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  • August 28, 2014

The Graduate - Ladue News: Tangential Thinker

The Graduate

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Posted: Thursday, June 7, 2012 12:52 pm

We have big news in the Baldwin household: Cranky graduated from eighth grade last week. For a 14-year-old girl, graduating eighth grade is a surprisingly big deal. It means high school. It means driving. It means independence. It means new shoes and a dress.

Shoe-shopping with a 14-year-old girl is an interesting experience: A mother looks at her 14-year-old and sees a 9-year-old, whereas a 14-year-old girl looks in the mirror and sees a 20-year-old. So, as I browse the aisles looking for the perfect shoes, my eyes settle on an adorable (and tasteful) pair of ballerina flats. I grab them, and as I spin to show her, Cranky is spinning towards me as well. What do you think about these? Our voices echo.

I proudly present the pair I found and Cranky gives me a look like she has just smelled bad cheese. Then I notice what she has in her hands: a pair of 6- inch platform wedges that I can only imagine being worn by a cocktail waitress in Reno with daddy issues. How does a responsible parent handle a situation like this? Are you out of your mind? That seemed right.

Mom, everyone wears them like this. Well, now I know I’m going to win. Really? Have six of your friends text you a picture of the shoes they’re wearing to graduation. We’ll just see about that. Sure enough, she’s right. Picture after picture of platforms and wedges and gladiator sandals appear on her phone. It’s like they all went shoe-shopping in the lobby of a casino. So I give her my rational response: I absolutely forbid it.

So, the evening of graduation arrives, and Cranky and her posse have all gotten ready at a friend’s house. I sit in the chapel and await the pomp and circumstance. They come out in alphabetical order so it doesn’t take long. Suddenly, she appears—and boy, does she look tall. I glance down, and lo and behold, she is wearing shoes that would give me altitude sickness. I pocket my outrage—only momentarily tempted to walk up to the front of the auditorium and make her take them off—and watch the procession. Girl after girl appears in heels: geeks, athletes, musicians, dancers, heels, heels, heels. The battle is over. I have lost. I wish someone had warned me before I had them that these kids grow up. I mean, what’s next? Learner’s permits and dates? Oh, no.

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