Middle School Chic“Oh, yessss!” my daughter squealed a couple of weeks ago, flinging down her phone. “Izzy A. just texted that tomorrow we’re all dressing up as VSCO girls! Love it! Gonna pass it on! Sksksksk!”

I stared at her with my head cocked the way my dog looks at me when he understands the tone of my voice but not the meaning of my words.

And it was for exactly the same reason: I could tell my daughter was happy, which isn’t rare but, in the height of middle school drama, is fleeting, but I had absolutely no idea what had just come out of her mouth.

“What is ‘visco’?” I asked innocently.

“Mom. Duh. It’s a photo app.”

“How do girls dress up like a photo app? I don’t understand.”

Up till now, I felt pretty cool, y’all. I mean, I didn’t use SnapChat myself, but I work at a high school and can design a SnapChat filter! I put memes in student emails I send because kids love memes! I don’t often use teen slang terms because I know I would sound ridiculous asking someone to “spill the tea,” but I know what it means! I can send a GIF in a text! I’ve even explained pop culture things to Ruby (telling her to stop saying “Netflix and chill” in front of older teens, for example). And yet here I was, begging for answers like … well … like a middle-aged mom.

“VSCO is an aesthetic, Mom. It’s a photo app, but it’s also how people look on that app. They all have big shirts and checkered Vans and scrunchies, and they have Hydro Flasks covered with stickers.”

So help me God, I asked the dorkiest question: “A hydro flask? You mean a water bottle?”

“MOM! No. A Hydro Flask. It’s a brand. It has to be a Hydro Flask.”

Since that day several weeks ago, I have educated myself on VSCO girls. I even read an article on the topic in the New York Times Style section  and can, like a wind-up doll, repeat several key VSCO catchphrases, including, “Save the turtles,” and “And I oop! Sksksksk!” (I do not actually say these things in the course of my daily life. I say them solely to aggravate my daughter.)

I have also loaned out at least $30 to fund the purchase of a Hydro Flask and stickers for same, as well as cover the difference between the last of Ruby’s carefully hoarded birthday money and an expensive pair of checkered Vans.

In the end, my child, with her scrunchies and her stickered water bottle and her friendship bracelets and her high-tops … looks almost exactly like I did in middle school.

We weren’t copying a photo app, but we were copying pictures we saw in Seventeen and YM and the short-lived but fantastic Sassy.  

My daughter would probably roll her eyes if I told her this. “Magazines? Like on actual paper? God, you must have hated the environment.”

When she says things like this, I have to remind myself that she is mere weeks away from being a teenager, and I am a mere year away from being in my 40s, and the truth is that she is cooler than I am, and also I would not trade places with her for anything in the world.

I might be boring with my special orthotic sandals and khakis and omnipresent can of LaCroix … but at least no one can make me go back to middle school.