|Masana expressing her discontent.|
A few weeks ago, I began searching for formal dresses that Masana could wear to her ballroom dance classes. (Yes, I said ballroom dance classes. "Dancing With The Stars," here we come!) I knew it would be a painful endeavor because she HATES dresses---or more accurately, she HATES the way she feels in a dress. Getting Masana to go shopping with me for a dress was never going to happen, so I went solo and just bought what I considered the least offending styles and colors. A few days before her first class, I laid the dresses down on Masana's bed and asked her to try on each one. After the longest hour in both our lives, Masana chose a black lace dress that didn't make her feel "weird." That night I popped open a bottle of Shiraz and toasted my small victory.
Masana is not some dress hating tomboy. She loves wearing pretty headbands, enjoys getting her nails painted, and is exhibiting signs of having celebrity boy crushes. But she developed an early negative body image a because some idiot "friend" of hers back in the third grade (why is it that mean girl behavior always starts in the third grade??) told her she was fat, that she had fat lips, and that her eyes looked funny---all in one breath. It was expressed with that rhetorical questioning that only lawyers and mean girls seem to have down pat. The only difference is that a mean girl will fire her ammunition in that sing-song playful tone and through a smile so tight that the seams of her face might rip.
This all transpired within the confines of my home, so I guess I was lucky to cut the verbal abuse short. But it took all of my newly acquired suburban prissiness to hold back my inner Brooklyn girl and not throw down right there in our play room. I heard this child say these awful things and I went completely red inside. Yeah, and I didn't want to be on "Dateline NBC" for being the mom-who-got-sent-to-jail-for-threatening-her-kid's-frenemy, so I ordered Masana out of the room and called the girl's sitter for an early pick-up.
Last Friday was her first ballroom class and I struggled mightily with Masana to put on her dress and white gloves. While waiting for her carpool to show up, she hid behind the bushes in our front yard and complained bitterly about everything wrong in her life. I topped this list, of course. But then her ride showed up and all the girls in the car got out. The goofball of the group started doing a mime act with her white gloved hands and Masana laughed. She popped out from behind the bushes and all the girls started talking at once. After striking poses for the camera, the girls piled into the car and went to class. When she came home a few hours later, Masana was all smiles.
This morning I began my usual routine: empty dishwasher, make breakfast, pack lunches, review what extra-curricular activities each kid has. I called out from the kitchen and reminded Masana that she had to leave early for band practice. Before I finished getting the words out of my mouth, Masana entered the kitchen fully clothed and ready to leave. And she was wearing a sweater dress.
My husband came down the stairs and stopped in his tracks when he spotted Masana. And I saw the arc of his emotions: surprise, pride, and...concern.
That's right, Dave. Our girl is a knock-out. In about six months you'll have to deal with the stupidity of boys as they notice her. And in about six years you'll have to scare the bejezus out of all these same stupid boys as they try to date her.
Masana is starting to wear dresses again. And she's enjoying it.