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The Hairy Truth: Winning My Daughter's Heart

August 13, 2011

OK. Hold it like this. Apply just enough pressure, like when you’re writing. And be very careful around your ankles and knees – those tend to nick very easily. Start at your ankle and go up slowly. Good. There you go…”

Holy schmoly. I can’t believe we’re at this point. I am sitting on the edge of the bathtub teaching my daughter to shave her legs. How in the ever-loving world did I get to this point so quickly? Was she not yesterday learning to walk on her chubby, sweet, squeezable little legs? And now she’s shaving them?

Was it not yesterday that she was skipping off to her kindergarten class in her little pink Gymboree socks and tennis shoes and pigtails?

And today she is sitting next to me on the bathtub, holding a razor and a can of shaving cream?

What’s next? (Rhetorical question. Please don’t answer.) I am well aware that this is the ushering in of teenagerhood. And I’m not sure I’m quite ready for it.

But the good news is that she did great. With the shaving. She got one teensy tinesy nick on the back of her knee, and she missed a few spots and had to go back over them later, but overall the first leg shaving experience was a success. She was so proud of herself, and I was proud of her.

(Stunned, but so proud.)

While I sat next to her, guiding her with 25 years of shaving experience behind me, she took this lethal weapon disguised as a Venus, handled it with care, and – by herself – gracefully rid herself of the hairy mess on her lean, muscular legs – no longer chubby and sweet and squeezable – but carved by hours and hours and years and years of ballet and swimming and running.

The day before, she and I spent the afternoon together running errands and doing some back-to-school clothes shopping. The girl knows what she likes, but still looks to me for approval. “I like shopping with you,” she told me. “You get clothes.”

“Do you mean I understand clothes, or I buy clothes?”

“You know what looks good and what goes together.”

I just love her.

We had a blast simply hanging out together, trying on clothes, looking at jewelry, finding bargains. “This is cute, but it’s not $30 cute…” was our favorite quote of the day. We did a hilarious, crazy impromptu dance together in the dressing room at Ann Taylor Loft. (Sure hope the security cameras weren’t watching. Eesh.) Meghan is slowly transforming from a sweet, pigtailed school girl into my friend. I’m still her mom, and I still draw the lines and enforce the boundaries, but the boundaries seem a lot easier to enforce when I have her trust.

So when she came to me and asked me about shaving her legs – some of the girls at church camp were shaving, and she was wondering when it was ok for her to start – it seemed to be a natural overflow of the trust we had built during the previous day.

And the previous eleven years.

That’s my hope for the teenage years. That with every nighttime story time and prayer and tuck-in, every casual conversation driving back and forth to school and ballet and church and piano lessons, every dinnertime catch-up, every back-to-school shopping trip – with every precious moment, I will win her heart and earn her trust. That somehow in those moments, I can reassure her of her value – to me and to God – and that I can gently teach her who He is and who He wants her to be. And then, having her heart and her trust, when girls are mean, or boys break her heart, or homework is overwhelming, or choices are monumental – then she will come to me, proverbial razor in hand, working it out by herself, but trusting in my experience and my guidance, along with God’s mercy and grace and wisdom and favor and power, to get her through it.

Knees and ankles intact.

Jennifer Liane Hunt is a wife, mom, cook, housecleaner, referee, minivan taxi driver, and (less often than she’d like) a writer from Fort Worth, Texas. When she’s not in the car, she reflects on life & faith From the Corner of My Couch.

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