Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Smooth operator

Sunday morning I called my mother to ask her a very serious, important question. I was honestly having a hard time making this decision and needed her Yoda-esqe wisdom. No, I'm not saying that my mother is short, green and wrinkly or anything or that she speaks with her predicates all jammed up in her subject or anything. But I needed her take on something:

Did she think it was okay to let Abby shave her legs?

Laugh if you want, but I really was tortured by this decision. She's not even 10!

God love that child, she inherited her mother's hairiness. I have always been under the impression/assumption that Native Americans have less body hair, but the smooth, tan Cherokee genes were obviously overtaken and beaten up by the loud, drunken, pasty Irish genes and I somehow turned out more of a Sasquatch than an indian princess. Abby was born hairy because I had to take hormones when I was pregnant with her. Or at least we blamed her sideburns and back hair on the hormones for awhile, but then the dark body hair stuck around and we could only blame well, me. Because her father has red hair.

Last year she came home from school reporting that some of the girls in her class were shaving their legs. She asked if she could, but I promptly poopooed the notion away, proclaiming that no daughter of mine would shave her legs before she was 11 because I was 11 when I started shaving and that was good enough for me. But then I sometimes forget that we don't live in 1984. The times they have a'changed. Not only have most of the girls in her class already begun shaving, but the majority of them also have boobs and one has started her period. It's definitely not 1984. It's 2006 - a time of hormonally charged everything and fast-maturing children.

So given the fact that my child is overly-hairy and the fact that obviously kids are more matured at age 9 than they used to be, this summer I started entertaining the thought of letting my not-quite-10 year old shave her legs. I didn't start this entertaining unprecipited. Oh no, the daily pleas were what did it. But the more I thought about it the more I thought - would it, paired with her blossoming potty mouth, lead her directly into a life of hard drugs, wild men and prison? Would shaving her legs only make her crave more smoothness and prompt her to shave her head? Or her sister's head? Or her chest? MY GOSH, the horrors that went through my head!

I chatted about the issue with Stacie, who herself had allowed her daughter to shave at age 10, and felt better about even mulling the idea over. I talked it over with Mr. Diva who said he didn't want to talk about it. Then asked Abby if she wanted to go play football. He's in denial that eventually she will become a young lady. With boobs.

So Sunday morning, mentally exhausted and finding myself more frequently seeking the vodka at 9am, I gave in and called my mother. And to be honest, I figured she'd vehemently yell NO into my ear and then threaten to call DHS and turn me in. Not that she's that mean. It's just that she's already against the mild curse words from my children and my own personal tattoos. And even though she thinks I'm a great parent, she worries about my parenting ideas from time to time. I figured she'd tell me that I was being ridiculous and I'd agree and then life would continue on its hairy way. But instead she said that if Abby's legs were that hairy and she was that self-conscious of them and if the majority of kids her age were doing it, then she said that she saw nothing wrong with allowing her to shave.

I picked the phone up off of the floor where I dropped it when I momentarily blacked out from the shock and as I picked up the phone I couldn't help but think back to when I was 11 and asking to shave and my parents refused, even though Mom had just made me a yellow polka dotted sleeveless dress and it looked like I was hiding Tina Turner under one arm and an army of troll dolls under the other. I was stunned at how becoming a grandparent changes a person's views on some issues.

She told me she'd just seen a thing on the Today show about "leveling the playing field" when it comes to your kids and being part of the crowd. She explained how, as I took it, you don't give in to peer pressure, you just kind of dent around peer pressure. I listened and took in the information and wished that she'd heard that story somewhere around oh, 1984 when I'd wanted to shave. And 1987. And 89..... Hell, my whole life. But what she said made sense and she obviously believed in what she was telling me, so I took that as a big ol' green light that I would not be chastised the next time Abby spent the night and Mom discovered she didn't have Ab's hairy legs to keep them both warm at night.

And that night with her little brother and sister watching excitedly, Abby, for the first time, removed the hair from her legs. I didn't take the plunge and turn her loose with a razor, but instead we tried Veet. I had tried it on myself first and wasn't that impressed. I mean, yeah, it says that legs stay smoother "twice as long" than with shaving, but well, for me that bumps up the time from 3 hours to 6. Stacie had said that it didn't work all that well on Shael, but I tried it anyway because I'd already bought it and can't justify spening $6 on a tube of stuff to remove hair from my own legs on a regular basis. Her cute pre-teen legs are worth a $2 hair removal session, but my varicose-veined legs are only worth a .35 Daisy razor.

