Wednesday, September 22, 2010

training bras

My oldest daughter R got a bra yesterday.

You’re probably thinking tmi but hang in there. There is a reason for my overshare.

Poor R. The youngest in her class, the biggest tomboy EVER, and she gets boobs before any other girl in 5th grade. (well, there is one but she’s a full year older.) Needless to say this was not a happy “development” in our family.

The good news: her best friend M, one of those concave-chested girls, is dying for breasts and leapt at the chance to go shopping and try on bras “just to see what it’s like”. God love M. What could have been a very teary trip to K-mart (killer training bras, btw) turned into a funny, exciting adventure. While R and I investigated the sports bra area looking for the tightest, most t-shirt-like boob smasher/binder, M and my 4-year-old F, headed for the “real” bras, gravitating to the most flashy, styrofoam-like cups they could find. B, my middle daughter, did her middle-child part running back and forth—consoling, offering commentary, eager to make everything nice.

We left with 4 very plain boob diminishers and 2 adorable 30AA boob creators. All 4 girls “dressed up” in bras when we got home.

OK, so where am I going with this? Well, I started thinking about my own first bra and the shopping trip. It was just me and my mom and although it wasn’t a terrible experience it was a bit uncomfortable. Although I had a good relationship with my mom—and a great one now—I didn’t like talking to my mom about private things; it was embarrassing, unnatural. Things were just a lot less open back then.

This got me thinking of how much healthier these conversations are today. I don’t think I've ever seen my mom naked, but since I tend to walk around in my underwear at home my girls have seen just about all of me. I think—hope—that this has made them feel OK about their own bodies. I try to set an example: this is what a woman’s body looks like, no big deal. They ask me questions I would never dreamed of asking my mother. Occasionally the questions are inappropriate and I tell them so but for the most part I’m honest and open and I think this is good. Which is kind of unusual for me.

For the most part, I tend to see their childhood in less than ideal terms compared to mine. I worry that kids today grow up to fast. I hate the loss of innocence, the 10-going-on-20 attitude. I don’t like most of the tv shows a lot of kids watch, the amount of “stuff” they have. I think the computer and other screens take away from the books and imagination-building games I had to come up with. Although they are basically good girls, I don’t like the way my kids talk back and challenge me.

In all this worry and comparison, I’ve missed a benefit to their growing up in 21st century: the emotional connection I have with my girls (and the one they have with their stay-at-home-Dad). They can talk to me in a way that I never could with my mother. I know when one of my daughters is upset. I can read her behavior and take her to a quiet room and get her to tell me what’s wrong. They talk back but that can be part of an open dialogue (right?). Yes, we argue over the stupidity of “Jake and Josh” but it is a conversation and kids are entitled to opinions and (a limited amount) of inane tv.

I’ll never like everything about childhood today but I can say this: when R noticed her breasts growing and was upset about it, I knew. She showed me and we talked about it. She was able to tell me that she didn’t like the changes in her body. So I told R that I had hated getting my period but it was OK after awhile. I never told my mom this.