‘Twas the night before school started, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. I was in my pajamas, all snug in my bed, under the covers, my book being read. When, what to my wondering eyes should appear, but my firstborn, my son, Mr. Noah, oh dear.
• • •
Well, the bit about the mouse was true, anyhow (our cat saw to that, the week before), and I really was in my pajamas, all snug in my bed. But the Bears were getting hammered on TV downstairs, the night before the first day of school, last year, so no; it wasn’t exactly quiet in the DuBose household. And when Noah flopped down beside me and announced that he had “nothing” to wear the next day – nothing he really liked, that is – I knew my night was just beginning.
I had no one to blame but myself. Holly managed to commandeer a back-to-school shopping trip a month earlier, after sharing with me her vision of her first-day-of-school-outfit (which apparently included a yellow shirt – which then stood at the ready, along with socks and accessories, collecting dust for a month), but I figured that Noah, my then eighth-grader, was over the need to have anything brand-new for his first day. I figured wrong. In my defense, it was still t-shirt weather, after all, and we had picked up a few things over the summer. New sneakers, new cleats and even a few new T’s. But they weren’t first-day-of-school worthy, apparently.
But it was 9:15 p.m. and I was wiped. I knew Kohl’s closed at ten, though, and that Noah wouldn’t rest until this was resolved, so off we went. I did what I usually do when faced with the absurd. I hummed the tune to ‘Mission Impossible’ as I backed the car out of the driveway and hoped for the best. We struck out at Kohl’s, but Target came through, much to our mutual surprise. Noah finally settled on something at 9:58 p.m., mere moments before the store closed, so we sprinted for the registers, giggling as we skidded into line (good thing he was still wearing those old sneakers, though – the worn treads made for easier skidding). I knew my adrenaline would race for hours afterward, keeping sleep at bay until the wee hours of the morning, but it was worth it. ‘Mission’ accomplished, indeed.
• • •
I really tried to avoid a night-before-school fashion-crisis run this year. Really, I did. We visited several stores, but, in spite of our best efforts, I found myself numbly wandering around Kohl’s the night before school began, again. This time, with Holly.
But we’d already been there, just last week, when I witnessed the trying-on of dozens of pairs of jeans. That trip yielded nothing but socks. (So anticlimactic to arrive at the register and have to reach deep into that trademark black Kohl’s shopping cart for that lonely bundle of socks. Really?) But at Target, later that day, we scored when one pair of jeans actually made the cut. So many fit her beautifully, but it’s not my opinion that matters. Holly’s eleven, now. I get it. We become more discerning about the style we wish to project as we approach adolescence. So I kept my mouth shut and took deep, cleansing breaths. We hit up a bunch of other stores a few days later, finding great sneakers and a cool sweatshirt, but still, nothing first-day-of middle-school worthy, hence the last-call at Kohl’s. But this time, what she found there suited her. Hallelujah!
• • •
“Now I feel confident,” she said, an hour later, as she laid out her new outfit and finally climbed into bed. Yes! I did an invisible fist-pump. That is, after all, the whole point.