She couldn't quit running her hands up and down her legs as I leaned on the side of her bed and talked to her before I tucked her in. I remember doing that the first time I shaved, too. There's never ever going to be a shave the rest of her life as smooth as that first one.

And as much as I debated the decision, there's probably not going to be a decision the rest of my life as easy as that one.


Jennifer said...

I loved your blog. So sweet. Our girls are growing up.. Cassidy wants you both to know she swears she does not shave her legs! But she would like to!

Queen Of Cheese said...

That got me to thinking about the first time I shaved, Grandpa used a whole box of band-aids trying to patch me back up before Grandma got home. I probably would have let her too, especially if the hair was noticeable. Abby isnt' really the type of kid who wants to do something to be cool, I doubt she would have asked unless it was very important to her.

Melessa Gregg said...

I started shaving my legs in 1984 too. And my mom made me use Nair. Natalie's not quite there yet, but I guess that will be one of our easier decisions. Yikes!

Cazzie!!! said...

""There's never ever going to be a shave the rest of her life as smooth as that first one.""
Amen!!! I was 9 when I first shaved my legs..and that feeling of smoothness has NEVER felt as good, for sure!! I used my dad's electric shaver. I did it after I had been taunted at netvall for having hairy legs..just as my mum had when she was little.
I say to myself, "I am not gunna let my girls shave their legs when they are 9 like I did"...but the truth is I will, because they both have hairy legs now already! Be they white hairs, nontheless, they surely will ask it... I am prepared :)

Stacie said...

Yay, Abby! I'm glad you let her take the plunge. You didn't add that the first few times Shael's legs got shaved, I did it for her because I just didn't trust her with a razor quite yet. She does good now. But, gosh, she's 12. Scary.

Shannon said...

YAY Abby!

And Brady keeps looking under his arms to see if he's getting any hair. How funny! He just can't wait.

Renee said...

What a great post! You should print this out so you have a hard copy for her when she grows up! She'll love reading your thoughts on this day.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, that's an easy one. Wait 'til she wants to go on birth control..."just to regulate her cycle", doncha know?
Mine is just begging for cartilage piercings for her 14th birthday next month.

Natalie said...

My youngest turned 10 in May & shaved her legs for the first time this summer. She told me she was embarrassed, and I relented. I didn't want her to feel self-conscious about it. That's the worst feeling!

She ran through the house saying that her legs felt smoother than paper afterwards. It was so cute! :)

Redneck Diva said...

Jennifer, if I had hair on my legs like Cassidy I'd NEVER have to shave!! She is LUCKY! Abby agrees.

Mrs. Coach, Abby's propensity to clumsiness (like her mother) led me to the Veet decision rather than a razor. She could do serious damage with something sharp.

You are correct about Abby. She is not one to go with the crowd for the sake of the crowd. She has her own mind, her own set of values and she sticks to them. One of her friends since Kindergarten did a drastic personality/value change last year and Abby said she didn't want to hang around with her anymore because she felt like her beliefs weren't the same. She wasn't mean about it, she didn't want to hurt the child, she just didn't want to hang around someone that went against everything she believed in. I love that kid.

Melessa, we should delight in these small decisions, yet we still panic. Let's try to remember how trivial these things are in a few years, okay?

Cazzie!!!, I considered her daddy's electric shaver, but figured the motor wasn't strong enough for all the hair on that child's legs!

Stacie, you are a wise woman. And from your wisdom I made my decision. You're a good friend. :) The Veet did a pretty good job on her really and just last night while we were swimming did I notice any stubble. We were hoping by a miracle the hair would grow back blonde, but no such luck. She's Sasquatch for life.

Shannon, Abby has about 6 fine, blonde hairs under her arms right now. I told her that she definitely didn't want to start shaving her armpits until she absolutely HAD to! What a pain!

Kelly, I have plans to put all of these endearing stories in a book for the kids. Someday they'll either hate me for sharing it with the world first or think I'm awesome.

Cedric, I will never have to make the birth control decision because my daughters are never going to have sex. Ever.

I have, however, promised a belly button piercing for them both when they turn 16, providing their grades stay good. I'd promise them tattoos, but the law forbids. So I'll work the system however I can. Now to figure out what the boy can have because I'm pretty sure his redneck father is going to put his foot down on a piercing of any kind.

Titanium, isn't it bittersweet how they're still so little yet so grown-up all at the same time? I love/hate it.

We....the people

Originally published in The Miami News-Record, July 2020 Everything is different now. I’m not just talking about masks and social distancing...