As Seen On The Bathroom Wall

The best ideas come while sitting on the pot.

Hairy situation

I have an eight year-old daughter who is a beautiful, funny, smart, quick-witted child. She's friendly - almost to a fault - and she loves to read. She is, quite simply, a fantastic child. So, you can imagine how difficult it was for me to hear her say to me one day in a distressed voice, "Mommy, can I start shaving my legs?"

"Why?" I asked, knowing that her legs are quite hairy but never seeing that as being a problem since she is, after all, only eight.

"Because two of my friends at school tease me about it," came her reply.

Initially I thought to tell her to ignore the teasing since it is par for the course when you're a child: you get teased, you tease others, you laugh, share milk, and run around on the playground.

But then I thought to ask another question. "What do they say?"

"They said that I need to shave my legs, and if I don't shave my legs then I'm 'butchy'."

Well, this changes things. Eight year-olds using the term "butchy" is quite unnerving, especially since they're the ones who explained to my eight year-old what that term meant (to them). That, of course, wasn't the worst of it. No. See, I then led my questioning down its natural path and wound up with this final one: "Do they shave their legs?"

"Yes."

Call me floored. Call me shell-shocked, dumbfounded, flustered, and quite simply dismayed. Eight year-old little girls...shaving their legs?

WHY?

I quickly went into damage control mode then, because let's face it, being a girl is one of the toughest things one can be. There are so many outside influences that alter and mutate our own self-perception. My daughter, who's cared little to nothing about how she looked on the outside, has suddenly become self-conscious of parts of her body that are inconsequential to who she is as a person. Immediately, I told her that eight is far too young to be shaving one's legs, regardless of how much hair is on there, or what their so-called friends might have to say about it.

I also told her, in no uncertain terms, that not shaving one's legs doesn't make one "butchy", and that term isn't to be used again by her because it's insulting. I then lifted the leg of my pants and showed her my own hairy gams and asked her if she thought that what her friends had described fit me in any way. She shook her head and laughed, then asked why I didn't shave.

"Because I don't care what other people think about what I look like. Mommy doesn't need someone else to tell me that my legs are hairy to know that they are, just like Mommy doesn't need someone else to tell me that my legs are nice to know that they are. What other people say isn't as important as how you feel about yourself. Shaving your legs won't make you a better person. Those girls shave their legs but it hasn't made them any nicer, now has it?"

She shook her head and gave me a somber "No." It broke my heart then because I was witnessing the realization within her that these girls she thought were her friends were exactly the type of people she did not want to be around. It was a heartbreaking thing to witness, especially after seeing the hurt in her eyes just moments earlier, but it was one that she needed to experience. At eight, you're so optimistic about everything, and you want to believe that everyone is nice, or that everyone can be, and so when it turns out that that's not the case, it can be a tragedy of sorts and all I wanted to do was take my little girl into my arms and hug her and tell her that if shaving her legs would make her happy then she could do it until the cows came home.

Instead, I took her into the bathroom, handed her my Venus razor and shaving cream and stuck out my hairy leg. She looked at it like it was some kind of scary science experiment, one that would be messy, dangerous, and fraught with complications. Which, if you're an eight year-old girl, is exactly the kind of science experiment you want to do. So she went to work, and after three cuts to my ankle, a muffled g-rated curse from me, a sasquatchy-looking blob of foam attacking her hand, and a rather long four minutes of tongue - and nail - biting concentration and suspense filled silence, she's come to the conclusion that shaving is simply too complicated to get into right now.

"I think I'll wait until I'm Hannah Montana's age to start shaving," she announced emphatically, her foamy, hairy hands waving in defeat at the remaining acreage of hair left remaining on my legs.

"That's my girl," I said, smiling. "Now go get Mommy the first-aid kit."


Aloha!

3 Comments:

  1. Susie said...
    I love how you turned those lemons into lemonade, Shar. Great lesson.
    Domestic Spaz said...
    I also have a hairy 8 year old daughter! :) She hasn't asked me to shave just yet... but the day could smack me in the face at any time. I love how you handled it.

    I nominated you for a little award for blogs I recently discovered. And I discovered you while trying to nominate people.
    Shirley said...
    I love you, Sharon! You're an amazing mom and person!

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