The Sparkly Pants

Have you been watching American Idol? If so, you’ve seen a lot of this. Mostly it’s hysterical, but sometimes it sad and pathetic. A few tears are one thing, but the bawling and tantrums are disgraceful. What does this have to do with sparkly pants you ask?

About a year ago, Magnolia needed some new pants. She was at the age where you realize that shopping at Value World is uncool, where you realize you’re going to have to lie about where your mom bought those pants if anyone asks, and where you hope to the universe no one who is going to the fancy-pants grocery store next door might see you going inside for $2 jeans, which odds are, will not be Gap or even Old Navy no matter hard you hope for it. As the mom, I could see this happening with Magnolia and offered to go to one of those Mart-type stores instead. I told her we’d have to shop only the sale racks. She readily agreed.

We tried things on, we oohed and clapped. We’d found three pair of fancy jeans, embroidered with hearts and flowers, studded with jewels, glued with glitter, and accompanied by pink belts with butterflies, sparkly peace signs, and shining stars. We’d hit the jackpot. When she tried on her favorite ones, she said, “These look just like Hayley’s!” Maggie was thrilled and I was so proud of making her so happy. I was spending $12 a pair, which was a lot more than $2, but this splurging was fantastic fun. I paid with debit card and didn’t need to sign, so we were back in the car before I looked at the receipt. I’d been charged over $20 each for those pants! I went right back in there and said, Oh No NO, this was Not right.

The customer service lady shrugged. “Oh, sorry. Someone must have put these in the sales section by mistake. Do you still want them?”

I argued some more, mostly to avoid eye contact with my seven-year-old. I knew what was coming. I finally gave in to saying, “No thank you, just refund my card.”

We ended up with two pairs of plain dark jeans, a pair of pink pants. Magnolia didn’t complain. It was still a step up from Value World. I took her to McDonald’s after that and as she ate her McNuggets, I apologized for the zillionth time. She dutifully said, “That’s okay.” I knew she was sad. OF COURSE she was sad. We both were. I may have even promised her that when/if she went to Prom, I’d buy her the sparkliest dress we could find.

The thing is, I’d like to believe that this was the day she learned not to be that guy up there in the photo. It sucks hearing ‘no.’ It sucks very bad. (It sucks saying no) But that’s life, isn’t it? As awful as it was to put those pants back on the rack, I realized that my kids aren’t growing up in a household that gives out participation certificates and trophies and obscene amounts of holiday gifts or false compliments. No. And that was okay. Because when my kids go off to audition for American Idol (or any job equivalent), I don’t want them knowing they deserve stardom, being shocked at rejection, or feeling like this opportunity is their one and only chance.

Published by jody sparks

Jody Sparks Mugele spent her first career in marketing writing and leading teams of writers and editors. After her son came out as transgender in 2015, she dedicated herself to advocating for the rights of the LGBTQ+ community. For two years, she led the Indianapolis regional chapter of PFLAG, a nationally renowned LGBTQ+ advocacy group. She has given many conference talks about parenting trans kids, healthcare in the trans community, and suicidality among LGBTQ+ youth. And with GenderNexus, an Indianapolis-based advocacy organization, she created programming and led support groups to work with parents to help their children through all aspects of gender transition. She recently moved to Northeast Georgia where she is excited to develop opportunities to continue to strongly and proudly advocate for LGBTQ+ members of our society. She also LOVES kitschy Christmas crafting!

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