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Clothing and the outbreak of puberty

11 - 25 -04

By Kimberly Campbell

Signs of a strange phenomenon have began appearing in my home. Puberty. The next 8 years, until my 10 year old becomes 18, can’t pass by fast enough. Next to the "terrible twos", this is the time I have looked forward to with the least excitement.

A prime example of this puberty phase presented itself when we were shopping for school clothes and shoes. These days, unless I want my 10 year old looking like Brittney Spears, there is little hope of finding appropriate, affordable clothing that fit her. All the "appropriate" and "cute" stuff is too small. And the shoes! My gosh, the things they expect children to wear these days! There is practically nothing designed for a child in women’s sized shoes. She is a size 6-1/2 to a 7. Children’s sizes stop at about a 4-1/2. Next Stop:The women’s department. This means my choice of shoes for a 10 year old girl are high-healed, plat-formed, bulky, or street-walker styled shoes. Whatever happened to cute shoes for larger feet? I don’t remember my mom having this kind of trouble when I was 10 (but she says it was the same way then, too).

When will the fashion industry learn that girls do not go from a 6 year old in a size 4 shoe to a 20 year old woman in a size 8 shoe overnight? There is a whole generation gap in there where the children’s stuff is too small and the adult stuff is too mature. And we wonder why our 10 and 12 year olds look 21! How else are they supposed to dress when all that is being offered in their sizes are "women’s" stuff?

And to add insult to injury, with the ever-persistent puberty monster trying to rear it’s ugly head in my home, the birds and the bees have now descended upon us. My child is now the quite-embarrassed owner of a tell-all book. She wants to know and is old enough to understand, but won’t ask or talk about it out of embarrassment, so we got a book. After she skimmed through the book, she says "are you sure I am old enough for this?" Too late to second guess now.

Take the Santa Claus incident last Christmas where she adamantly insisted that he was not real and demanded that I admit it. So what am I to think? I think she already knows the truth and wants me to stop trying to push a fairy tale on her. So what do I do? I tell her what she so obviously seemed to know. There is no Santa Claus, at least not in the way she always thought there was. What does she do? Screams and cries that I ruined Christmas for her and why did I tell her there was no Santa Claus because she wanted to believe there was! What's a mother to do?

After all this, it seems to me that the most important lesson for children that is not being taught in the schools is -- "If you don’t want to know the answer, don’t ask the question! " If I didn't have a great appreciation for my father before, let me tell you I have a greater respect now. After all, he raised two daughters and lived to tell about it. Whether I survive raising one daughter remains to be seen.

Since I had my child, my dad tells me that if you can raise just one child to be a well-rounded, respectable adult that contributes to society, you have really done something for this world.


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