Sunday, October 30, 2011

Dangerous Book for Moms: Chapter 5

"You need NANNY MCPHEE!!!"
It's been a while since our last installment of The Dangerous Book for Moms, but a new and very important chapter came to me while I was sitting in church today.  My mind wandered to some photos I had seen on Facebook recently of some scantily clad young ladies.  I was confused by what I saw, and then I remembered the scary tale of woe which I will now relate.

It was 1992.  I was a freshman in high school:  the social birth of the rest of my teenage life.

I am pretty sure that I had my outfits planned for at least the first 30 days of school, with no repeats.  That was very important.  Had to look good, dontchaknow.  

Then one day, mid-October or so, I must've run out of outfits to wear, because I started to improvise.  Deep in the back of my closet was a cute little dress suit that my very stylish grandmother had given me for Christmas the year prior.  I hadn't worn it yet, because unfortunately, the suit was olive green and she had paired it with a mustard yellow turtleneck.  Ack.  Not my color.

But I was nearing the end of my "fall line" and I had no money to buy more clothes, so I gave it another chance.  Now being the 90's this outfit had a sweet "cutout" in the bottom of the jacket and a matching one in the bottom of the skirt, where some red metal circles dangled.  

Red.  I realized that I just so happened to have a red sports bra that when worn under said suit jacket would appear just like I was wearing a red tank top.


I wore it to school that day, and received rave reviews from all of my peers.  My best friend thought I looked great, and so did I...until I saw my mom later that night at my volleyball game and saw the LOOK ON HER FACE.  Pure horror.

"Did you wear that outfit...that way...all day???"  

(I'm pretty sure steam was coming out of every possible orifice of her face before I even answered her.)

"Yes...why?" was my weak reply.

I knew I was in trouble.  No, trouble would not even begin to describe what I was in.

The outfit was just fine in my eyes, but not in hers, because the "cutout" portion revealed my "midrift" as parents were calling it those days.  Not acceptable.

What followed was an evening of "re-education" about what was modest and acceptable...and what was not.  I found it completely mortifying that I had to then stand in front of my Dad in the outfit and hear what he thought about it too.  I am guessing he found the experience equally mortifying.

If you haven't already guessed, this chapter of The Dangerous Book for Moms is really a chapter ripped right out of the playbook of the most dangerous Mom ever...MY MOM.

And you're about to get schooled on the way to make a punishment fit the crime.

What was the consequence for my actions going to be??

I knew I wasn't going to be grounded.  There wasn't much she could ground me from anyway without pulling me out of school (because I was always there).

I was informed that I would WEAR THE OUTFIT AGAIN TO SCHOOL THE VERY NEXT DAY...AND THIS TIME I'D WEAR IT THE RIGHT WAY...with the ugly yellow turtleneck underneath (sorry, Grandma, it just wasn't my color!).  AND...if anyone asked WHY I was wearing the same outfit two days in a row...I was to tell them exactly why...because it wasn't modest the other way.

(Teenagers of the world, you may now join me in one great, blood-curdling scream....Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah! Thanks.)

And furthermore, I was informed that I shouldn't even THINK about doing the old switcheroo into a new outfit once I got to school, because my Mom had "eyes everywhere" as she called them, who would call her and tell her if I tried anything funny.

Gosh, don't you guys just love my mom now? :)

So, the next day, I donned my beautiful olive green outfit and walked into school with my head held as high as I could possibly fake it, but inside feeling like a totally pathetic joke.

My best friend gave me a really funny look in homeroom and asked me what in the world was going on?  This outfit was no "t-shirt and jeans" look that could be passed off and worn twice in one week.  This was a very unique ensemble.

I explained what had happened to my friend, and she then looked at me with pity.

When I met up with my friend again in first period, she turned to me reassuringly and said, "Don't worry...I've told everyone why you are wearing that outfit again!"

As the day went on, I became much less concerned with what I was wearing and started, for the first time, to think of others.  I realized just how many classmates of mine actually wore the same outfits, the same jean/t-shirt combo every day or every other day.  I don't think they were doing it to make a fashion statement either.  

The punishment that my parents doled out suddenly held a much bigger consequence for me. I was all at once made painfully aware of how much I had and how much others didn't.  And I was made to realize that the self-absorbed, image-important path I was embarking on during this first quarter of my high school career was not the one that I should be taking.

I was no longer ashamed of my immodesty, as much as I was ashamed of the selfishness and pride that had lead me to wear an immodest outfit.  And boy, was I ashamed...deeply ashamed, and scared straight, if you will, back onto a path of not only modesty in dress but modesty in how I thought of myself and others.  It is a path of humility that I admit I must work hard to stay on every day since.

