IF you're planning a mother and daughter shopping trip to buy clothes for your 13-year-old daughter I have one just word to say to you - "don't".
Don't do it. Spare yourself the aggravation, frustration and humiliation. Stay at home and order something from a catalogue, preferably something that comes in a bottle.
While I acknowledge my little girl is growing up and can't be expected to go through life in pastel pink Barbie dresses and shiny patent shoes with pretty lace-edged socks forever, I'm also not comfortable with the idea of her parading around in outfits that look like they need to be accessorised with 10 tattoos, a Harley Davidson and a parole officer.
Naturally our disastrous shopping trip had been preceded with the universal call to shop.
It's a call that can be heard echoing over every continent in every language. From the hills of Hollywood to the snowy slopes of Siberia and over the sands of the Sahara it's always the same call - "I've got nothing to wear".
Think about it. You don't honestly think those Bedouin women have been traipsing over the Sahara desert all these years chasing goats, do you? No way. Those ladies got the inside info there was a discount shopping outlet somewhere out there and they're not leaving until they find it.
No one more than me understands that primal consumer urge to shop and to revel in retail.
Give me a flashing red light, a bargain rack and a sale and I'm there. But even my firmly long-held belief of "you can never shop too long or too hard" was shaken after a session at the shops with my youngest last week. It's fair to say the only thing we agreed on was where to park the car.
As we walked into the first shop the first thing my darling child did was hiss, "Don't embarrass me mum". Embarrass? Me? That's rich coming from a child who until the age of four used to pee in her pusher or have a digit stuck up her nose each time we went shopping.
By the third store the tension had kicked up a few notches so, to ease the situation (yes, we had ourselves a "situation" by this stage) I took a deep breath, took a hanger off the rack, held it up near her and said, "This is nice, it would look great on you".
"Mum, you're embarrassing me."
What was she talking about? "Embarrassing" would be me running around swinging my knickers over my head. All I did was make a wardrobe suggestion.
Of course everything the stick thin, mono-syllabic, gum-chewing, green eye-shadow wearing young sales assistant suggested was gospel.
That girl could have held up a garbage bag (at one point I thought she had) and my youngest would have jumped at it.
Just as my little fashionista was about to follow the stick insect to a rack of misshapen, overpriced, under styled tops I reminded her in my own hissy voice that "It's my wallet paying for this so that also buys me the right to make the odd suggestion or comment and I would really appreciate it if you would just try on that dress".
"Well, I'd rather die than wear that dress."
Oh the irony. She had no idea how close she was to getting her wish.