Bras, Boys and Down-Undies: Inside Gilly Hicks

Posted on February 4, 2013 by

True confession: I’m not much of a shopper.  Malls make nervous. Walking around in circles without any true purpose, dodging strollers and aimless teenagers stresses me out. And of course, there’s the money issues.  But even more crazy-making is the thought of my teens doing it without me.

I’m not big on just ‘hanging out’.

I know the trouble teens can get into.

Cam and brasSo, being the mom of two teens-who-love-to-spend-money, and seeing that the great big Galleria was not completely out of the way to where our actual destination was, and knowing that my daughter would have to pay return shipping charges if we didn’t stop, I reluctantly caved in and with the caution we had to “make it quick”, walked through the glittering gates of doom.

Seriously, I dislike shopping.  Especially shopping malls.

There is nothing that will age a woman quicker than entering the dark, labyrinthine teenage-girl-shopping-nirvana called Gilly Hicks.

Scantily clad teen greeters welcome  us with message to be sure to “check out their selection of bras and down-undies.”  What? I think I’m blushing.

My 13-year-old boy’s eyes widen. He’s about to learn a lot more on this shopping trip than I expected.

An intensely sweet odor overtakes our senses as we wind through the darkened network of aisles inside the store.  Am I the only one bumping into racks of tiny t-shirts, and excusing myself as I walk into my own reflection in the fun-house-like profusion of full length mirrors?  Those not nearly as advanced in age (in their first two decades) appear to navigate easily, jumping from rack to stack with the giddiness of one about to enter Disneyland for the first time.  I have merely become the human shopping cart, arms full of nearly weightless tanks, Ts, and…down-undies?

Spinning around, I frantically search for a glimpse of him – he should stand out amongst the teenage females skipping around.  I wander through racks and rows until suddenly, like the heavens parting, I see him: he has stopped dead center, like a minotaur frozen in his spot. He has found it: the wall ‘o bras.

Suddenly I realize I’ve lost the boy.

I see the look on his face. I imagine the thoughts spinning through his head as he takes in the floor to ceiling rainbow display.  The colors glow through the darkness, towering far above my 5’2″ frame.  Eye-level cups and colors of all sizes and shades boggle the mind. My brain clicks rapidly, searching for the right words. I stop, waiting for him to make the first move, ready for him to bolt to the exit.

To my astonishment, he smiles.  “Mom, will you take my picture?” he asks with a grin.

I look into his eyes, and see the three-year-old I remember so well.  But his face is longer, his body lankier, and I realize I’m in for far more than I imagined. His eyes are sparkling.  He’s not squealing in disgust.  He’s amused.  He likes it.


Reluctantly, I snap the photo and watch while he posts it to Facebook.  He giggles.  The comment alerts start flashing on his phone.

Childhood innocence has left us behind.  Let the teenage games begin.


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Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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