Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The razor's edge

Do you ever wake up in the morning and know right away whether the day is going to be good, so-so, or dreadful? Well, that sixth sense works for evenings too. Yesterday I could sense doom in the air within 5 minutes of our arrival at home, and sure enough, by 8 p.m. I was putting G to bed un-bathed and grumpy, with her room a wreck and her homework unfinished. Tonight, even though we got home much later (grocery shopping), the atmosphere was totally different, and now G is upstairs cheerfully washing her hair and singing to herself. Strange but true.

Speaking of G and hygiene, she asked me this morning if she could shave her legs. I gulped down my first, instinctive response, which was Absolutely not! You're EIGHT! and told her I would consider it and get back to her. I'm sure you're all thinking I'm insane, but in fact there are some good arguments for allowing it:

1. G has, and always has had, very dark and noticeable hair on her legs. I don't know why -- she's half Filipina, and Asian girls are not notoriously hairy -- but she does.

2. I don't think it's an attempt to grow up prematurely on her part; I think the hair bothers her and she wants to get rid of it. If she had barely-there blonde hair and wanted to shave it, I'd say no and not even question my decision.

3. On the other hand, if she had hair under her arms (which at the rate she's going could happen any time now) and wanted to shave it off, I wouldn't hesitate to let her. Other than surface area, what makes legs any different than armpits?

4. I'm not planning to let leg-shaving become a slippery slope that ends up with her wearing makeup and platform shoes in the third grade. It's basic grooming, end of story.

Of course, there are also drawbacks, the main one being that she's too young to wield a razor (I started shaving when I was 11, and I still shudder when I remember some of my early accidents), so I would have to do it for her. And I would have to do it frequently, because the only thing that looks worse than thick, dark leg hair is thick, dark leg stubble. I can barely remember to shave my own not-very-hairy legs once a week; how am I going to keep up with hers too? Also, G has already gotten some comments from friends at school about wearing deodorant, and I don't want her to attract more attention by shaving her legs than she would by leaving them the way they are. So ... I don't know. She hasn't brought it up again, so maybe it was just a passing thought and she's already forgotten about it. I guess I'll just wait and see if it becomes a recurring request, or a source of serious embarrassment.


Mary said...

Delurking for a moment to give my two!

I believe I started shaving around 11, too. My mom showed me how and did it for me for a few weeks. Then, since I felt grown up enough to do it, I had to do it. =)

Also, the deoderant- how do kids know she is using it? Does she have that Berry Teen Spirit kind that has a rather strong smell??

Granny said...

My girls hit puberty early (or at least the older two did). They started shaving legs and underarms because they saw my daughter do it, borrowed her disposables, and just did it.

I'd already done the whole lecture thing. It didn't help - they were being teased or so they said.

I had to put my feminist views aside and consider their feelings.

All was well until the younger two decided to shave everything. I told them when it started to grow out and itch, I'd laugh at them.

They haven't done it again.

Rochelle started wearing deodorant early. I hadn't noticed any odor but her teacher mentioned it (even with a daily morning bath). Once she started, the others did.

Anyhow, I choose my issues. I thought it was much too young but if my mom had had her way, I'd still be in undershirts instead of bras to this day.

Granny said...

Oops - I started out to thank you for your comment today and got sidetracked.

Thank you.

Mrs Figby said...

How about getting her an electric razor? That's what I got when I first started shaving. It takes a lot of the danger out of it. Of course, nobody then told me how to use a real razor, so I dry-shaved my legs the first time and then spent days in agony before casually asking my aunt what she used when she shaved.

Space Mom said...

I was thinking, have you asked her why she wants to start? If it is because she wants to get rid of the mess, I think that's a reasonable reason.

Have you considered the razor like nair stuff? You put it on the legs like shaving cream and use a bladeless razor to remove it.

Or the electric

~Sandy~ said...

wow, I can't imagine...
I have no recollection of when I started any of that stuff. I agree with one of your comments, maybe have her try with the nair stuff or some other less dangerous way of removal rather than razors?! I still injure myself shaving regularly, lol!

Pixilated Mum said...


My two cents (which are probably worth even less than that): I'd say no. Yeah, so you can see hair on her legs. So what? She's eight!It's totally acceptable when you're a kid. And unless it's long enough to braid, it should be fine.

G seems galloping towards puberty, so I think I'd be putting the brakes where I could. I know you can't stop puberty (How weird would it be to control that? LOL), but I'd try slowing the behavioral stuff if I could. Yeah, her body's developing in certain ways, but she's still a little girl.

Again, just my two cents. I've got a six-year-old girl, so I've not had to tackle that razor just yet. ;-)

p.s. I started shaving my legs at 12 because by then, I could braid it. And I didn't like the hairs going through my tights. LOL I just figured it was like how my daddy shaved his beard, so I put on the shaving cream and went at the legs. Ouch.

writermeeg said...

Oh, I'm so afraid. Have I blocked out my own puberty? I can't remember when I started shaving. And I'll be calling you in a few years, V, when Senna hits these lovely life markers, to remind me how you did this.

I like the ideas here: ask her why, try electric (nair seems terribly messy and toxic, but who am I, a natural nut with a toddler!), or how about use your magic wand and stop the early puberty thing?! Hugs...

Gem said...

I use an electric shaver and LOVE it! No more nicks and scrapes. I have to shave a bit more often -- everyday, really for summer -- but it just takes a couple of minutes and I'm off. Mine was only around $20 or so, maybe a bit more for the rechargeable one.