Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Exercising Restraint

"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.
Dang it.
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.

18 comments:

the mad momma said...

take a deep calming breath. and if that doesnt work - wait 4 years and we can hold hands and let out that scream of anguish!!!

dipali said...

Tough one. Despite all good intentions, when it comes to our kids we all seem to turn into our mothers- H-e-l-p, someone, please.
Play it as cool as you can- the more you disapprove, the more fascinated she will be.
I guess it's as much role playing as playing with dolls and being mommy and teacher to them. Chill- and maybe you won't turn into your mom!

A Muser said...

MM, thanks for the solidarity! It'll be good to have company.
Dipali, great advice. I do need to chill a bit about this - I know not all mothers get freaked out just because their kid wants to experiment with makeup. It just hits some nerve in me, and I'm trying to figure out how to deal with it.

eve's lungs said...

More fool the mother that thought of such rubbish as a party favour . As Dips says cool down and ignore it . Pretty soon she'll go back to being her age . BTW could you give her a pedicure as a treat , maybe ?

A Muser said...

EL, if I give her a pedicure as a treat when she's not even 4, what in heaven's name am I to give her when she's 8? 12?

Sraikh said...

Sigh.. parenting girls is hard work. My girls are turning 9 and 6 this year. SO far, we havent had to deal with pedicure requests but they do like to put nail polish. They each have their own little lip gloss thing that they apply sometimes.
I think the key is not to over react, if you make something forbidden, it becomes all the more desirable to them, does that make sense?
Like when they wanted to try my blusher, I just did a few daps with my brush and they were happy. There was nothing on the brush but it made them happy :)

I got into makeup very late, I still hate applying it :)

eve's lungs said...

Just to get her off it ? Soak her feet and give those tootsies a little rub, maybe ? ( wheedle)Its like eating a slice of gooey chocolate cake for breakfast . Come on , girl! :)

A Muser said...

So sensible of you, sraikh. I guess that seems to be the general consensus -- don't make a big deal out of it coz if it's forbidden then they'll want it more. But isn't it good to have something that's forbidden? Preferably something innocuous? So that if R does try some behind my back, it's OK? Like I did when I was a kid? Part of the fun was that it was forbidden. Just wondering...
EL, my girl is the kind who if you give her an inch, she'll take an ell. Let's say I give in. Next thing you know, she wants one every other day. "Please, mommy? Please?" Once I give her enough pedis to make my own fingernails fall off, she may stop. Then ask for something else that I don't want her to have. Like blue freakin' nail polish. Where does it stop I ask you?

Mystic Margarita said...

It's a very frustrating situation, no doubt. But I feel what you've done is probably the best way to handle it. I'm sure that in spite of outside influences, Raina will definitely always have the values you have and will instill in her. But obviously, as parents, there is no end to worrying, is there?

Sraikh said...

Muser,
Well, some things you have to put off limits. Like sexy underwear for my 9 year. We were shopping for a slip because she complained of her breasts being sensitive. I was shocked SHOCKED at thongs and push up bras for tweens. I told her I am never buying a thong or a panty with wild things written on its butt and she knows.

Raina is 4 right? Tell yourself its just a phas and pour wine for youselft after they are in bed. :)

A Muser said...

Mystic, thanks for the support. Yep, no end to the worrying, but I'm beginning to realize I'm a bit of a control freak. Nothing like parenting to make you more self-aware, is there?
Sraikh, that is truly shocking! What are people thinking? There must be a market for thongs and pushups for teens, or they wouldn't stock them at the stores. Crazy!

eve's lungs said...

tough situation !

GettingThereNow said...

I remember the first time S showed interest in makeup. I don't remember what I said to her but NOW I am cool about it. And I do agree that acting aloof is the best defense against the early onslaught of makeup :D Really - what are these mothers thinking? Handing out makeup as return gift to 4 year olds? I used to crib for days when S got any inappropriate return gifts that she wasn't allowed to use. Really - these children look forward to the return gifts and what a letdown it must be to not be able to use it because it is age inappropriate.

A Muser said...

GTN, Not be able to use it??? My daughter would've thrown a hissy fit if I'd have snatched that very precious lip gloss from her, telling her it's not age appropriate. Because by the time I saw what the return gift was, she'd already opened it. And used it. And LOVED it. I let her use it that time. But come the next trip to the store, though she begged for some, I didn't let her have any.

GettingThereNow said...

LOL! My daughter still comes to ask me if she can "eat that candy", or "play on the computer" or "open that gift" etc. Makes me wonder if I have been the momzilla who keeps her daughter too much under the thumb :P

I would have done the same if I were in your position.

A Muser said...

GTN, it's nice to know another Momzilla! I sometimes feel I am too strict with her.

Romila said...

Coming here for the first time. LOL:) ur daughter applying lipstick in two ways...how smart and observant todays' kids are.

A Muser said...

Romila, welcome to my blog! Kids do seem to get smarter with each new generation.