Back to school has mom losing her cool


It seems that our nation’s retailers and I have come to a complete and utter impasse as to what “back to school” entails.
Different ideas. I see it as an opportunity to send our students off to school freshly dressed, pressed, and appropriately outfitted to learn. They, on the other hand, see it as an opportunity to outfit them for stripper school.
Where, pray tell, have all the sweet little plaid skirts gone? The Mary Janes? The pinafores?
Outfitting my son for kindergarten last year, it was easy to overlook the occasional inappropriate offering. Then I had to get my daughter ready for her own first day soon to come and the hip huggers hit the fan!
I blame the Bratz dolls. These scantily clad uber-hip hotties make Barbie – even in her Malibu bikini days – look like a nun.
Not content to sit on the shelves and seduce Ken (probably while Barb is away at veterinary/ballerina/pilot training), the self-proclaimed bratty beauties have branched out into clothing, accessories, underwear and probably household appliances by the time you read this.
Lunchboxes violated. Even the lunchbox aisle isn’t safe from these brazen hussies. Having gone on a quest for a non-sexual lunchbox, I find that the bratty brethren have conquered even the lunch tote market; leaving only the smallest niche for the equally vapid Barbie (and I say this as someone who loved Barbie as a girl myself.)
Nonetheless, if my daughter doesn’t like Barbie she doesn’t like her. Can I force the child to carry a hot pink lunchbox with that ubiquiotious vacant plastic stare interrupting her digestion for an entire school year? It’s the stuff future therapy is made of!
Having been in the trenches of our local shopping mecca, I can safely report that there are no wholly innocent lunchboxes available anywhere.
This, mind you, is the place where people travel from three states to shop. The region where you can buy one of everything ever dreamt of. There is a ham store for pity’s sake!
Yet not one retailer is selling a little girl’s lunchbox with a cast of fully clothed characters? Where are the butterflies? The rainbows and unicorns? Where have all the flowers gone?
Over my dead body. At this point, my jaw is clenched and I have the steely eyed gaze of the borderline insane. I have officially turned into the mother I swore I would never be – muttering to myself “over my dead body” as I contemplate sending my daughter through school in homespun dresses and sack cloth.
Forging on to the shoe department I found shoes in sizes for my 5-year-old that only a grown transvestite could love. Towering heels. Stacked platforms. Enough buckles and belted things to cause a kindergarten teacher to weep.
Hard to find. I had to go to the far depths of the store, behind some flaming pink high tops to even secure a pair of plain white sneakers. Checking out, they all but wrapped my cheap sneaks in brown paper to save me embarrassment.
Rounding the corner to the clothing department, there unfolded before us acres of glitter and sequins almost as far as the eye could see.
Somehow, retailers have decided that all sizes from five to 16 are of one fashion sense. This means that my 5-year-old kindergarten student and her 15-year-old cousin are supposed to share the same clothing styles. That is just so wrong on so many levels.
No photo op. Not that the shirt with “100% Hottie” spelled out in red sequins across the chest doesn’t just scream “kindergarten photos,” mind you.
To be fair, my daughter and I did find a plaid skirt. It featured the words “punk princess” repeated throughout the pattern and a giant rhinestone safety pin worthy of any member of the Sex in the City cast. Paired with those sky-high boots from over in shoes, we would have had the perfect outfit to give daddy a complete coronary.
That aside, the experience wasn’t entirely demoralizing. I did find that everything old is new again. I see that the knitted ponchos of my youth are making a strong resurgence, and peasant blouses are back.
Beware and aware. The furry lined boots seemed sturdy, and even the beads and fringe I could even bear. Nonetheless, we cannot let our guard down for a moment. This embrace of all things 70s can only mean one, sad, thing: The culottes are coming. Be very afraid.
(Kymberly Foster Seabolt is desperately seeking pinafores. She welcomes comments at or P.O. Box 38, Salem, Ohio 44460 or


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Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless.