There is something that happens to girls (and boys I am sure) when they hit the age of 9. Their bodies start really changing, their moods change, and they become increasingly aware of who they are within the world. This is a good thing, right? My daughter is really coming into her own right now. She gets along with most anyone and everyone in her class – and has learned to be civil even if she doesn’t. She is figuring out that she becomes frustrated with her self easily and even more easily when she is hungry. My daughter is starting to grow up.
I notice this growth every now and again. Such revelations often occur when they are least expected Like her sudden awareness that her mom might have a life beyond her. (Apparently my telling her that she doesn’t know everything about me finally sunk in)
“Do you go on dates at work? I mean, during your lunch break, do you date?”
Being the honest mom that I am… “Yes”
“Oh” and the conversation ended. (And I was happy about that, thank you very much!)
She is also becoming more aware of the body types she sees… “Why do older men have sagging stomachs?”
“Not all of them do.”
“Many of them do…”
“I don’t know… “And I honestly don’t. They drink too much, eat too much, don’t get much exercise… a little of all of the above…who knows. It is not a natural part of the older human male in all cases.
My favorite though, and the one about which I am being jabbed continuously by men and women alike…
“I looked at myself in the mirror the other day and thought, in the few years, the boys are going to go crazy!”
When she said this, she being my daughter who has no interest in boys whatsoever, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to laugh, roll my eyes, cry, lock the doors and throw away the keys, or just start looking for the most empty and pleasant deserted island!
I do know that I try really hard to minimize the attention my daughter pays to her own body outside ensuring that it is fed correctly, functions as it should, and is in top condition. These aren’t obsessions – just a focus on healthy living. But, my daughter has been blessed with a dancer’s body – a body that has been toned and sculptured for years. In the last few months she has worked very hard in ballet to be all that she can be – which is illustrated by the defined muscles and shape of her figure. The ballet instructor told them that they would start to notice their hard work sculpting their bodies… and my Diva has noticed. My Diva likes the body she has.
The dads I know just laugh… and joke about their daughters not dating until they are in their 30’s. The moms I know cringe and feel my pain. The younger women I know think it is kind of “scary.”
But it is… dare I say… the onset of puberty. It isn’t the physical development of child to woman but it is the chemical change that starts around the age of 8. It is the maturity that comes with self knowledge and confidence. It is living in a world that focuses a great deal of attention on the body as a tool that allows her to perform her art.
“A fit and healthy ballerina is a happy ballerina” I tell her attempting to ensure that she remembers that it is important to maintain a healthy form. We talk about her brain needing healthy foods to function and she is aware of the dangers of eating disorders.
Don’t get me wrong, with all these changes, my Diva is not vain. There is very little to no room in my house for such lofty ideas. She knows that her body must be maintained to perform… but she also knows the importance of healthy eating and exercise. She has not yet found the desire to wear clothes like this and that celebrity or to listen to the most popular kind of music. She is quite content doing her own thing and being her own person. She knows that it is about the person within over the physique that counts.
And yet, living in my house, sharing my world… where did she figure out those boys would go crazy for her body in a few years?? *sigh*
I wonder if I will mature and be ready for her teen aged years when they occur!!