I am sitting in the waiting room of the pediatrician's office when my daughter casually pulls a blue-black eyeliner pencil from my purse and begins applying it with a well-practiced hand.
"Not here!" I hiss, looking around the room, which is strewn with colorful plastic toys and parenting magazines. She looks at me with the slightly bored expression that so perfectly complements the smoky blue accent line she has drawn under her lower lashes.
"Stop," I repeat. "What?" she says.
"You may as well take that eyeliner and scrawl "bad mommy" across my forehead," I say.
I snatch the eyeliner away and put it back in my purse. Because I am a hypocrite. Also, it is my favorite eyeliner.
A few minutes later she is sitting on the floor happily playing with a yellow plastic dump truck. Ten minutes after that I am trying to make a decision about whether to have her vaccinated against a sexually transmitted virus. Which seems dramatically premature to the mother of the little girl playing with the toy truck. The mother of the fifth-grader wearing eyeliner, on the other hand, had better have her ducks in a row.
* * *
"Oh honey," the mother said, sizing up my miniature flapper in her black fringed minidress, sequined headband and rolled stockings. "You've got yourself a ho." - essayist and author Ayelet Waldman, writing on NPR.org
Did somebody say ducks?
Posted by: Audubon Ron | March 26, 2009 at 12:37 PM
Oh god. Ohgodohgodohgod. My kid will not be in 5th grade, ever.
Posted by: Mr Lady | March 26, 2009 at 12:43 PM
Oh, come on, you know you don't have anything to worry about. You live in the wholesome midwest, where in spite of winters that feel like the freezing wrath of God, no one even thinks of anything naughty until they're 30. It's not like you're raising your daughter someplace decadent and tropical.
Posted by: Sue | March 26, 2009 at 01:50 PM
This is so great. It reads almost like a photo essay. I can just see those images lined up one against the other.
Posted by: Well Read Hostess | March 27, 2009 at 10:46 AM
My girls, twins, are in the third grade. A few months ago they announced they're "goth."
They've been asking for makeup, but the only thing I've allowed is black nail polish. (Leftover from Halloween 07.)
One has grown out of it and is now wearing pink again. The other hasn't - yet.
They tell me they're "pre-teens." I tell them they're "post-babies."
You have my sincere condolences.
Posted by: Jess | March 28, 2009 at 04:37 AM
Yup, that's totally the way it happens. Enjoy the ride.
--Mother of a 15-year-old
(and a 3-year-old)
Posted by: MomZombie | March 28, 2009 at 08:21 AM
Your essay and the one by Waldman made me laugh because I can identify, even without a daughter. The boy version of this is when you first find a cup and I don't mean coffee, sitting on the coffee table in the living room. Not so bad but I didn't notice it until the cops who were checking my house for burglars left. (yes we live in that kind of neighborhood) Subsequent discussion in the car on the way to school ended up in a talk about condoms and a "Mom sometimes you are so gross I can't wait for you to be completely senile!" "Completely" I wondered...
Posted by: nthnglsts | March 29, 2009 at 09:31 AM
Oh yeah...welcome to my world. I'm watching The Powerpuff girs with my 13 year old and out the blue she says.."My friend (who's in 9th grade - high school) says they got a letter about a herpes outbreak at her school"
I'm NOT ready for this.
Posted by: Lynette | April 04, 2009 at 07:57 PM