Clarissa Johal: In the Underwear Aisle

Thursday, May 21, 2009

In the Underwear Aisle

December 25, 2004

It was Christmas Eve, and I decided to nip off to Target to grab some last minute stocking stuffers. I made a completely practical "mom" decision and decided to get my girls...some underwear.
It seemed like a good idea at the time.
Underwear aisle; 10,000 choices, 10,000 sizes, styles and colors. I was overwhelmed by the colors and bright, shiny packaging. I started going for a package of "Care Bears," then realized my oldest was going on 5-years-old. Would she think that I thought she was a baby? Care Bears were kind of for little kids--and she was all grown up now at almost 5-years-old. Dora? No, she's sooo last year, Spongebob? No, my 3-year-old would be jealous, maybe I would get those for her. I put back the innocuous and smiling Care Bears and picked up a pack of "Bratz" undies.
My daughter’s fascination with them was purely because I thought they sent the wrong message to little girls. They smirked back at me from the underwear's plastic packaging, mocking me with their pouting lips and layers of blue eyeshadow. If I bought her these, would my daughter think I now condoned "Bratz" dolls? Would she grow up to wear too-tight jeans, cut-off shirts and too much makeup, parading a long line of Biffs and Jakes through my house? Would I wonder where I went wrong? Would she be so jazzed by her new Bratz undies that she'd want to show them off to all the kids in Kindergarten?
At this thought, I threw the pack of Bratz undies back on the shelf because I swore they had exploded into flames.
Unable to make a decision, my mind wandered and I started thinking about my almost 5-year-old beginning Kindergarten next year. And I proceeded to get completely choked up.
In the underwear aisle.
As I tried to get myself together, another mom walked by and without even looking, plucked a pack of underwear from the display and threw them into her cart.
"You okay?" she asked me.
"My little girl is starting Kindergarten next year and I can't decide on what underwear to get her," I managed to mumble.
She gave me a pat on the back, "It's gonna be okay, honey. They all gotta start sometime. Have a Merry Christmas."
I watched this other mom enviously as she meandered over to the boy's underwear aisle and plucked another pack (again, without even looking) off the display, tossing them into her cart.
She must just have too many kids to care.
So, back to my indecision. There were some cute undies with Scottie, she’d see the dogs and want a puppy, no good. Plus, they're bikini...bikini? Can 4-year-olds wear bikini underwear? My mom didn't let me get bikini underwear until I was 13, she said it would make my hips grow funny. I started to feel my face grow warm as I realized the ridiculousness of that. I'm going to defy my mother and get these bikini undies for my child! Okay wait...I wondered if they'd be comfortable for a 4-year-old? Maybe not.
Glancing at my watch, I saw that no less than 20 minutes had ticked by and I still hadn't made a decision.
Feeling like a loser, I decided that my almost 5-year-old probably wouldn't want boring underwear in her stocking anyways. What was I thinking? What a dumb idea.
Maybe some cool socks!
I turned around with a triumphant smile on my face...until I saw all the choices of socks on display.

My smile faded and I felt like I was going to have a nervous breakdown...

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