there is virtually difference in their minds between fifty and eighty.
When it comes to burlap, if you’re feeling particularly crafty (think Martha Stewart on stewed prunes), get a groady old potato sack (the nice man at the market will give you one if you tell him it’s for an arts and crafts project to help your daughter); just cut two arm-holes and voila—a body-hiding garment that will weave you into the woodwork and put any teen daughter at ease.
The good news is that at sixteen, girls seem to find their sea-leg identities. Hormones start to level out, niceness re-emerges (particularly if you have been an iron-clad and stainless steel bowl for their nasty spillover) like the sun coming up on a werewolfess, the spell is broken and soon you’re having a nice lunch and sharing girl-talk and sweaters once again.
So, maybe today we can all hang-in, dress down and let our kids be the belles of the ball for their Mayfly moments of development, seeing past the burlap we don to the sacred and eternal beauty to be seen in us aging, loving parents, but by each other and not necessarily by our children. Let’s do this, and all that we do, in the conscious service of all our collective children, from the Aspergers kid who needs to wear that same pair of corduroy pants every day for a year to the superhero who can’t leave home without his or her cape at the moment, to the kid who really doesn’t have enough clothes to properly stay warm this winter.