My daughter breaks the mold. She cooks and cleans without being asked, she plays catch with her younger brothers and she made it clear through adolescence with nary an incident of “drama.” Plus, she’s kind to animals and small children.

But all this goodness comes at a price: She doesn’t like to shop.

Robin Conte is a writer and mother of four who lives in Dunwoody. She can be contacted at

Signs of The Flaw began to appear around the age of 5. My mother took her shopping and tried to buy her an adorable dress that had been marked down twice. As the story goes, my mother continued to coax her into the dress and finally relented, saying, “Sweetie, if I buy this for you, you won’t wear it, will you?”

“No, grandma,” my daughter replied with a shake of her head, “and that will be your punishment.”

Your punishment?! My stars, child! Have I taught you nothing about gift horses?

Apparently not.

I still have to bribe her to buy clothes, even now that she’s grown into a long-legged, model-sized coed. “Here, honey, get this dress, it looks fantastic on you! If you let me buy this for you, I won’t ask you to let me buy anything else for you for the rest of the year! I promise!”

It’s no fun at all.

Plus, I can’t take her shopping with me — it’s like shopping with a 62-year-old man. She’s kind of a killjoy.

“Honey, how do like this dress on me?”

“It’s great. How much is it?”

“Sweetie, that’s not a question you need to ask. Do you like it?”

“When would you wear it?”

“You don’t understand clothes shopping at all, do you? How about these pants?”

“Don’t you already have black pants?”

“Yes, but dear, but that’s not the point.”

She doesn’t understand that having only one pair of black pants is like having only owning one Mumford & Son’s song. “Little Lion Man” sounds an awful lot like “I Will Wait,” but I still want them both.

Worse than that, The Flaw stymies her sense of color and fashion. She doesn’t get that she can have the black pumps and the navy slingbacks — they don’t cancel each other out. To make matters more frustrating, she wears a size 8 shoe, that template of shoes, that size that every possible design comes in, so she has a dizzying array of choices, while I on the other hand, who gets all tingly and teary-eyed over a great pair of shoes, wear a size 5.

We’ll walk into a DSW, she’ll make a beeline for the sales racks in the back of the store, and there will be rows upon rows of size 8s. I need to stop and eat a small snack by the time I’ve found my way clear of the 8s and into the 7s. Even then, I can only find the size 5s by scouting around until I see a small clump of tiny women huddled over a purple shoe.

That’ll be where I discover the quarter of a row that holds a meager two shelves of size 5 shoes (which are mixed together with the 4s and the 5 1/2s by the way) and they are all made of fur.

Meanwhile, my daughter has a choice between 13 different styles of tan wedges, and she doesn’t buy any of them.

There is no fairness in the world.

So, we return home from a typical shopping spree with a pair of size 8 black flats, size 5 zebra-patterned slippers, and my fourth pair of black pants. Then I’ll retire to the den to nurse my headache, and my daughter will get dinner started.

Robin Conte

Robin Conte lives with her husband in an empty nest in Dunwoody. To contact her or to buy her new column collection, “The Best of the Nest,” see