Lack of communication a/k/a shopping with a teenager

Earlier this week, Zoe and I ventured out for some school shopping. If you can call what we did shopping. Walking into a store and immediately turning around and walking out because a certain fourteen year old took all of one second to declare there was absolutely nothing in there that she liked so C’MON MOM, LET’S GO ALREADY … is this shopping? If so, we shopped 47 times that day.

I remember those days when I would go out shopping for her by myself, pick out all sorts of cute and adorable outfits, bring them home and have her face light up with excitement as she’d rip through the bags and ooooh and ahhhhh over everything and proclaim every outfit as MY MOST FAVORITEST OF THEM ALL and then she’d fling herself at me and hug me and tell me I was the BEST MOM EVER.

Zoe hasn’t called me the best at anything since 2004 and the only thing she has flung lately has been her sister into the pool and her clothes onto the floor. I’ve given up trying to buy her anything on my own because apparently, even though I gave birth to her and fed her and burped her and changed her and molded her young mind and shaped her personality, I do not know anything about her, least of all her taste in clothes and accessories.

Even when she picks out her own stuff, there’s no guarantee she’s going to like it for longer than it takes to get it home. Like the silver sequined purse she wanted last year, the one I hated on sight because it looked like the sixties had thrown up all over it but she just had to have, PLEASE MOM, IT’S GORGEOUS, I LOVE IT, PLEASE MOM, PLEASE!

Are we talking about the purse that everyone in our house saw Zoe carry to school for months on end but according to Zoe, was used once and only once and then only as a joke? The same purse that now houses all of Helena’s Littlest Pet Shop figurines? The one that Helena took to the mall two weeks ago because she wanted to be a big girl and Zoe refused to walk with her because the purse was so hideous and she didn’t want to be hideous by association?

Yes, that would be the one.

Zoe loves to shop. I hate to shop. If it meant the difference between starving to death and a knock off Coach purse, Zoe would opt for the bag and hope for coordinating shoes in Heaven. Me? Nothing is getting between me and food. That’s just a given.

Zoe has become a shopaholic and I have become a 5’2″ walking MasterCard with poor posture and astigmatism.


Zoe: Mom, I need to go shopping.

Me: What? Why? What do you mean? Didn’t we just go shopping?

Zoe: That was a year ago, Mom.

Me: Are you sure?  I don’t think so. It was yesterday. Look, my eye is still twitching.

Zoe: Mom, you always look like that.

Me: Don’t be smart. Count the creases in my forehead, Zoe. There’s one for every school shopping trip since you turned ten. See this one here? (pointing to my head) That’s for school year 2008-09, I’m sure of it.

Zoe: No, Mom. That’s the one from last year, when we bought ten pairs of jeans and you got all confused about low rise and ultra low rise and mid rise and boot cut and flair and straight cut.

Me: Is that when I yelled at the manager?

Zoe: No, that was when you cried in the middle of Staples when you found out my graphing calculator was $100 and then you yelled at the manager saying something about how, when you went to school, you weren’t allowed to even have a calculator and who did he think was, charging that much for contraband?

Me: My God, was that a year ago? Time flies blah blah blah, huh?

Zoe: So, can we go?

Me:  What’s wrong with the stuff you have?

Zoe: It’s too short, it’s too uncomfortable, it’s too faded, it’s too worn out.

Me: So am I.


Later, while in the throes of shopping, our conversations deteriorate at an alarming rate. Case in point:


Me: Oh Zoe! I love these!

Zoe: Ugh, no.

Me: OK. Ooooh, look at these!

Zoe: Mom! Those are ugly!

Me: Well, how about these then? They’re pretty cute.

Zoe: Just forget it, there’s nothing here I like.

Me: Wait! Look at this one!

Zoe: I’m leaving.


Me: These are nice!

Zoe: Not.

Me: Hey, these look like they’ll fit.

Zoe: Oh my gosh, Mom! NO.

Me: This one looks comfortable.

Zoe: Ew.

Me: This one?

Zoe: I’m leaving.


Zoe: This one, and this one, and this one.

Me: Those look exactly like what you already have.

Zoe: How can you say that? They’re totally different!

Me: Are we looking at the same things? How are they different?

Zoe: You always do this! You hate everything I like!

Me: I didn’t say I hated them! I just said that you’ve got those exact clothes laying on your bedroom floor. How about getting something that will look nice thrown under your bed or on your doorknob or tossed over your curtain rod? Mix it up a little?

Zoe: I’m leaving.


Me: What about …

Zoe: Ugh.

Me: These …

Zoe: Blech.

Me: How about …

Zoe: No.


