In the fifth grade, Guess Jeans were the hottest item. Every popular kid had them. The dark denim with the triangle patch on the back pocket marked with the Guess ? screamed, “I FIT IN!”
Or at least my 11 year old mind thought so.
But I grew up in a practical, one-income home. I guess we were middle-class, but after a rough period when my dad didn’t have a job, we opted for a frugal life. Guess Jeans weren’t frugal.
I had cute clothes, a name brand scattered in when I could find it on clearance, but mostly, I wanted what I didn’t have.
My mom must have sensed my pain because she bought me a knock-off pair of Guess Jeans. In passing they almost looked the same with the mock triangle pocket patch. But they said something like Gasp without the ?
I wasn’t impressed. For some reason, the faux pair only increased my desire to wear a ridiculously overpriced pair of jeans I was sure to grow out of immediately.
So, I did something I’ll never forget: I took a red sharpie marker and wrote Guess ? over the word Gasp.
Of course, I didn’t achieve anything except an awful-looking pair of jeans.
And so I wore a long shirt over them until I grew out of them. Because I didn’t want my hard-working parents to know how badly I wanted to fit in.
I’m raising a twelve year old now. I think twelve is the new teen, only without all the privileges. I have no idea what I’m doing.
I can’t imagine how it would have felt to have us as parents growing up…we’ve always tried to raise our kids counter-cultural, but I’m afraid the status quo has shifted by running a non-profit from our garage, going to Africa every summer and occasionally being featured on Channel 11 News. And while we don’t apologize for it, I know somedays it has to be a little awesome and a lot hard when you’re in the sixth grade.
Because if I remember correctly, everything is hard in sixth grade.
I see it there, her desire to fit in. I recognize it and I understand it. I watch her fight against it, bend to it, balance it.
And more than anything, I get it. I don’t always fit in either. Most days it’s a little awesome and a lot hard. But I’m nearly 40 now and I understand that fitting in is fleeting. It’s always changing and I don’t want to keep up.
I’m okay with me. I’m thankful for my life, the journey we are on.
Last night, I told my daughter about my fake Guess jeans and we laughed.
She pulled off her knock-off Ugg boots and we talked into the night.