The Fashion Police

My friend, Kristen, stayed over the other night. We've been BFFs, as the kids say, since we were in 6th grade (pushing on 30 years now). In the morning Kristen, who has no children of her own, becomes a spectator to the Duncan weekday morning routine. She has no idea what she is in for.

It starts as a pretty impressive picture of domestic bliss,. A spinach and cheese omelet for Steve, a quick "I love you" and he's out the door to catch the early train. Kids are gently roused from bed. "Get up now. You don't want me to come up there! Do you?" Kristen rolls her eyes and laughs as I tell her that I hope they never call me on this one because I am sure it will not be half as scary as they have obviously built it up to be in their minds. I am now at the stove, on a weekday no less, making pancakes by request. Blueberry, chocolate chip, banana or plain. Pretty impressive, huh?

Did I forget to mention the absolutely amazing grocery store find I made the other day? The Organic Batter Blaster. It is totally awesome. Picture a whip cream spray can filled with organic (must be healthy, right?) pancake batter. You shake, turn can upside down and spray out just the batter you need right onto the pan. A few frozen blueberries, a handful of chocolate chips or even a piece or two of banana and boom! you're like the best mom ever.

Liam scarfs down his chocolate chip pancakes then slips into whatever he finds in his drawer. Today it's a grey pair of sweats and his Tony Hawk skater shirt. Kinda sloppy but Auntie Kristen is here and to be honest I am thrilled it matches and is clean. He's off to tooth brushing, face washing and pre-bus prep (arranging his gear for a quick get away - his back pack, coat, socks & shoes, hat and mittens if necessary). When finished he knows he is free to spend his 15 or so minutes before the bus as he sees fit. With that carrot he is off to the races.

Then there is Molly, 8 going on 16. She's opted for blueberry and hits me mid batter squirt with a shoe location question. I must admit I am not really on fashion police duty at the moment. I give the usual suggestion of places one might locate one missing black flat - shoe pile by back door, shoe pile in kitchen, shoe pile in her room, maybe the bathroom, bottom of hall closet, etc. - and only mildly register the black skirt and white patterned tights. As I offer Kristen coffee, there is some part of my brain trying to recall where she even got white patterned tights and wasn't that skirt really a skort from summer and isn't it now, 5 months later, a tad on the short side. The thoughts are there; just not at the forefront of my brain. Plus what the heck, Auntie Kristen is here and it is a fun morning. Cut the kid some slack if anything is totally inappropriate I know my best pal will have my back.

Before I know it I hear Kristen asking Molly, "What's up with the boots?" She can't find the other black flat and is going with the boots instead. Knee-high, swede and lambs wool, wedge heeled boots. Moving closer to the front of my mind are Fashion Police thoughts - short skirt, where did the tights come from, and now knee-high boots. Not really the type of outfit that walks out my front door every day. Since Molly is off to do her hair before I turn around, I shoot Kristen the "what do you think of the outfit" question. She shrugs as she sips her coffee and says, "Uh...She looks... cute". Not exactly a rave review but I turn back to my pancakes and slide them onto a plate as Molly hits the kitchen table in her "cute" outfit.

As I deliver said pancakes to my precious child I see that the tights are not really tights at all. She apparently took the knee socks from her Christmas kilt and pulled them up to thigh highs! The skort is from summer and is, in fact, way too short. I know this because I see 5 inches of skin from the top of her homemade thigh highs to the bottom edge of the skort. And guess what? The boots do anything but pull the whole outfit together. In the mere seconds it has taken for the Fashion Police hat to become firmly planted on my head I slam the pancakes down with a shocked, "Oh My God you look like a hooker!" To which Kristen spits her coffee across the table in hysterics and asks does she even know what one is? Six year old Liam in mid pre-bus prep pipes in with the answer, "Auntie, it is when you pay someone to be your girlfriend." More coffee across the room. I give up trying to impress. "Welcome to my life." This is the typical Duncan weekday morning. Fun huh? As if to punctuate my point we are now subjected to a loud foot stomp, an eye roll for the ages and a snippy "you don't know young fashion" as Molly goes in search of a more appropriate outfit.

I can't help but to recall this absolutely typical yet crazy morning as I read in the Boston Globe today:
"Elizabeth M., 16, was found face-down in a partially frozen Concord brook early Sunday morning after leaving an all-night party on foot."

Somewhere right now in Wellesley, Massachusetts is a grieving mother. A woman who played fashion police to her daughter more mornings than she can count and taught her to look both ways before crossing the street and I am sure taught her the dangers of walking around in the dark alone in a strange town. But 16 year old kids don't think bad things can happen to them and they make rash decisions and they may even be hampered by alcohol flowing through their underage brains. It happens. Don't think your kid won't make a bad decision some day. They will. We all did. This is in fact the second such loss of teenage life in Massachusetts this year. Is there anything we can do to keep our children, every one's children, safe from bad decisions becoming tragedies?

A Wellesley mother lost her 16 year old daughter this weekend. I weep for her unimaginable loss and cannot help but look at my own children, less than 10 years Elizabeth's junior, and feel totally unprepared and very scared.

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