Zoe: Mom! I said no!

Me: But …

Zoe: I’m leaving.


Zoe: These are nice. Mom? Mom? Did you hear me?

Me: No. I am ignoring you.

Zoe: Why?

Me: Because.

Zoe: Do you like these?

Me: Honestly? No. I do not like them.

Zoe: I’ll get the blue one and the brown one.

Me: I’m leaving.


Zoe (whispering): I need underwear.

Me (loudly): What? You need underwear?

Zoe (frantic): Shhhhhh!

Me (even louder): Did you say you need underwear?

Zoe (freaking out): OK! OK! I’m sorry! I’m sorry!  Can we just buy some please?

Me: Sorry for what, exactly?

Zoe: I’m sorry for rolling my eyes at you, I’m sorry for stomping out of Old Navy, I’m sorry for not listening ot you, I’m sorry for being grumpy. I think that’s it, isn’t it?

Me: You forgot “I’m sorry for slamming a dressing room door in your face, I’m sorry for hating everything that you like, I’m sorry for putting you through sixty hours of labor only to act as if I don’t know you a mere fourteen years later.”

Zoe: OK. I’m sorry for that.

Me: Fine. Let’s get you some undies.

Zoe: MOM! Don’t use that word, it’s gross. They’re right over there. I’ll just wait here.

Me: What do you mean, you’ll just wait here? Do you need underwear or not?

Zoe: Yes! But you can get them. I can’t. What if someone sees me?

Me: I’m sure they’re wearing underwear too, Zoe. And if they’re not, I don’t want you hanging around them.

Zoe: Mom! Stop! Can’t you just get them? What’s the big deal?

Me: And how am I supposed to know what you like? Smoke signals?

Zoe: Just get me anything! If I don’t like them, you can return them.

Me: Excuse me? Get over yourself. I do not live to return items. Returning items ranks right up there with a barium enema. If you want underwear, you are going to pick them out and actually hold them. Now, here we are. See? Not so bad, is it? How about these? Zoe? Zoe?

Ring. Ring. Ring.

Me: Hello?

Zoe (whispering): What kind do they have?

Me (whispering): Where are you?

Zoe (whispering): Over by shoes.

Me (no longer whispering): Zoe, I do not have time for this. Get over here right now. You are being ridiculous.

Zoe (still whispering with an attitude): NO! MOM! C’mon! Just get me the underwear!

Me (yelling across the store): Zoe, do you want hipsters? They also have briefs and bikinis! And solids and prints! They’ve got all sorts of styles! HEY, HERE ARE SOME THAT LOOK EXACTLY LIKE WHAT YOU HAVE ON! Can you see them? Over here, Zoe! I’m holding them up way up high so you can see them! Can you see them? ARE THESE THE ONES YOU WANT?



Me: So, do you have everything you need?


Me: Zoe, you have to talk to me sometime. You can’t stay mad at me forever. I really think that one day, you are going to look back at this and laugh.


Me: Or not.


Me: OK then. Let’s go home. I need to iron my forehead and get ready for next year.

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39 thoughts on “Lack of communication a/k/a shopping with a teenager”

  1. Avatar
    Carmen (Australia)

    Hallo my Dear,

    I live in Perth Western Australia. My origin is German.
    Your humour makes me cringe. It’s soooo very close to home.Sometimes I don’t know wether to laugh or cry. Wait until kids grow older. Will only get more crazy (and you will of course also grow older but much weaker, much much weaker). The turning point will be MENOPAUSE! Can’t find spellcheck, sorry!
    Take care

  2. Avatar

    OMG at this moment I am thankful I have 2 boys… two little boys, who are 5 and 6 and don’t care and think cute trunk undies with goofy characters on them are cool… but then they also think pulling their trunks up under their armpits is way cool too so look what I am working with.

  3. Avatar

    Another reason I’m glad I have boys. Although instead of underwear I would’ve been holding up bras and talking loudly. Much more embarrassing whether she needed them or not. And I hate to say it, but I always ignored my mom when we went shopping. Even for jeans. My mother had this bad habit of ending up 8 racks away and then YELLING across the store at me. I’d just look at other people like I had no idea who the crazy woman was.

  4. Avatar

    *Snork!* Do we have the same daughter? Mine is 18, but according to her it is doubtful that I have *ever* possessed a smidgen of fashion sense.

  5. Avatar

    Fortunately, my 11 year old daughter has uniforms. Whoo-Hoo!! Otherwise, I’m sure my shopping experience with her would be MUCH like yours.
    Today I am shopping with my Tween, a boy. He’s so easy to please. Yessss!

