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Jan 17 2013

My Daughter & Her Boyfriend’s Jeans

By at 2:54 pm

torn jeans with holeI’m standing at the kitchen sink when my eldest walks past me to the table to pack her lunch.

“What’s all over your pants?”

“They’re distressed.”

“Did you rip them?!”

“No, they came like that. It’s a style.” She pauses for effect. “And they’re not my pants. And you said I looked cute in them.”

Now I’m distressed. I look more closely at her pants. They are black jeans, ripped and frayed on both legs. I hadn’t noticed that–looking up from the bottom of the stairs–when I’d complimented her.

“Are you wearing [boyfriend name]‘s pants?!”

“Yup: they’re too small for him and a little big on me. It’s a style. It’s called ‘boyfriend jeans.’” As if having a name makes a style more reasonable.

I’ve heard of this style–even seen the Old Navy ads on television–but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t include wearing an actual boyfriend’s jeans. And if your boyfriend is a 20-year-old college sophomore, he wears men’s jeans, right?

I can only sputter in response, “You’re wearing [boyfriend name]‘s pants…”

“You told me that I looked cute in them, with the belt and my shirt tucked in,” she replies calmly.

I’m not terribly concerned about her wearing the jeans as much as I am upset by what this implies about my parenting. I’m relieved that she tells me all about her relationship–we have (miraculously?) maintained open lines of communication–and I secretly enjoy when she ribs me about being unstylish and middle-aged. Yet I remain ambivalent about where to draw the boundaries with my 18 year-old-who is wearing her 20-year-old boyfriend’s jeans.

Can I make her change her pants?

Her younger sister looks up from her book and enjoys a victorious, I-told-you-so laugh. “I knew it! I knew she wouldn’t like it,” she cheers.

I pay no attention to her. Instead, in a breezy tone, I tell my eldest: “You do look cute, with the belt and your shirt tucked in. But it’s a little weird…” I trail off, before resuming more loudly, “I wore your father’s jeans when I was pregnant with you…well, until I bought maternity clothes.”

I believe that I’ve successfully made “boyfriend jeans” less cool, because she attempts to divert the attention to her sister, who is reading A Game of Thrones at the table: “Do you even know what that book is about?! Have you seen the show? It’s all nudity.”

At this, their 10-year-old brother giggles.

“You need to consult me before buying her books,” she says.

“It’s the book, not the show!” her sister shouts. “And the book is more violent, anyway.” I am careful not to interrupt to tell her that “more violence” is not a persuasive argument. “I’m 15 years old and I can read what I want! You’re not in charge of me.”

My son sneaks a look at me and rolls his eyes before returning to Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

There is a reason I call them “my three stooges.” There is a reason I tell them, at various times every day, “sometimes I just need compliance.”

Parenting teens is exhausting, especially before 8 in the morning.

To my 15-year-old: “Alright, untwist your panties.” To my 18 year old: “You’re not in charge of her. Now put a jacket over those boyfriend jeans and get out of here.” I turn toward the table, “Both of you, before you miss the bus.”

I can barely hide my smile, which threatens to ruin my practiced look of mock exasperation.

To my son: “We’re leaving in 10 minutes.”

To myself: Apparently, I’m not in charge of anyone.


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