"Bonding with My Teen in the Baby Department"

My daughter came to me at nine years old, so neither of us knows what she looked like as a baby, but walking these aisles is a way for us to recreate what we both lost.

Browsing baby stores helps my adopted teen and I bond and talk about the years we missed out on as mother and daughter

I simply can’t walk past baby stores or infant departments without browsing the adorable clothing, toys, and other goodies. My daughter is in high school now, but I’m still pulled in every time, especially if I see a pink display.

My daughter and I were walking around our downtown area eating ice cream cones one day, and we were both drawn to the window of a new store—a baby boutique. The tiny mannequin in the display was wearing a onesie, frilly skirt, and pink tennis shoes. It was adorable! We sat on the bench across from the store to finish our ice cream and then went inside to look around.

We spent over an hour in that little shop. We looked at all of the clothes and I pointed out outfits that were similar to ones my daughter may have worn when she was a baby. We marveled at how soft the blankets were and gave several stuffed animals a cuddle. My daughter picked out the types of outfits she hopes to dress her own babies in one day. (She surprised me by picking very traditional pink bunny rabbit and blue sailboat patterns. I thought she’d go for a more rock-n-roll vibe.)

We do this often when we’re in department stores, or even getting groceries. My daughter is fascinated by the tiny gadgets and specialized tools. I explain what they are and how I would have used them to take care of her.

“I would have used these little containers to freeze the homemade baby food I made you.”

“This is how I would have tested the bathwater to make sure it wasn’t too hot for your delicate skin.”

“I’ve heard this is the best diaper cream. I would have used the very best on your little bottom.”

You see, my daughter was nine years old when she came to me. She spent most of her life bouncing around foster care before we found our way to each other. Neither of us know what she looked like or what her days were like as a baby, so walking these aisles is a way for us to recreate what we both lost.

She’s especially interested in the little nose sucker device. She says, “You would have actually used one of those to suck snot out of my nose? You must really love me!” I assure her that I would have used it and totally do love her.

She asks if I’ll suck the snot out of her baby’s nose, so she doesn’t have to. I tell her I’ll help her if she needs it, but I know she won’t mind doing it because she’s going to love her baby as much as I love her, snot and all.

I missed out on a lot of years with my daughter, yet she was still very much a little girl when she joined our family at age nine. She loved playing dress up and snuggling with me on the couch to watch Disney Channel.

Then I blinked and she was in high school.

We’ve had some deep discussions while walking the infant aisles. When she was ten, she gazed at a car seat and then asked, “How long do you think I’ll be able to keep my babies with me?” Her biological parents had been unable to care for her properly, so she thought she was destined for the same fate one day. I was able to tell her that that didn’t have to be her path, and together we were going to make sure it wasn’t.

Strong parental bonds are said to be an important indicator for a child’s future success. Good parent-child relationships give children the confidence for academic, social, and emotional development. They also help with self-esteem, responsibility, and compassion. Teens who have good relationships with their parents have lower incidences of drug and alcohol use, pregnancy, and dropping out of school.

Everyone says kids grow up too fast, but when their childhood is half over before you even meet them, it really speeds by. I’ve worked hard to build a strong relationship with my daughter despite our late start. We both wish we could have been together when she was a baby.

Baby stores bring my daughter and I closer together. They allow us to look toward the future and come to terms with the past at the same time.


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