Last weekend we were shopping for Halloween gear, and I picked up some extra mascara for Violet, the 13yo – for Halloween, that is. She has minimal interest in wearing make-up daily.
Victoria, the 9yo, is quite another story. She has been sneaking into make-up and trying to get away with wearing it out of the house for years.
“Do you think I can wear mascara when I’m 13?” she asked as we walked to the Target checkout. This being the 9yo, it was a lengthy conversation full of hypotheticals, so it lasted long enough for everyone in line, and the cashier, to listen in.
As I concluded “13 is a long time from now, it’s hard to predict what we’ll be OK then, so I can’t make any promises” (a key stall tactic), there were some smiles in our general direction, including from what looked like a teen mom with a little baby all covered in fleece in the shopping cart.
Since we made eye contact, and she was looking admiringly at Victoria, I asked her, “What do you think is a good age to start wearing mascara?”
She hemmed and hawed, seeming even younger than I had thought, clearly wanting to say the right thing to an impressionable child—and possibly wanting not to piss off the child’s mom. She decided 14 was about the right age just as the cashier finished ringing her up. That’s when I noticed the teen dad, who was paying. He turned around with a friendly smile, nodded at the fleece bundle, and said wryly:
“Don’t wear any make-up or you’ll end up with a baby.”
It came out funny, and I hope this went down OK with teen mom, because they seemed like nice kids doing the best they could and they sure don’t need trouble. But I wouldn’t blame her if she gave him a little talking to in the car.
I turned on the radio as we started for home and this super annoying song that we all dislike came on (One More Night, Maroon 5)
Try to tell you “no” but my body keeps on telling you “yes”.
Try to tell you to “stop”, but your lipstick got me so out of breath.
I’ll be waking up in the morning, probably hating myself.
And I’ll be waking up, feeling satisfied but guilty as hell.
“What is he saying?” Victoria asked. “He wants her to stop wearing lipstick?”
Maternal lecture launch codes, activated.
Me: You hear in a lot of songs about people who say they can’t control themselves, because the other person is so beautiful or awesome.
I was saying this slowly, editing myself as I went to make it as gender-neutral as possible – yes, men are usually the ones portrayed as uncontrollable beasts, but we didn’t have to go there . . . today.
Her: If anyone ever said that to me, I would just say, “Listen, you are responsible for your own behavior. You have to control yourself.”
Mother panic neutralized. . . . for today.