The Boy Shorts - by Bozemama
April 19, 2012
Posted By: Shaunescy
Hello and welcome to the first in a series of musings on the pleasures of raising a tween. Now, I can’t help but assume that any parent of a precocious, overachieving firstborn is at some point going to suffer from the indignity of the parent/child role reversal. I might be the only one experiencing this but I sincerely hope not; it would just make me feel better to know that I’m not alone.
The thing about my now 12-year-old daughter and me is that she started treating me like the child in the relationship years before she really had any right to. And it’s only gotten worse.
Now, let me begin by defining my terms. I’m not talking about her being embarrassed by me (that’s a whole other category of discomfort) or correcting me outright (you should have seen the look on her then 7-year-old face when she had to remind me that the sun is, in fact, a star). No. I am talking about the ever-so-slightly superior-trying-to-help-but-am-secretly-disdainful of your outfit/dog training/interior decorating/singing skills/gardening ability/you name it tone of voice.
Let’s call it the momtone.
It flared up most recently at Chico Hot Springs and I just have to share. First, a little background: I am a pretty average-sized 42-year-old mother of two. I’ve never seen my abs (pretty sure I was born without them) and I could definitely stand to lose a pound (or 20), but I’m not quite a candidate for The Biggest Loser (yet).
I am, however, horrified about the grapefruit skin-padded flab that now upholsters my middle-aged ass. And so this year I decided to do myself a favor and buy a boy short swimsuit bottom (which just happens to look amazing on the cyborg in the Athleta catalog). It doesn’t exactly eliminate the problem, but it makes me feel better, plus I don’t have to worry about a bikini wax (bonus!). OK, that being said, let’s get back to the Hot Springs and that fateful day last month.
I had just started to relax and soak after my awkward mad dash from the dressing room into the pool when my daughter says, “Mom, I like that top, but I really don’t like the boy shorts. I don’t know why you got them.”
Um, OK. “Well,” I answer, trying not to show how weirdly hurt I am, “I’m a little uncomfortable with exposing my butt in a swimsuit and I thought this might be a hipper alternative to the swim skirt.”
That should settle it, I muse as I start to drift away from her. Fat chance. “Well . . .” she says in the momtone, “Why not just get rid of the fat on your butt and then you can get rid of the boy short too?” Small smile. Tilted head. Oh, if only it were that easy. She keeps going, “I mean, you know, mom, Mr. Kostrba says that people who exercise are much, much happier than people who don’t.”
God bless Mr. Kostrba. He really might be the greatest gym teacher in the entire world, but
in that moment, I kind of hate him because – of course – he’s right. And so is my daughter. But I just want to soak and float (thanks to all that extra fat) and not think about how I should exercise at least 30 minutes three times a week.
But instead I say: “You’re right sweetheart, I should exercise. I’ll add it to the list.” And then I dive underwater, swim away and repeating my go-to mantra for these situations: “I am the parent, I am the parent, I am the parent . . . “
And then I swim back over to my daughter and yank down her swim bottoms.
No, not really.