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Friday, April 20, 2012

It's Becoming

I grew up when girls had long hair and wore dresses.  Trousers of any sort were forbidden at school except for snow pants on a winter’s day, and then they had to be removed at the classroom door.  (Anyone remember cloak rooms?)  I, however, was a tomboy.  Somehow I buffaloed my Mom, usually so conscious of social norms, into letting me lop off my hair (think a cute bob a la Rachel Maddow).  Out of school, I ran around in my brother’s old Tee shirts and jeans.  (Well, my Mom was a product of the Great Depression; hand-me-downs were a fact of a third child’s life.)  Even as a little girl, I did not like the constraints of a stereotype. 
My own daughter was a petite, slim child (read “small and skinny”) on the outside but indomitable on the inside.  The days of gender dress were over, and I have vivid memories of her racing through her aunt’s kitchen and out the door with an enormous millipede between her fingers, screaming triumphantly, “Look what I’ve got!  Look what I’ve got!” 

Then there were the hours of delightful play as she entertained her brother thinking up ways to kill the doll Billy by having him jump off the dollhouse roof, fall out the dollhouse window or slip in the dollhouse bathtub.  Sweet girl.  Her ambition was to be the person who went down in the shark cage.  She was a wonderful child and easy to raise but pink tutus and tea parties, not so much, either of us.

My Perfect Granddaughter?  That’s different story.  She chooses the pink and the frilly every time.  We laugh and say she must have gotten her girlie streak from her dad.  She knows all the Disney princesses, and the thrill of her life was getting done up at the Bippety Boppety Boutique at Disney World.  She’s nobody’s pushover, believe me, but she is all girl.  

(Alan got done up, too)

When she was misbehaving at the dinner table (both my grandchildren are Perfect, so although I can’t remember what she was doing, I’m sure she was doing it to perfection), my daughter rebuked her mildly with, “Stop it, Suzannah; that’s not becoming.”

My head swiveled, and I mouthed, “Not becoming?”

My daughter shrugged, “It works.” 

And so it did. Suzie sat up straight, smiled and became a model girl.

Don’t you wish it were always that easy?  The mean kids bully a meek one in the parking lot, so you walk over and say, “That’s not becoming.” They immediately stop and extend hands of friendship.

Secret service agents in Colombia:  “That’s not becoming,” and they zip their flies and return to the hotel, alone, and sober.

The mental cloud following you around?  Shake your fist at the sky and say firmly, “That’s not becoming,” and the universe shapes up and sends you a sunny, sunny day.


  1. As the aforementioned father of said perfect granddaughter, I'll accept responsibility for her femininity and fashion sense. After all, I dress the whole family, so I know Stephanie's clothes sizes better than she does! :)

    Scott Dack

  2. Does she even know her clothing size?