I used to be one of those people who would bemoan that her children were growing up. You know, saying things to them like: “where did my baby go?” and “when did you get so big?” I read somewhere that this can sometimes make kids feel guilty about doing something that they are supposed to do (and isn’t in their control anyway): grow up.
Then it occurred to me, that no one ever really helped me figure out how to become a woman. I mean, sure, there’s the inherent womanness of being female, but no one wanted me to be anything but a girl. My parents didn’t want me to grow up “too fast,” which I, of course, rebelled against. So, I would take my allowance to the Longs Drugs down the street to buy the teen magazines that became my user manuals and age-appropriate makeup (thank you, Debbie Gibson and Revlon!)
It always felt like I was sneaking around, though, probably because I was. I might have had the makeup, but I was certainly not allowed to wear it. I had already mastered the art of wearing my headgear as little as possible in the Fourth grade, so how hard could a little makeup be in middle school? (See also: #latchkeykidproblems)
And once high school and my first job came around, it was a breeze hiding clothes (hello striped bodysuit and spandex skirt from Contempo Casuals) and, um, other recreational activities to come from my parents. And I seemed drawn to people whom my folks’ would likely refer to as “the fast crowd;” my peers who were allowed to wear makeup and somehow knew how to flirt with boys whereas I hadn’t the first clue.
So maybe it should be no wonder that I often feel very much girl in a good many situations: I faked my way into womanhood. And it was a journey that I felt I had to hide from the most important people in my life, as if it was something shameful, when it is actually just what nascent beings do.
Now, don’t misunderstand; I, too, don’t want my kids to grow up too fast. But the fact is, growers gonna grow (grow, grow, grow, grow) and who am I to stand in their ways? So someone please remind me, when the day arrives that Miss Thang wants to shave her legs, wear makeup, and dress like the latest pop star, that I will take her for a makeover and shopping spree, no questions asked.
In the meantime, I will praise my kids for doing that which they do involuntarily and I will be their champion. Like just the other day, when one of the Mayor’s preschool teachers expressed sorrow in seeing how big both kids are getting. I turned it on its head (the comment, not the teacher) saying, “I know, isn’t it great?! They’re just so good at it!”