Bunny lost a tooth yesterday and as she was describing how it happened (she was eating a sandwich at school), she suddenly stopped and exclaimed, "I know! I'm going to ask the tooth fairy for pierced ears. When I wake up tomorrow my ears will have earrings in them!" She was sure.
I gently reminded her that the Tooth Fairy is not Santa (or her wish-granting grandmother), and that the ear-piercing thing wasn't going to be happening anytime soon. (We'll talk at 12.) She was pouty, but hey: tough luck kid.
First grade has been quite an adjustment for all of us. For the first time I am seeing glimpses into how Bunny will be in tweenhood. She prefers to play with the boys at the moment, leaving behind the dear period of spending her lunch recess in the library reading books with a friend. It's all very innocuous. She's not quite hip to the "liking boys" thing, but I can't help but see this phase as a taste of things to come. There's one particular boy--the red-headed, freckled-faced boy with an adorable lisp--that she talks about a lot, and he's been over to play (Pilgrims), but so far, so innocent.
Part of me is ready to embrace these changes--for me the best part about having girls is that I am one, too, and I cannot wait to guide them through all their rites of passage--but part of me would just like her to hold on to her playful, carefree little girlhood just as long as she possibly can. I already notice that she hugs me less, wants to be comforted less when she falls, has that sassy-girl stance down pat, and in her down vest, jeans, and Vans, could be 6 or 9 or 12.
When girls in her class were dashing off to see High School Musical 3 afterschool the day it came out, I said, "No." That's a no-brainer on two levels and it's probably not what you think: 1) I refuse to buy into that commercial Disney tween-exploitation machine. It's bad enough that at six-years-old she already knows WHAT it is even if she has no idea WHAT it is. And 2) She's not going to see HSM before she sees the infinitely better teen masterpiece, the iconic movie of my own tween years: "Grease."
I grew up with "Grease*," and if she is going to see a movie with inappropriate teen themes, we're going for the whole enchilada: the bullshit "gotta be a slut to catch a man" theme, teen pregnancy, bad boys, "greased lighting", high school dropouts, unrequited love...We're going for the whole shebang at once, not some saccharine rip-off of The. Best. Teen. Movie. Ever. (With. Way. Better. Songs.) Vanessa Hudgens before Didi Conn and Stockard Channing? I think not.
I cannot wait for the day that Bunny and I can watch Grease together (not any time soon, trust me) and I know she will love it immediately and "not get it at all" just as much as I did when I was a little girl. As long as I can still control every piece of media my child consumes, I'm going to try damn hard that it doesn't include any schlock. When we blow the doors open on the teen movie thing, we'll blow it open BIG. And then we'll talk about it. Over and over again. And then I'll really blow her mind by teaching her sex ed classes at Hippie Church Sunday School (a brilliantly twisted idea I heard recently).
For as long as I can keep a protective cocoon of girlhood around my little Bunny, I will. I will say no for as long as I possibly can. My job now is to nurture the sweetest, silliest parts of her. For now she remains oblivious to fashion, pop culture, what's hot, trendy or cool. She still loves horses and Junie B. Jones and rough-housing with her Papa and playing house with Wallie. She doesn't watch TV on school nights, prefers her Leapster to the Nintendo DS or Wii, and loves to help me cook any chance she gets.
She will become a tween and a teen and then a woman. She will have crushes and get her heart broken. She will think she's ugly despite the earrings or the clothes or whatever embellishment of the moment isn't making her feel pretty. She will doubt herself despite being a warm, smart, caring, beautiful girl who will always surrounded be by loving support. I know I can't change any of that, especially now that she spends 6 hours a day, five days a week out of our house, out of our control. But as long as she will accept me as her guide on this journey to the next phase of her life, this expedition is taking the slow lane.
*I love Grease so much that I have never and will never see Grease 2. I'm nothing if not stubborn.