I am on an emergency and ultimately fruitless run for 30×34 chinos, BabyTron blasting, coming to a full and complete stop before every right on red. My car sports a safety yellow “please be patient student driver” sticker. My 16-year-old son is not driving tonight because he wants to blast music, but he’s a terrible driver so I do the driving when he wants to blast music. I’m about as good a driver as they get. BabyTron is a paradox. He raps over the Star Wars theme song, which I say sounds dumb until I realize the lyrics are a mélange of standard misogynistic rap lyrics and thematically consistent Star Wars references like “fly it like a X-wing, bitch I’m Mr. pull up to the bank and make the check ping.” The whole thing just kind of works. It’s a mixed bag that when I look interested and ask questions I am rewarded with more BabyTron.
We discover that Old Navy doesn’t actually carry 30×34 chinos. We collect a pile of 30×32 and a pile of 32×34 hoping that one of them will work. We also hold up a lot of other sizes and laugh at them and make jokes about fat people and tell each other to stop it. He tells me to get lost when I try to lurk outside the changing room, and then proceeds to open the door and call my name to demo the fit of each pair. They all look bad. His proportions, pretty standard at 16, are rarely found among adult men and therefore not catered to by many retailers. We will just have to order online and cross our fingers they come in time.
I check my phone to see what other stores at this mall might carry 30×34 chinos and come up with nothing. We order some gyros from the place across the street and decide to kill a few minutes in the Marshall’s next door. The bright spot tonight is that he also pretty emergently needs another pair of dress shoes and we happen upon a pair that he actually likes in a warm brown leather, size 10.5, on crazy sale for $25. We are feeling pretty proud about the shoes, since we both figured we would have to ruin tomorrow morning addressing the shoes problem. Keenan signed up for this conference two months ago and in that time neither my husband nor I have found the time to prioritize taking our 16-year-old to the mall for a few extra sets of dress clothes. This is because we both equate the mall with the tenth circle of hell and try to manipulate each other into going by doing thinly veiled maneuvers like starting to cook dinner and being all “I’m already cooking dinner, why don’t you take him?” We have also proven too lazy to just order online, which isn’t exactly a high bar and so is kind of embarrassing and sad.
It is Friday night. I had a little freakout about the chinos and the shoes driving home from work and concluded that I am solidly in the top ten worst moms of all time ever. When I got home from work I discovered my son at his desk, researching Irish nationalism for a History paper that is due in a month. His little brother was at a friend’s house and his dad was grading papers. He hadn’t made any social plans because he was worried that he wouldn’t have enough time to do his soul-crushing volume of homework over the weekend. He is in some ways perfect. I told him to stop it, to get in the car and crank some tunes.
We are back in our small white car with the safety yellow “please be patient student driver” sticker on the back and he has the take-out on the floor between his legs and he keeps letting it tip over. Now we have a back and forth with the volume since the shit he is playing has gotten even worse. This is the first time I have really relaxed all week and I do not want it to end. I do not want to imagine a world without BabyTron, a world without tonight’s urgency for chinos. I want him to stay in this car with me forever. I reach out and he holds my hand. We both let go when the takeout tips over again.
Felicity Billings is a full-time doctor and a full-time mom. She loves finding the beauty in tiny passing moments.