Now, I have a feeling that I've posted this story on my blog before (although I can't seem to find it!)  But I just had to include it in my Dangerous Book for Moms, because it was such a poignant lesson for me AND a fair warning to my children:  Please learn from me, and don't make me send you to school "re-wearing" an outfit the way that I had to when I was young!!  I promise you, you will not like it! 

So how do you guys like my Nanny McPhee Halloween costume?  My kids reacted just as I thought they would.  They are terrified of Nanny McPhee.  Ahem...I know the feeling.  Nanny McPhee is hardcore.  Unlike Mary Poppins, the nanny's methods are a little less sugar and a lot more tough-love-makes-the-medicine-go-down.

I sure am glad that my Mom gave me a little tough love when I needed it...(and a little Uncle Buck when I needed it too.)  I love you, Mom!

Perhaps when The Dangerous Book for Moms gets published, I could get Nanny McPhee to write the forward...nevermind, the Nanny has nothing on my Mom!  

PS - Just so everyone knows...My mom and I have talked about this series of events many times...and we both laugh about it now.  And just like in the Nanny McPhee movies, I see my Mother as the most beautiful person I know...because of these lessons that she was brave enough to teach me when I was young.

Lesson for Chapter 5:  Dangerous Moms always make the punishment fit the crime.

(*Linking up to Chocolate on My Cranium's Blog Hop on "Bravery"...not because of my bravery, but because of my Mom's!)


  1. I love your costume - and your story. That's a great lesson to learn from that. I bet your mom was pleased (assuming she knows what you learned).

  2. Perfect punishment! Parents can be so smart. And brave. Thank goodness!

  3. I hope that I can be just as smart (read brave) to do the same thing as your mom, should the need arise.

    I feel that I am so very blessed because I also had a Mom who was so very smart and brave. What a wonderful thing to have parents that love and care for us and teach us.

  4. I'm a Nanny McPhee fan. And now a big fan of your mom, too:) I hope I can always come up with genius ways to make the punishment fit the crime and teach memorable, life-changing lessons.
    I sure love how uplifting all your posts are!

  5. I so wish that my mom had done something like this. We lived in California at the time and I was wearing quite modest clothing compared to what the other kids were. It was extremely hard to find anything more modest.
    Such a great idea that I will keep in my bank to use should the need arise. Thanks for sharing.

  6. interesting story, sounds just like your mom! an effective lesson...

  7. I hope I can be as levelheaded & effective as your mom was! And if my kiddos learn the lessons you did, it will all be worth it! Thanks for sharing- that story was awesome!

  8. This is such a great story. :)

  9. What a great story--and way cool costume!

  10. I am a fan of Nanny McPhee...and ofMary Poppins, too.

    I am also a fan of your mom's after reading this story!


  11. Great story. I could feel your humiliation all the way from 1992. What a lesson!

  12. I now have a crush on your mom. (Not an inappropriate kind - sheesh)

  13. Love your Mom!! That sounds like something my mom would have come up with. We had a young mother at church yesterday who was so inappropriately dressed that I felt bad for her. It is so sad that some women feel like they have to 'show it all off' to get any attention. She is really a beautiful sister and just wish she could see it as well!

  14. We try and make the consequence fit the offense, so I know how hard it is to be creative about it. How wonderful to know that she loved you so much that she would take the time. What a great mom, and a great example!

  15. wow...what a nice way to boost my self esteem today (Jocelyn's mom). And just for an additional piece of info. I was not the first to see my daughter in that outfit that afternoon. Before I even got into the gym, another father came up and commented to me how lovely Jocelyn looked but how different from what she normally wore. And she did look lovely, very hip, but not acceptable. And I think she wanted to have a new outfit for EVERY day of that school year. Also, I did not know she didn't like the mustard yellow sweater til today. Oh to be as wise as Nanny McPhee every day.

  16. That is a great story, and very well told. Your Mom is awesome!

  17. 'J' I remember that happening in real life. I'll never forget you coming into church or early morning seminary and telling me what happened. It was dreadful(at the time)But, what an amazing life story you gained. Sometimes we do have to learn 'the hard way'.

  18. That's AWESOME! Totally something my mom would do..she was so creative at consequences/parenting. I have teenage daughters, I'll have to remember this one. :) Thanks.

  19. So cute, this story! Even as I type, my 13 y/o daughter is begging, "Read it again!" You are awesome. You'll have to tell us about young women's. I am an advisor in the YW program and LOVE it!

  20. Thanks for sharing the story! I actually laughed out loud, while feeling your pain and embarrasment.

    Kudos to your mom! I will tuck that little trick in my back pocket, and share it with other moms I know. :)