My oldest daughter is 9 so we’ve had many You-and-Your-Body discussions lately. I get a bit squirrely about some of her questions so, being the big chicken that I am, I bought her a book.
It’s called “The Care & Keeping of You,” and believe it or not it’s from the American Girl Doll people. My friends kept raving about it so I grabbed it and now I see why. It covers everything from how to floss to how to use a tampon. Prepare yourself for that last one because it’s pretty graphic. That particular diagram led my daughter and I to our most recent BODY conversation.
She showed me this rather explicit illustration with a look of did-you-really-want-me-to-see-this. I told her that YES, that’s exactly what you do with a tampon and she proceeded to completely freak out, as any 9-year-old would.
I tried to reel the discussion in by saying, “Honey, it’s important for you to know your body. Don’t be afraid of it. I know all of these things might seem a little shocking but you are responsible for your body. You will have to take care of it for the rest of your life.”
She snorted at the idea so I decided to hammer the notion home a little further.
“Seriously Emma, this body is what will carry you through your entire life. It’s the same body you were born with and the same body you’ll have when you are old. These little hands are the same ones I squeezed when I held you for the first time. They’ll be the same hands that hold your own children. And when you’re an old woman, these hands will hold your tiny grandchildren. Isn’t that wonderful? You are responsible for your body and the more you take care of it, the more it will take care of you. Respect this beautiful body of yours Emma and love it, the way I love you.”
I don’t always find the right words when I need to, but I could tell at this particular moment, I had reached my daughter. But then I realized what a hypocrite I am. Do I treat my own body with that kind of respect? How can I claim to when I gripe about looking OLD and FAT all the time?
After all, this is the same body that my own mother hugged when I was small, like Emma. The same body that carried my wonderful daughters and brought them into the world. When I was broken down and sad and didn’t think I could take another minute, this body has always been strong enough to carry me through.
So isn’t it time for me to stop talking trash about it?
After all, isn’t getting OLD simply a symptom of not dying? I guess it’s time to start practicing what I preach.
Care to join me?