by Patrick and J.L. Hempfing
I recall the day when I first held my baby, two arms carefully cradling her seven-pound, ten-ounce body. I also have fond memories of small planes, actually baby-food-filled spoons, zooming down to the landing strip in Jessie’s mouth. Beneath my feet, the Cheerios my toddler threw on the floor, missed by the dog, but not my shoe, crunched into dust. Diapers, baby teeth, ear infections, the list goes on. But somehow Jessie grew from baby to a nine-year-old tween. Last Sunday, she wore her mom’s shoes to church. What’s going on here? The teenage years are still far away, aren’t they?
I’ve reached the conclusion that Jessie will be a teenager before I know it. I haven’t come to terms with it, just reached the conclusion. Aside from her shoe size, there have been other signs. Dress hems that once looked up to Jessie’s knees now peer down. Two new sweat suits lasted only one school year before Jessie was ready to jog in flood waters. Even our one-year-old dog, Sadie, is not helping matters. A few days ago, Jessie dressed Sadie in the “Daddy’s Little Girl” top that she’d outgrown.
I liked it better on Jessie.
To date, I’ve been able to keep Jessie’s ears hole-free. Her stick-on earrings look beautiful, though. She gets excited when store ads come with perfume samples. When she pulls open the sticky paper tab and shoves it under my nose, I take a whiff and wrinkle my face. Jessie laughs and quickly holds another sample to my nose, followed by more giggles.
The way I see it, or smell it, my girl is beautiful without earrings or perfume. She doesn’t need makeup either. She can shoot hoops, catch balls, or swing a tennis racquet without any of that stuff. So far, Jessie has used minimal makeup – a touch of blush, a little lipstick or lip gloss, and a smidgeon of eye shadow. Once, my wife, Mattie, put a little mascara on Jessie’s lashes. However, change is in the air. I can smell it – unless the store samples messed up my olfactory glands. No, actually, Jessie showed me this morning over breakfast.
Prior to eating (Why didn’t I get breakfast ready quicker?), Mattie and Jessie were in the bathroom playing with makeup. When I sat down to eat my blueberry muffins, I looked across the table at my beautiful wife. My, I married well. Then I glanced toward Jessie’s chair and saw – a teenager.
“Jessie, we can’t skip the tween years.”
Jessie had just put on her own mascara for the first time. She was wearing lipstick, too.
I wanted to grab the box of Cheerios and ask if Jessie would like to throw some on the floor. Before I could react, though, she informed me, “Momma says I can put on my own mascara.”
I voiced my concern that she’s too young. What if the eyelash brush hits her pupil? I’m barely ready for tween Jessie, much less teenage Jessie. Maybe it’s time to get her perspective.
Jessie, Age 9
I wear makeup all the time. My mom gives me her old makeup. I have very long lashes, so mascara looks good on me. My teachers are always commenting on my long eyelashes. I do not see why my dad is so against makeup. He is afraid that I will poke myself in the eye. I am not a baby anymore. I showed him how I put it on. Did that help? I do not know. What I do know is that as I get older I will get more responsibilities. I am getting older now. My dad understands.
Later that same Saturday, Jessie, already having reapplied her mascara once, sat in the hallway and talked to her dog. “Sadie, you’re too young for mascara. You have to wait until you’re two.”
And I thought I was ill-prepared for my daughter to wear mascara. I’m not ready for my daughter to look like a teenager, much less the dog!
But whether Jessie’s makeup includes lipstick, eye shadow, and mascara or no makeup at all, one thing is certain ’tween daughter and dad, I love my girl and my girl loves me.
Patrick Hempfing had a 20-year professional career in banking, accounting, and auditing before he became a father at age 44. He is now a full-time husband, stay-at-home dad, and writer. Follow Patrick at http://patrickhempfing.com. J. L. Hempfing, now 13, began writing with her dad in kindergarten. Her current hobbies include reading, writing, playing clarinet and alto saxophone, and dancing.