Hairy Spiders

My ten year old son shaved his arms yesterday.  For those of you that were around two years ago, this event might remind you of the last time he worried over his hairy arms.  If you weren’t, you might check out that story.  It sets the stage well for this one.

Despite his third grade concern about turning into a “hairy beast”, I was still taken aback yesterday.  He approached me and said, “Hey, mom.  Feel this.”  I rubbed the proffered arm and blinked in shock at the perfect smoothness awaiting me.  He smiled proudly.

“Did you shave your arms?!”  I asked.

“Yep!”

“You really shouldn’t have done that.  Come here,” I said, leading him to our bedroom where Jane and my husband were.

“Daryl shaved his arms,” I said.  His Daddy, never one for any sort of societal conventions or expectations, smiled.  I glared at him.

“Wait,” Jane said, “Did you use my razor?”

“No.  There were three razors in there.  I used the blue one.”

“That one was mine!  You used my razor?!”

“Why did you shave your arms?” I asked.

“Because I looked like a spider!”

“No, you didn’t.  You looked like a normal human.”

“No!  I looked like a hairy spider.”

“People have hair on their arms, Daryl.  Look.  See my arm?” I asked, showing him my arm.

“You people are missing the most important problem here!” Jane interjected. “He. Used. My. Razor!”

“Daryl,” I said.  “You don’t want to shave your arms.  Unless you are wanting to join the swim team, that is.  You have to keep doing it.  It’s a pain.  And the hair will grow back darker.  Please don’t do it again.”

“Is anyone listening?  He used my razor!”

“But it feels so good!  Feel it!”

“Yeah, ok,” I said.  “But you wanna know what it’s going to feel like tomorrow?”

“What?”

I took his hand and walked over to my husband.  I rubbed my son’s hand on his father’s stubbly shaved-the-day-before face.  “Like that.”

“What?!  Why?”

“Because hair grows back, honey.  That’s what hair does.  Jane, keep your razor in your room if you don’t want him using it.”

“Great,” she said.  “Now I’ll never shave again.  Because I won’t think about shaving until I’m already in the shower but then my razor will be in my bedroom.”

The conversation meandered on to Jane’s inconsistent shaving habits.  It was humorous and we all enjoyed the joking around, but I can’t remember the details now.  I guess I was in too much shock to take in much beyond the fact that my son approaching puberty decided his arms were too hairy and took action on it.

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How Pokemon Do It

As I was preparing to leave the house this morning, I heard my husband and eldest son talking in the bathroom. Actually, Daryl was the one doing all the talking until my husband called out, “Honey! You need to come here.”

When I entered the room, he looked at me, his eyes dancing with amusement, and said, “You’ve got to hear this.” And then turning to Daryl, “Go ahead and tell her about how Pokemon make babies.”

“Well, you see,” he began, oblivious to the silent conversation and innuendo taking place in the room around him, “if you want to make a new Pokemon, you take two of them and put them in this Day Care. It has to be one boy and one girl.”

I raised my eyebrows at my husband at the mention of Day Care. His eyes twinkled and he nodded an I know. Right? look.

“And the breeder says…”

My husband interrupted him. “Tell her where the breeder is.”

“The breeder is outside the Day Care. And he says that if the two Pokemon like playing with other Pokemon more than the other one, then there won’t be an egg. But if they like to play with each other more than anyone else, then there might be an egg!”

His voice rose gradually in excitement as he approached the end of his explanation. My husband nearly spewed his toothpaste as he rinsed his mouth. He looked at me and said, “Can you believe that? Can you? I mean, the ‘breeder’ is hanging out in an old beat up Dodge van outside the day care and…”

“He’s not really in a Dodge van, is he? Please tell me he’s not actually waiting in a van.”

My husband laughed as he walked out of the room and my son, delighted that we were enjoying his story but a little befuddled at what was amusing us so much, said, “No, he’s not in a van. He’s just standing out there. And I’ve got two Espurrs. They are the same level and both are psychic type, so I just know they like playing with each other more! They are in the Day Care right now and I hope I get an egg!”

My husband called back from the next room, “Just make sure you teach your Pokemon about Stranger Danger, ok?”

I started to add “And safe sex” but then realized 1) the Pokemon are trying to make an egg so safe sex is actually not what they are after and 2) looking at the innocent expression of excitement on my son’s face, I knew that he was not connecting this little feature of his video game with his limited understanding of “sex”.

Thinking of telling my son that he needs to have “the talk” with his Pokemon reminded me that it’s just about time for us to have “the talk” with our fourth grader. You would think that it being our second time to sing this song, I’d be just fine with it. But I’m not. And I don’t think I’ll be ready for round three when it comes up either. It’s not so much the subject matter as it is the recognition that my little boy is rapidly becoming not-a-little-boy. And while I cherish the changes and the young man he is becoming, I mourn the loss of all that was.

UPDATE: The next day, my son informed me that one of the Espurrs was holding an egg. He looked like a proud grandpa indeed.

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.

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.

1-10, Honestly

I volunteered to mentor my daughter’s Robotics team this year. This means I spend an hour and a half in a room full of noisy, energetic preteens three nights a week. It has been… an education. To say the least.

One of the interesting aspects of this age group (sixth grade) is that they are on the balance point between childhood and the teenage years. Some of them, mostly girls, look – and act – very much like teenagers. Some of them, mostly boys, look – and act – very much like my third grade son. Most of them are caught in between. They are exploring the brave new world of teendom in a distinctly childlike manner.

One example of this was on display tonight. The other girl on Jane’s team began to ask one of the boys on the team a series of questions. Actually, it was the same question asked repeatedly but with a different girl’s name substituted in each time. Apparently, this is a regular team pastime.

“1-10, honestly. How pretty do you think Rachel is?”

He would turn and look, I presume at Rachel, and respond with a number. She would move on to the next girl. And then the next. He kept most of the numbers low, less than 5. Eventually, she spied Jane. “1-10. Jane.”

She was across the room behind him and as he turned to look, I gave a mock warning, “Now, remember. Her mother is sitting right here.”

He paused for another second and responded, “7.”

She accepted the answer and moved on. Once all the girls in the room had been covered, she changed the question. “1-10. How annoying do you think Rachel is?” Not surprisingly, the numbers were higher for this question.

Eventually, the question was applied to Jane. Without hesitation, he said, “2.”

WHAT? Are you kidding me?” I asked. “This is ‘annoying’, right? Do you really think Jane is only a 2?”

“Well, her mother is sitting right here,” he responded in a dead serious voice.

I have to say that I’m truly growing to love these kids. He seemed a little bit surprised that I would recognize that my daughter contains great capacity to get on people’s nerves. He and Jane had butted heads the previous week while I was helping another team. I looked at him and asked, “You certainly would have ranked her much higher last week, wouldn’t you?” He agreed.

The game went on among all four team members present. It even included hypotheticals, like this one, addressed to a boy, “If you were a girl, who in this room would you score a ten?”

Jane jumped in before he could answer. “Me, of course!”

“I said if he was a girl!”

“I know. I’m just so awesome that he’d be gay so he could still pick me.”

Everyone laughed, including the one young man who actually happened to be working on the robot at that moment. Tonight I saw clearly what my greatest blessings will be for this year of my daughter’s life. One is to see her “in action” with her peers, to truly see her social circle, not just listen to her talk about it. The other is to find my place as a parent who is comfortable interacting with my daughter’s peers. And to think I almost passed up this opportunity as too much of a time commitment. 1-10, honestly? This experience has been a ten.