I had a dream.
I dreamed that all the teenagers across the land came to school in real shoes and real clothes. They were clean and neat and they looked and smelled freshly showered. Their eyes were bright and clear and they were grinning ear to ear. They were excited to be here and eager to learn.
Then I woke up. Uh oh.
It was just a dream. Bummer.
You just did the laundry and stacked the clean T-shirts and jeans neatly on the dresser top, but your teenager inevitably wants to wear the only T-shirt that did not make it to the laundry. It's amazing how that happens. How hard is it to ignore the tears and insist on clean? Hard. Very hard.
But you can do it! I know that you can.
I realize it’s only high school, and parents need to choose their battles carefully, but we are still trying to prepare our youngsters for the real world, right? And in the real world, as a clever Tide ad says: "Style is an option. Clean is not."
As a former high school counselor, please allow me to give you some advice.
First and foremost, be a role model. If you believe that dirty flip-flops do not belong in the classroom, then please don’t wear yours out to supper with the family—even to an uber-casual restaurant like Palmer’s Place. And if you think wearing clothing with stains is a no- no? Then, you need to toss that blouse with the salad dressing stain in the garbage right now and make sure your child sees you do it! As you know only too well, no matter how we try to remove them, some stains simply refuse to disappear completely and they leave a tell tale shadow.
Second, remember that YOU make the rules. That's right. You are the parent and you get to say what items are ok and what items are not.
But please, make the rules clear and make them few.
La Grange Style's No-No List
- No dirty clothes or shoes EVER.
- No graphically undesirable T-shirts (as determined by the parent in this house).
- No sweats, pajamas, or ripped jeans.
That's it. No exceptions.
Then I would pray that they did not hide dirty gym shoes or t-shirts with inappropriate messages in their back pack and change once they arrived at school.
As an example, I love this story a mom shared recently:
Teen: Hey Mom. Have you seen my “School Sucks” t-shirt?
Mom: Oh Honey, I’m so sorry. It had a big fat Frappuccino stain on the back so I had to throw it away.
When I asked if that t-shirt really did have a big stain on it, she replied: “I have no idea.”
So, Mom, please take heart and do not give up. I have great hope for this younger generation. I hope that Princess Kate's fashion sense and style will ultimately triumph over Lady Gaga's. I hope that your child's smile will light up a room someday when she/he finally feels that illusive sense of confidence and control as a young adult.
And when you actually get to see that? I hope you are wearing waterproof mascara because you’re going to need it!
Well done, Mom. Very well done.