The other week, my oldest daughter came home from shopping with her mother and grandmother holding a large shopping bag and smile, as big as the bag, on her face. She started emptying the bag by pulling each item out one by one. She pulled out a swimming suit, multiple pairs of multi-colored flip flops, shirts, and shorts. With each item she grabbed, she spun a tale of what it was, why it was bought, and how it was bought (usually by Grandmom and accompanied by a coupon during a 25% Off Sale). It was nice to see her so excited and so appreciative of what she had gotten. I commented on what a big girl she was becoming and smiled. Then my little girl reached her arm deep into the bottom of the bag and pulled the last 4 items out. In her hand she had four brightly colored, striped, and polka dotted bras. She held them up like they were Olympic Gold Medals and she was beaming.
I grabbed my wife in a panic, “Bras?”
As my wife so ready to succinctly put it, “For her bo..”
“Don’t say it!”
“Well she needs them for…them. And you just said she was a ‘big’ girl.”
“Not that big!” I may have been hyperventilating by this point.
What’s next, tampons (they are aren’t they)? My wife told me to “calm down” and made sure to throw in a “you’re an idiot” for good measure. Our daughter wasn’t wearing see-through lingerie; she was going to be wearing “training bras”.
I ignored the “idiot” remark (though aped it) as I contemplated the rippling effect these “training bras” were going to have. Soon there would be boys at my house. I would most likely have to purchase a gun so I could clean in front of those boys when they were in my house. I saw Joe Francis’ face and pictured production crews for 16 & Pregnant (I’m nothing if not rational). I immediately went to the Internet to do some research because I was having a hard time believing an 8, almost 9, year old would be developed enough to be mere moments away from applying for a Victoria’s Secret credit card. I checked WebMD.
According to their site, “…at the age of 9, girls gain 18% of their adult height. Breasts can also develop, in some, before the age of 9.” The next section dealt with pubic hair which led me to promptly shut my computer.
The shelf life for childhood is short enough already without being faced with this sort of thing at age 8. While Hannah is trying her best to grow up as fast as possible, I am doing my best to slow it down, for my own selfish reasons.
So I got thrown for a loop about the 4 bras my daughter was now trying on, one by one, like a runway model. Not because it happened but because of how sudden it happened. One minute she is my 8 year old daughter playing dolls and fighting with her baby sister and the next minute she is asking me to fix the straps on her polka dot bra.
It wasn’t so long ago I was changing her diapers, feeding her warm bottles before bed, and getting peed on. I watched her crawl, take her first steps, and run for the first time. A few years ago I could have been a UN translator in baby talk. I listened to her as intently as if she were addressing Congress when she learned to form actual words. I was tired, stressed, and sick of smelling like regurgitated Similac and was excited for to grow up but never too quickly. I just wanted to hold her hand as she walked through the figurative and literal steps in her life.
But time stops for no distraught father faced with his little girl now wearing support garments. Hannah has grown up in the blink of an eye. She is full of life, energy, thoughts, and now, a drawer full of training bras. And I knew this was coming. I just never thought it would happen so soon.
It’s not that I don’t want my daughter to grow up to be a beautiful, confident, intelligent, bra wearing woman, because I do want all of that for her. I guess what it comes down to is, I’m afraid. I’m afraid this is just the beginning of Hannah’s sprint up the figurative and literal steps of her life and as she does, she is going to let go of my hand before I’m ready to let go of hers.