There was a time when ‘back to school’ meant nothing more than a new backpack and some crayons.
Today my daughter and I looked, and bought, some ‘undershirts’ as opposed to ‘training bras’ because she has reached that age where she needs to wear something under her sundresses and under her white t-shirts.
Her brother, blushing, rolled his eyes and turned around to try to ‘unsee’ the girl things we needed to accomplish while at the store. Being the pain I am, I explained to him this was a great learning experience about women and he needed to understand that his sister was growing up and she couldn’t be flashing the top half of her body to strangers.
After doing his best to squirm and avert his eyes from the display of training bras and bras for tweens, he actually agreed…
Well, boys look at those things. Yes Mom, I know, girls look too…you’re right, she needs to make sure she’s covered.
Hmmm…wait, Did he just call breasts ‘those things?’ And was this the message I wanted to send? That the women of the family had to cover themselves in order to be proper?
I stopped myself as we looked at undershirts and talked to them both as they again rolled their eyes and leaned against the cart.
It’s not that we want her to cover herself. We know being naked isn’t a big deal. And she’s beautiful. It’s just that in our society there are some people who will try to look at her inappropriately, just like we talk about private areas and who can see them and touch them…
Oh man, now I’m getting way off track. This is hard.
…and we’re just making sure her privates are covered as she wears certain things, that’s all.
This parenting stuff is ridiculous. I’m flunking this. Please God let this moment go away forever because right now it seems like nothing I say is right, or coming out right…or what I’m trying to convey. I’m just trying to buy her a few more undershirts, THAT IS ALL.
Then I glance up at the display in front of us. I hadn’t really studied it until now. Bras, training bras, what look like sports bras, undershirts. And then…what I swear to God are PADDED BRAS FOR LITTLE GIRLS.
My daughter is handing this like a champ.
Mom I already have that white one at home, so how about these pink and purple fun ones that are like half undershirts… and let’s go.
My son can’t get out of there quick enough and leads us to semi-safety where we have to then pick out underwear. This seems like nothing compared to bra-hell.
But I can’t keep my mind from going back to what I am pretty sure I just saw. Padded bras.
The Judy Blume years of my life come rushing back.
I was never in need of KLeenex. I developed well before any of the other girls and I had plenty to go around. A blessing and a curse for a young girl. The boys ogled and feared me. The girls hated me. All because I had big boobs.
My daughter isn’t built anything like I was at that age. But with any hope she’ll be able to talk to me about body image issues she may come across and we can giggle over the difference of being one of the girls who could give herself a black eye in gym class or one of the girls who was flat as a pancake.
I want, so badly, to ask the kids if they saw the bras hanging there. What they thought about them. But I know the agony this will cause my son, who is working through his prepubescent feelings. And I know it will only cause my daughter to think about it MORE, and her body MORE…which I don’t really want her to do just yet.
Not because she shouldn’t explore what’s going on with her body, or question why she needs to cover her nipples or any of those things…but because there is so so so much time in a woman’s life to worry about what we look like. To think about our breasts, our noses, our asses. If I bring up the padded bras, that just gets her thinking about it all. And I really don’t want her going down that road. Especially when I seem so ill prepared to discuss and help her young mind through all the bullshit.
Sigh. I just wanted to buy some crayons. A pack or two of pencils.
Instead I feel like I had this perfect opportunity in front of me to teach both of my kids about respect, beauty, and body image…and I stumbled and stammered and wished one of my son’s inventions had become a reality.
He has this idea for a hook up between our brains, so I can automatically give him all my knowledge and he doesn’t have to listen to me explain or make guesses when I can’t seem to phrase things in a way he can grasp.
I think the idea actually came out of Mom Nagging, but whatever. I’d take it right now.
I’d even wear a padded bra on my head ala Weird Science. Although, there is no way my very embarrassed son would.
We might have to give that invention a few more years.