  6. Avatar

    Oh you are so right on target. I have 2 girls – 17 and 15. I WILL NOT go shopping with either of them anymore. I get too angry at them being embarrased by/ignoring me- the person that is funding their shopping spree. I give them some money and send them out together, with refusal rights on whatever they bring home. When they have a finite amount of $$ in their hands, they actually pay attention to price and actually maybe look at the dreaded “sale” items. I stay home, fix a snack and a glass of wine and put my feet up and enjoy some blessed quiet time with a good book! And we are all happy for a brief shining moment in time.

  7. Avatar

    Oh goodness! Maybe shopping with a 4-year-old, a 2-1/2-year-old and a 5-month old isn’t so tough after all. 🙂 At least the teenaged attitude is outgrown eventually!

  8. Avatar

    I can totally relate to this! I have a 13-yr. old girl and 2 boys, ages: 8 & 6. The boys are so much easier to shop with. I am not giving my daughter an allowance to buy her own clothes (after she does the dishes, put away some laundry and clean her room:)

    Thanks for the laughs!

  9. Avatar

    Just stopping by to say hi to a fellow SITS sister!
    Love this post, very funny, bring back memories of shopping as a teen with my mom.

  10. Avatar

    This is SO EXACTLY what my 15yo is like. It cracks me up! I showed her. She doesn’t find it funny. How can that be?!!! 😉

  11. Avatar

    My first thought right after finding your blog was that your writing is in the same vein as Erma Bombeck. I used to love reading her. Imagine my surprise to find her books are in your favorites. Been there, done that, with the shopping trips with a teen. Please, please keep writing. Maybe a book???

  12. Avatar

    OMG!! This is why my mother bribes me to take my 16 year old sister school shopping. She would rather keep my 2 toddlers than go shopping with my sister. Yet, I have that same conversation or non-conversation with my sister too. And the phone thing…don’t get me started. Her constant texting drives me mad. I have begged my mother for forgiveness if I ever acted as my sister. Sometimes, it’s best not even to speak to my sister because she always has to have either the last word or no words at all. Ugh…

  13. Avatar

    I went shopping with all three kids on Friday.
    It actually wasn’t as bad as I expected, this time.
    I thought for sure my 12 year old girl and I would battle about the length of her shorts & skirts. But shockingly, she apparently has accepted that I won’t let her dress like a hoochie mama, and she found respectable clothing right off the bat.
    I nearly fainted.

  14. Avatar

    I was just in the trenches today with my 8 year old. It went almost like your experience but not quite. I have three others right behind her. If this is what I have to look forward to than God help me!

    I am tagging you with a MEME

  15. Avatar

    Ah.. I used to be a disaster in my pre-teens – just like Zoe. My family was unable to sponsor my shopping, so when I was 14 I had to search for my 1st job.
    Still I hated when my mother tried to buy me clothes at her taste or join me when I went shopping. Although I knew it makes her feel bad I was really annoyed by her presense too.

  16. Avatar

    ROFL! I have a teenage SON just like that! I have never seen a guy so particular about his clothes. Ugh! The kid went all last year rotating about 10 “outfits” he would wear. Hysterical narration as always!


  17. Avatar

    Oh my gosh, this sounds so familiar. I used to hate shopping with my 2 girls. I’m so glad they are old enough to buy their own clothes now. think I rather get a tooth pulled than go clothes shopping with a teenaged girl!

  18. Avatar

    “If I don’t like them you can return them.”

    Ha ha ha ha ha ha hahahahahahahahahahaha……….

    My daughter is 20 now and I have nothing to do with any of her shopping experience (well, I send a check to the credit card company)……..

    Loving the vignette of you yelling “This sort of underwear, just like you have on now!” over the whole store.

    🙂 lol, lol, lol, [snort!]

  19. Avatar

    I’m part of a Mother/Daughter group that is supposed to strengthn our relationship through adolesence. So my girls don’t hate me in 5 years. This summer Grandma took them shopping for clothes, I took them shopping for underwear, and they have uniforms for school 🙂

    I need to save this post to read again when they hit 9th grade!

  20. Avatar

    Whew! Makes me happy that my daughter is still just 10. My worst school shopping incident was trying to find size 11 1/2 men’s shoes that my 13 year old son liked.

  21. Avatar

    That made me laugh so hard…. Is this really what I have to look forward to?! Nah… Who am I kidding? I love shopping! Plus, to be able to embarrass your kids like that… it’s gotta be a little bit of fun. 😛

  22. Avatar

    Okay, that was so funny, I had to bring my 15 yr old daughter in to the room to share. After some eye rolling, she started to read and found it hilarious! Thanks for the laugh!

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