mardi, novembre 28, 2006

Passages and rituals

Perhaps it's an evolutionary instinct that compels moms to worry about things that haven't yet occurred. I don't know how else to explain that for many years I've speculated about how I was going to share the "facts of life" with my daughter once her body started to change and mature. Remembering how my mom clued me in really wasn't a whole lot of help-first of all, I don't have very clear memories of it. Secondly, I was a shy and rather backwards child. The fact that the sexual revolution of the late 1960's was fermenting around me just drove me further into my shell-not to emerge until the hippies had gone back for their Wharton MBAs and had abandoned free love for PTA membership. My mother's attempt to enlighten met with little but hideous embarrassment on my part. I wish I'd asked her how she felt about talking to me. There are so many things I wish I'd asked my mom before she died. Without her here, I've had to muddle through on my own. Yet as my children have gotten older, I realized, with a measure of relief, that I am pretty good at straight talk. All the anatomical bits were given their Latin names, and the songs are the radio are examined for sexual content so that Sian will be aware (generally) of the kind of innuendo she is being exposed to. However, even a relatively relaxed mother like me cannot evade certain rituals. A week or so ago, I took Sian (and Colin, the poor kid) out to buy Sian her first bra. As we went through the mall, we developed a certain patter-we need to find the bra department, I would say as we walked through the china department towards the escalator. "Mom, you are embarrassing me," Sian would respond, playing her assigned role. "You mean body-plated armor" Colin groaned, wondered how on earth he'd been roped into this excursion. A child of great modesty, he turned a beauty magazine over in the bathroom because the cover had an artistically photographed, but definitely half-clothed woman on it. I could not imagine a 50's mom making the pilgrimage through Macy's in the same casually disorganized fashion that we did- we had a lot of fun. Now if I could only get Sian to stop sleeping in the bra so that I could wash it, I'd feel that we were truly launched in her great adventure towards womanhood-all in due time.

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