I take them one at a time...and it is their special day.
We get shoes.
We get clothes.
We get a backpack.
We get pencils and paper and crayons and markers.
It's a big thing.
School starts back on August 10 here. Something that always feels cruel. It is still wickedly hot and humid, but the school district hasn't felt it important to get my opinion on this practice...so school shopping begins the end of July.
This year our little Mo got to go first.
She has been worrying her little head over going to school. Mr. Jenny and I have been surprised because she's enjoyed preschool so much, but she seemed excited and happy to go shopping.
So I gathered up my coupons, the excited little girl, took a deep breath and headed to the store.
We always do school shoes first...
And each and every pair of Twinkle Toes must be tried on and debated over...
This one has a charm...
...this one has pink sparkly laces.
Each and every pair must be laced up and tried out by jumping and running...
"Oh Grandma! See how fast I am in these Twinkle Toes? I need to jump and run in all of them!"
We must make several calls to Granpa to discuss the merits of each pair.
I know it's hard to believe but he can't advise whether charms OR sparkly laces are superior. He tells her she can't buy all of them, though...or he might have a heart attack!
She giggles over this.
"Grandpa is silly," she tells me.
Finally we return to the car with several pair of shoes.
I suggest we go home and swim. "We can finish later in the week," I say. It is hot and I am getting crabby.
"No, Grandma! We need to get EVERYTHING today!"
I take a deep breath and head to the clothing store.
She exclaims in wonder that tank tops come in pink, purple, yellow, blue AND orange!
She is astonished to find that there are shorts IN HER SIZE in all the colors she likes best.
She covers her mouth in astonishment that there dozens of dresses she likes...and, "LOOK GRANDMA! THESE ARE ALL SIZE 5!"
I explain to her that we will try things on and pick her favorites...BUT that we will not be buying all of these things.
She looks concerned and then giggles. "Will Grandpa have a heart attack?"
We head to a dressing room with three hooks. I tell her one hook is for "Yes", one hook is for "Maybe" and one hook is for "No". She takes off the dress she is wearing and hangs it on the "No" hook. "I don't think we need that hook, Grandma!"
But we do.
Because this shirt is itchy, and this dress is too tight, and these shorts squish her belly button in.
But when she likes something, she claps her hands together and twirls.
And twirls some more.
I am worried about all the twirling.
And the almost empty "No" hook.
When she has finally tried on everything and twirled to her hearts content, she points to the overflowing "Yes" hook and asks sweetly, "Can we call Grandpa and get all these clothes?"
"What do you think he will say, Miss MoMo?"
"I think he will say ...ummm...I don't think so."
"So what do you think we should do?"
"I know, Grandma! I'm going to pick the clothes that make me want to twirl the most! Is that good? Is that a good idea?"
"Yes, Mo. Let's pick those!"
We discuss what things can go together to make more outfits.
We retry a few things to see if they make her want to twirl!
After much deliberation, she carefully chooses a reasonable amount of clothes.
"Grandma, I'm hot!" she tells me after we check out, "Let's go home and swim!"
"Don't you want to get EVERYTHING?" I ask her.
She thinks for a brief moment and then tells me, "No, Grandma. I think we should stop. We don't want to give Grandpa a heart attack!"
And when we get home, we swim and then she gives her Grandpa and sisters a fashion show.
And she twirls...
...and she is a happy little girl.
And, fortunately, Grandpa doesn't have a heart attack.