By Julie Davis
During my tween years, I longed to cross the rights of passage into maturity: You know--bras, makeup, deodorant… I had finally reached the age where the only barrier between myself and these pillars of adulthood was the task of initiating the conversation with my mom. However, anyone who has been 12 years old before knows just how harrowing that task feels – gearing up for “one of those” talks seemed more like slaying a fire-breathing dragon.
With summer approaching, bathing suit and shorts weather alerted me that the leg-shaving conversation was imminent. Having barely recovered from the demoralizing “I think I need a bra” and “Can you buy me some deodorant?” initiatives, I decided to attempt a different tactic: guerilla warfare. While my mom was away for the weekend, I scavenged her bathroom and found a VERY dull razor in a lonely and abandoned corner of the shower. After a solid 45 minutes of pensive hacking, I had managed to use all the hot water in the house and remove about 70% of my leg hair. I was both flustered and triumphant.
However, my prepubescent brain had not considered the fact that soon after my mom returned from her trip she would notice the patches of baby blonde hair that were missing from my twiggy legs. This time the fiery dragon was the one to initiate:
“Julie, did you shave your legs?”
“Oh. Uhm. Yeah.”
“I... used the razor in your shower.”
“Huh. That one is really old. Why don’t I get you your own razor and some shaving cream? I can show you how to use them.”
After a while, I realized that my parents and our cringe-invoking conversations were actually not a fire breathing dragon at all. Changing hormones, growing up, embarrassment, insecurity–those natural side effects of that vulnerable and uncomfortable pre-teen season–they were my real assailants, and my parents were beside me, trying to help me slay them.
I can’t say that I never again confused my parents for the enemy, but this experience did at least help me learn two valuable lessons:
1. Sometimes we project the dragons inside ourselves onto other people.
2. Shaving cream and fresh razor blades really streamline the shaving process.
Julie is a retired ballet dancer-turned-mom of three girls. Her crew throws some pretty killer living room dance parties.