Tuesday, May 26, 2009
A Girl’s First Shave
I gave my twelve-year-old daughter her first razor today. Hot pink, with her name written in black with a Sharpie.
I recently recalled how I had taken a razor to my leg at the age of 11 without my mother’s permission. A boy had teased me at school about having hairy legs. In retrospect, I think he was just making a joke about my stockings being too dark, but I was so mad I decided to do something about it. I wound up shaving off a good portion of the skin on my foreleg. My mom knew immediately what had happened and just said I should have asked first.
So I figured I should let her know how to do it, in case she was ready.
“You can get away with not doing this for a while,” I say, “It’s up to you. Once you do it, there’s no going back. You’ll have to do it for the rest of your life.”
She eagerly takes in my advice as I demonstrate how to shave the lower leg with the covered razor. I use the phrase “be careful” several times.
“Use a lot of soap suds, and go gently,” I warn, “and you will probably cut yourself anyway, so have band-aids nearby.”
She took a shower much earlier than usual, and came back smelling like she’d used lots of soap suds. “Did you shave?” I ask.
“Yes,” she replies, beaming.
“Can I see?”
She shows me her lower leg and I feel it.
“Wow, it’s really smooth! Did you cut yourself?”
“Just my finger when I opened the razor,” she says, showing her battle scar, “I think I’ll put a band-aid on it.”
There we go, another rite of passage safely traversed.
Some mothers get really sad when they see their daughters growing up. I don’t know why this is. God gave us children so we can bring them up “in the way they should go, and when they grow old they shall not depart from it” (as the Proverb goes). Maybe if we’ve made peace with our own childhood it makes it easier to see our own progeny go through it. Whatever it may be, I see her growing up and think it’s all good.