I spent the past weekend on the University of Iowa campus hanging out with my freshman daughter. Iowa billed this as their “Family Weekend.” I call it “Come-to-Town-and-Take-Your-Child-Shopping-for-Two-Consecutive-Days-to-Help-the-Local-Economy-Extravaganza.” Within 45 minutes of arriving in town, my daughter strategically tethered the first shopping challenge question.
“Do you think we might be able to do a little shopping while you’re in town?” She said this so innocently. It actually sounded spontaneous.
But I’m no fool. She’s my second child in college. I know how college shopping trips end up when you don’t put parameters on them. They’re like going to Jewel when your stomach is growling. You end up buying everything.
“Sure,” I told her. “But maybe we need a list first.” Aha! I knew that would slow the Daddy-cash-station thing down.
“Oh, I already did a list! I knew you’d want one. Want to see it?”
Not yet an hour in town and I was already set up. This kid was good. And, within seconds, she pulled out a little pink piece of paper covered with her all too familiar handwriting and began reading it.
“I need highlighters. And some plastic spoons. A lot of them,” she started.
(I was liking this so far.)
“And I need underwear. And bottled water. I also really need a warm, waterproof, winter coat. North Face. A nice one. You really haven’t gotten me a nice coat in years.”
(I hate guilt. And I hate her grouping the coat in with underwear and bottled water. But fine.)
“And I need some nice dress shoes. And some really good winter boots. I’m going to be walking a lot this winter and I want to get some Halloween stickers and orange paper so I can make cards for everyone. Don’t you think that will be cute? Hand-made cards? I think it’ll be really cute.”
(She’s good. That was brilliant how she did that one. Wait. Boots? How much are we talking?)
“I need good stuff to eat for breakfast. You know the 10 meals per week plan probably wasn’t enough. So I don’t usually eat breakfast in the cafeteria. But some bars would be good. Something like that? And, basically, I just need a ton of clothes. Not cute, play stuff. More business. But not formal. I need a lot. Like skirts, slacks, tops, all that kind of stuff. Did you see all the clothes my roommate has? It’s amazing. Anyway, back to those breakfast bars, anything with fruit filling or something so I can just put it in my purse and run. Oh, I actually need a purse too. I totally forgot that.”
(I was contemplating cutting up my credit cards in front of her.)
“I need binder clips. You know, the kind you always use. Those seem really smart.”
(She needed to suck-up way better than that. Was she really trying to compliment my use of binder clips?)
“Oh, and I need a Halloween costume and Kleenex.”
(I needed oxygen.)
Scary thing, that wasn’t the entire list. Scarier yet, we managed to get everything she wanted except for the pair of black slacks she really, really, really needs. Everything was too baggy. The slim slacks were saggy. The skinny pants were poofy. My head was spinning.
So much for my Family Weekend. Oh, there was a football game against Wisconsin. Great game. But we actually left at halftime.
Shopping, you know.