"Mommy, you want to see how I put lipstick?" asked my almost-4-going-on-almost-14-year-old, brandishing a tube of plastic lipstick in a lurid shade of red her best friend had generously gifted her.
Badly wanting to say, "Er, no," I sighed instead and said, "Sure." Raina carefully applied the plastic on her lips and smacked them. "Well, you can do it this way or the other way," she explained, now exhibiting a plastic lip brush, which she rubbed on the lipstick and then applied to her lips. Followed the action with that resounding smack.
"Mmmmm," I murmured, instead of the WTF? that was trembling on my lips.
This must be what those in the know refer to as a generation or cultural gap. More like a yawning chasm, I think, remembering my own childhood.
My earliest memory of makeup application is charged with tension and elation. I was 8 years old, standing before my mom's vanity mirror, applying her very real lipstick, terrified of the hand I know I would feel on my cheek were she to walk in unserendipitously, yet sharply conscious of the zing of doing something forbidden. I would dust some talcum powder to whiten my face, spritz on a little French perfume. Then I would scrub my face shiny and be back to being 8, dreaming of being 18 and allowed unimaginable freedoms.
The first time I was permitted to wear nailpolish was when I was 14. It was such a big deal because we were actually allowed to wear our grown and polished nails TO SCHOOL!
Fast forward to now, my daughter's already asking if she may have a pedicure like her best friend recently did. At my definite negative, she follows hopefully, "Maybe when I am 8?"
Oh my dear god.
P tells me that it's better this way: she can do the makeup thing earlier than me -- and put it behind her faster than I did. Maybe he's right, but I think my fear runs deeper than the idea that she may become one of those girly-girls who can't look beyond her powdered nose and perfectly manicured nails to think about an education, a career.
Maybe I'm just scared she's growing up too fast. As her experience widens, she learns things I can't control. She does things I don't like. It's scary as heck to see her test her wings. It's too soon, I want to yell. I want to put blinders on her so she can only see the good monsters like Ernie. And I want to hold on to her tight, so tight. I want to throw away that plastic lipstick and lip brush, so I don't see her use the real thing.
And with that, I suddenly realize. I'm becoming like my mother. My mother who still calls me "gudiya" (doll), who still talks to me like I'm a tiny tot instead of a mother of two tots, who just can't grasp her mind around the fact that I'm a grown woman.
As the one thing I promised myself since time immemorial was to not become like my mom, this nonsense has gotta stop. So I guess I'll continue to mutter sotto voce when my daughter dabs lip gloss that she received as a party favor. (A party favor for a 2-year-old girl's birthday!) Maybe my lack of enthusiasm will have a more beneficial effect on R than outright criticism. I can always hope.