"Good morning girls. Help!"
This was the clarion cry that greeted me from my facebook page this morning. That's another great thing about facebook. I love the way that you can pose your parenting dilemma to a vast range of people and then judge, by the responses you receive, whether your view is generally supported or wide of the mark. You don't have to change your ideas but it gives food for thought.
Anyway, today's issue was at what age should you allow your daughter to shave their legs? Tricky one. Having two teenage-ish daughters, it's a problem that I have struggled with already.
There are not many concrete pieces of advice that I remember receiving from my mother as I grew up. Most of what she wanted me to know was carefully manipulated into my consciousness until I believed it was my idea. But I clearly recall her telling me not to shave my legs until I could no longer bare not it. Those blonde, downy hairs that are barely visible to the naked eye, she warned, will grow back as dark, sharp stubble. And then, she said as if recounting a ghost story to a gullible infant, the hairs will grow thicker and thicker until you have no option but to shave. And you'll wish you'd left them alone, she added with that irritating knowing look that adults use.
I took this on board. I stuck it out until I was 20 and then I finally had them waxed. I didn't shave them until I was almost into my 30s. And my mum was right. Once shaved those hairs become coarse and dark and difficult to disguise.
So when last summer, the request came from my girls to defuzz, I trotted out my mum's advice. They looked at me as if I was a throwback from some long forgotten age and complained vociferously that they would be teased and life would be hell. I stuck to my guns and they spent a summer hairy.
Then, at Christmas when I was buying presents I had one of those "Oh isn't it fun that my girls are growing into young women?" moments and bought an epilator for my eldest. On Boxing Day, we carefully read the instructions and then set about the tiny, sparsely distributed hairs that occupied her lower legs. This was not entirely successful. The results were adequate but getting there was a journey I wouldn't choose to repeat regularly.
So, when this year the requests for hair free legs came as soon as the Lido season tickets were purchased, I invested in a tube of Veet, read them the instructions and left them to it. I could hear them in the bathroom, giggling and timing the minutes as the foul smelling cream dissolved their meagre hairs. They are delighted. Their legs are smooth and hair free and they can step out in their itsy witsy bikinis with pride.
Hair removal at 12! It's ridiculous really. But am I buying into a culture that forces our children to grow up too quickly or conceding on a battle that really isn't worth the powder? I'm not sure. I'd rather they hadn't started worrying about their appearance at such a tender age but I don't think there was anything that I could have done to prevent it short of homeschooling them. They believe it to be of great importance to them and if having smooth legs helps them ride the rollercoaster of teenager life then how can I prevent them without real grounds?
So I have passed on my view to my facebook friend and I hope it helps her with her decision. But I'm not bending on the hair highlighting issue just yet!