Graduation, Passion, and Shopping Frustration

Both the girls "graduated" last week, Delphine from Senior Kindergarten, and Cordelia from Nursery School. There is some division of opinion on these early graduations: Some people seem to think they're idiotic—graduating from kindergarten?! Seriously?—while others, mostly parents, think they're charming. I'm in the latter camp: a rite of passage is a rite of passage, even if you're only three feet tall. Both Cordelia's life and Delphine's are going to be very different in September, and I think that's worth acknowledging.

Cordelia is starting Junior Kindergarten in fall, in the mornings. We haven't met her teacher yet because she's going to be new to the school, and I have no idea who else is going to be in her class. All we know is which room she's going to be in. She's familiar with the school, though, from dropping off and picking up Delphine for the last two years. She's thrilled to be going to "my sister's school". (She refers to Delphine almost exclusively as "my sister".)

Delphine is starting Grade One in fall, and we'll find out tomorrow who her teacher is going to be. She's alternately scared and excited about Grade One. I'm excited about finally being able to buy school supplies.

Cordelia has a new passion: chewing gum. I always used to judge, a teeny bit, people who let little kids chew gum, but as in so many ways, I have become that which I judged. I have to limit her to one piece of gum a day. She likes the minty kinds.

Delphine's new passion is Dirty Jobs, which she likes to watch every day. I figure it's an informative window into the grown-up world, and it will give her some idea of how much work goes into making the food and objects which appear in our house. And into cleaning skulls and preparing owl pellets. She calls Mike Rowe "Mark".

Delphine and Cordelia were enjoying a marathon TV session on Saturday morning, when Saddle Club came on. Saddle Club is one of those cheap soap operas in which Australia seems to specialise—this one is set at some kind of horsey school and is aimed at, I assume, "tweens". Delphine doesn't watch it regularly but she enjoys it when she catches it. I think it's rubbish, and when it came on I huffed and rolled my eyes. Delphine said, "What?"

"I don't like this show. There's too much melodrama and people getting upset with each other."

Blake cut in with, "They don't talk to each other about their problems, they just get mad."

I said, "No-one acts like that in real life."

Delphine gazed at us levelly. "Maybe they just want to make it exciting."

Well, I guess I don't need to worry about her media awareness.

I went to Value Village today. (Blake stayed home and looked after the children, so they don't appear in this story. Sorry.) My mum sent me some money for my birthday, because I said I wanted to buy myself some new clothes. I thought the money would go further if I shopped at VV instead of Addition-Elle or Lands' End.

The trouble with living in a middle-class neighbourhood surrounded by more middle-class neighbourhoods is that you have to travel a long way to get to a second-hand store. My second-hand-shopping maven friend told me that the Value Village at Landsdown is the best one, so off I trekked. A bus trip (it was too hot to walk to the subway station) and a long subway ride (with a transfer!) later, I arrived at Landsdown. I can't comment on how nice the Landsdown area is, because it was 30 degrees today and there's a municipal strike on; I imagine every Toronto neighbourhood looked like shit today.

The Value Village at Landsdown is huge, it's like a small Zellers. I managed to find beautiful dresses for the girls to wear to the two weddings we're invited to this summer, and then I started shopping for myself.

How is it possible that I'm too fat to be a size 18 in the dress section, but too thin to be a size 20? (Also why are there so many ugly dresses? Did the Golden Girls Fan Club and Drag Show recently clean out its closet?) Further, how is it then possible that I can be too thin to be a size 18 in the pants section? How is it possible that there was only one cute dress that fit me, but dozens of sweaters and shirts? Do fat women not buy cute dresses? Or do they buy them and then hang on to them for dear life?

The most frustrating thing was how unevenly placed the sizes were; I found clothes that fit me (and many more that didn't) in the size 16, size 18 and size 20 sections. Some of those clothes had the original store size labels on, and the VV staff had faithfully placed the clothes in the section that matched the label. Which, of course, is a failure. I'm an XL at Cotton Ginny, a L at Tabi, and a 1X at Addition-Elle, but I don't fit into Reitman's XL, or really most other labels' XL. I'm a 16 pant at Lands' End and a 18 at Addition-Elle. So even if you do place clothes in the label-appropriate section, you won't get consistency in section sizes.

VV has a chance to correct the vagaries of women's clothing sizes; surely it would be simple to have a template in the back room against which staff could hold up each donated item of clothing, to sort it into the right bin. Even if you only picked one dimension—waist for pants, say, and bust for dresses—once you found the size that matched your body, you would be one variable closer to finding something that fit.

This was only my second VV trip, and I think I've decided it isn't worth it. It's a long trip to get there, it took me forever to find clothes to try on, I had to wait for a change room, and then only about fifteen percent of them fit. And after all that, of course, it's another long way to come home again. If there were a location nearer to here I might go again—they're opening some new locations, but I fear we are too embedded in Richville to ever get a thrift shop nearby.

After all that, I didn't even find a dress for myself to wear to the weddings. Tomorrow I will call the local consignment stores (without much hope) to see whether they carry my size. I expect I will end up going to Addition-Elle, which is no loss; I still have a good chunk of my birthday money left. (That's the great thing about VV: two sweaters, three shirts, one pair of pants, two pairs of earrings, a hat, and two kid's dresses for $70. Seriously!)