My four school-aged kids had a Throwback Day this week to get them hyped up for their biggest fundraising event of the year. The idea was to celebrate all the decades since the school was founded.

I thought it was a fun idea until my kids came home from school telling me they had to dress up in really old clothes from “when I was a kid.”

Old clothes? I’m a child of the ‘90s! My childhood wasn’t that long ago.

Vanity aside, I got on board when three of them turned out to be super excited about dressing up how mom and dad used to. Scarlett determined she’d rather go with a vintage ‘70s look and, being the fashionista of the bunch, we didn’t blame her for wanting to stand out.

Scarlett and I snuck away to Target during my other daughter’s volleyball practice and I said a little prayer in the parking lot that we’d be able to find a few retro items to add to the kids’ looks for the next day.

To my surprise, the store was packed with aisles and aisles of clothes celebrating decades past. Thank goodness for procrastinating moms like me, “throwback” is so popular right now. An hour later, we had a cart laden with too many new clothes for one dress up day at school. But at least they’d have something fun to wear!

By the next morning, as they laughed hysterically at what I expected them to wear, I regretted my generosity.

I told Solo, who is in kindergarten, that his cut-off shorts were all the rage 30 years ago, and he could tie his sweatshirt around his waist. I styled Stella’s paint-splattered overalls with only one side hooked, her tie-dyed Polaroid t-shirt cropped and neon. Styker’s burnout sweatshirt and frayed shorts made for a spitting image of my brother from back in the day. And when my ‘70s inspired Scarlett walked upstairs looking très chic in bell bottoms and a peasant top, I insisted that she braid her hair in two plaits.

They thought my knowledge of “old” fashioned style was hilarious, but when they actually started throwing around the word “old” and “embarrassing,” I drew the line. They laughed harder.

In an effort to capture their cuteness in a picture, I told them to throw up peace signs or wrap their arms around themselves a la 90’s rap.

“You’re so old,” Stella sighed.

“This is so embarrassing,” the rest of them agreed.

In the car on the way to school, I taught them the vernacular. I showed them how to make a W with their hands while rolling their eyes and saying “Whatever” in their best valley girl impression. A few other gems included “as if,” “gnarly" and the whole fingers-in-the-shape-of-an-L-plastered-to-your-forehead thing.  

I did add: "Don't actually call anybody a loser, but this was what we did."

Instead of thanking me for my infinite wisdom and advice, they had the nerve to tell me I was embarrassing! When we parked at school, Scarlett said, “I hope this is the right day, otherwise I’m calling you to come get me.”

I suppose every parent faces this day eventually.

The hero worship faded and now I’m just the embarrassing mom who has real-life experience of their “throwback days.”

They got off lucky, though. I could have made them wear culottes and a fanny pack.

Although, I realize both of those things are back in style now. Maybe I really am old.


Rachel Higginson is a married mom to five kids. She is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who has received a Utopia Award for Best Contemporary Romance and Penned Con Award for Best Novella Series. She lives in Omaha.

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