Hair Revisited

I seriously do not remember talking about body hair this much when I was in Middle School. Certainly not with male friends. A different generation. A different time. A different girl. This post recounts another recent conversation Jane had with the two boys, Brad and Chris, who questioned her lack of arm shaving in Hair.

This time, it wasn’t her arms. It was her legs. When she started begging to shave so many years ago, I made the same argument that many moms make: Once you start, you have to keep doing it. You don’t get to stop. And you’ll get tired of it, trust me. Well, I was right on the last point, but dang it if she didn’t prove me wrong on the first point.

During home room, Jane placed her foot on the table so that she could retrieve a piece of paper she had tucked into one of her tall Nike socks. (Remember what I said about a different time? When I was young, the only people who wore tall black socks while wearing shorts were old men who completed the ensemble with sandals. Now, it’s the cool look.)

Anyway, as she extracted the paper, Brad exclaimed, “Oh, man, Jane! You’ve got REALLY hairy legs! You’ve got more hair on your legs than I do!”

“You know, Brad, that’s really not good,” she responded, referring to his apparent lack of manliness. “Seriously though, when you shave it grows back darker and thicker.”

“Uh-huh. Sure it does.”

Jane responded with a dismissive shrug.

Chris asked the inevitable follow-up question to their previous discussion: “I thought you said you shave your legs.”

“I do… On Sundays… Sometimes… If I feel like it… If I’m not being too lazy.” She shrugged again.

The boys continued to harass her, making every attempt to embarrass her or hurt her feelings. At this point, she was laughing so hard that she could barely speak.

“Seriously, guys. I couldn’t care less what you think about my legs. Seriously. I couldn’t. Care. Less.”

To be honest, I’m not sure what I was more proud of: her bold self-confidence or her proper use of “couldn’t care less” over the often-used “could care less.” The perfect mix of father and mother.

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Hair

Jane’s Stardusters dance lessons started this week. She danced with a boy named James. The next day, a boy named Brad told her that James had told him that Jane had really hairy arms.

Jane looked dismissively at Brad and plucked at the hairs on her arms. “James is ridiculous. It’s just hair. Everyone has hair on their arms.”

“Why don’t you shave them?” asked Chris, the other boy she hangs out with in her home room.

“Nobody shaves their arms!”

“I thought girls were supposed to,” he said, starting to get a bit apprehensive.

“No! Girls aren’t supposed to shave anything. We just choose to.”

This reminded me of my best friend in middle school who hadn’t started shaving yet. One day, a boy approached her on the playground and asked why she didn’t shave her legs.

Without a bit of hesitation, she shot back, “Why don’t you?!”

The boy was taken aback and hurried away. I was always in awe of her for that. I would have melted in embarrassment and probably cried about it once I got home. I would have done the same thing in Jane’s scenario. But neither Jane nor my friend were the least bit embarrassed.

I thought about telling James’s mom about his comment. Not all girls are as resilient when it comes to these kinds of comments going through the ranks of boys. But, no. I’m fairly certain that that would embarrass Jane.

Grammar Mom

Jane, sitting on our bed, braiding her hair. “Daddy, I need to teach you to braid hair. So you can braid Jennifer and I’s hair together.”

“Why would I do that?”

“It’s a thing. I’ll show you.”

I looked up from my game of Candy Crush and said, “You aren’t going to do it until you can say it correctly.”

“Jennifer and… my’s hair.”

“Nope, not it.”

“Me and Jennifer’s hair.”

“Nope.”

“Jennifer and me’s hair?”

“Nope.”

“There’s nothing left!”

“Not true.”

“Then what else can it be?”

“Do you make ‘my’ possessive by adding an apostrophe S or is it already possessive?”

“Jennifer and my hair.”

“There you go!”

But the thing is, I wasn’t sure that was right. I knew it was more right than her mangled attempts, but that didn’t make it right. I pondered it the next day and even discussed it with some coworkers.

When I got home, I renewed the discussion.

“Honey, I’m not sure that it should be ‘Jennifer and my hair’. It might actually be ‘Jennifer’s and my hair’.”

“I think me and Jennifer’s sounds better.”

“No! That sounds hideous! Don’t say it like that.”

“I’m A-murr-ican. We don’t talk right.”

“I don’t care. I want you to speak well. The best thing to do, really, is to phrase it differently because even the right way sounds strange. You should probably say, ‘Jennifer and I would like you to braid our hair together’.”

I’m pretty sure she’s unconvinced, so this topic will undoubtedly come up again. It might take more work than breaking her of saying she got “an a hundred” on a paper, but it’ll be worth it. I think she loves having me as her mother. I mean, she gets to have discussions that other children wouldn’t even dream of having. How cool is that?

Some Hairy Beast

One of my children had just completed their shower and was approaching me in another room.

“Mommy, I think I need to start shaving.”
“No you don’t. You are too young.”
“No I’m not! Just look at me! I’m getting so hairy and it’s even worse when I’m dry!”
“Nobody shaves their arms, Daryl, and men don’t shave their legs.”
“WHAT??!! Are you serious?! I’m just supposed to turn into some hairy beast?! I could become a whole new species of animal!”

The concerned child was my eight year old son. I had my back to him when he began speaking. I thought he was referring to an area that he would most likely shave at some point: his face. My natural response was Really? That baby face? You’ve got to be kidding me! So I was more than a bit surprised to turn around and see him, not rubbing his chin, but holding his wet arm up near his face and rubbing the fine blond hairs around.

I don’t think he even heard me ask “Have you seen your father?” He was too busy ranting about his pending metamorphosis into a hairy beast, which actually isn’t that far from reality if he takes after his father. My husband’s chest hair rivals that of Tom Selleck. And his beard, I’m not exaggerating, would put ZZ Top to shame. I just measured it at 18 inches from his chin. Not too long ago, he cut 8 inches to even it out, which was necessary after an encounter with an electric drill removed a chunk of it. He now routinely ties it in a knot to keep it out of his way. And he deftly tucks it under his shirt to eat.

I guess I should assure my son that he will not become a new species of animal, even if he does become a hairy beast. His father already beat him to it.