Extraneous Underwear Drama
“Mom, Natalia is sporting a whale tale” says my daughter. Me, “Oh, that is nice, wait, what is a whale tail?” “When your thong underwear can be seen over the tops of your jeans in the back” “Oh, ok...that is weird” I mumble My daughter laughs...
Now in my defense, I was late for work, my ex-husband was arriving and I was trying to get out the door to get the kids to school. Here are several thoughts I did not have that perhaps would have been helpful later that day:
“Why is an 11 year old wearing thong underwear?" “Who is Natalia?” “Why is my daughter telling me this?” “Is it possible my daughter has thong underwear?”
Instead I was thinking, HURRY UP and please don’t let the dog pee in the house again. Typical morning.
I take the kids to school and head to the office. Normal day occurring with all kinds of drama going on at work. I am consumed by other people’s problems and I am experiencing another Monday disguised as a Friday.
I don’t immediately respond when I see that my ex has texted me. Until he texts three times in a row...in rapid succession. I am busy dealing with the woman in the next room who is leaving her husband and filing a restraining order.
I pick up my phone expecting “hey, got the kids, all is good”
What I get is this:
"Why is Grace wearing thong underwear? She is way to little for that"
"He used the wrong to, it should be too, no wonder we aren't married anymore!"
I don’t say that but instead respond:
"Huh? What are you talking about? I don’t know where she got those..." Ok, not the best mothering moment...not knowing what kind of underwear my daughter is wearing...
Now, I am busy at work and my mind is not in the game at all because if it were then I would have known that we were headed down a precarious path. Without restraint, I plod forward and further reply:
"It’s underwear. 🙄"
Ok, the emoticon probably didn’t help - it is my favorite emoticon and I can fully admit to its overuse.
He replies: "She said she has been sporting a whale tail at school. Not cool!"
Now I feel judged and again I am distracted because I am at work...As is most of my life, my thoughts are divided by home and work. It is a struggle to leave the land of divorce and domestic violence to now be asked to deal with my ex-husband’s puritanical views on underwear.
I say: "This is not something to be discussed over text message. If you want to have a conversation with me about this please call me." I meant later...after work.
So he called me...immediately.
You can imagine how that went. Sometimes my intelligence is really hard to see from my behavior.
To sum up, this was the perfect entry for him to tell me the following things he does not appreciate:
I let the kids watch R rated moviesI (Not true - I have let them watch one Rated R movie...ok two).
I allow them to listen to rap music with swear wordsI (Are there any rap songs without swear words? Do kids today listen to any other kind of music?)
I let them know way too much about sex! (Um, I don't let them do any such thing...I had the talk with them and the rest of all that they know comes from society at large...I think we call it the internet these days...and yes, I have parental controls set up on every damn device).
In general, he does not approve of my parenting.
I am going to claim spiritual greatness here because I did not call him a fucking jerk and hang up the phone. I totally would have but I was in shock. I couldn’t believe that underwear was what got me into this particular disaster. Thong underwear no less! WTF?
I got snarky and my tongue a bit sharp. I was incredulous at the fact that he cared what kind of underwear our daughter was wearing. Apparently battle lines were drawn...
He told our daughter:
“We are not leaving this house until you change.”
To be met with the only possible answer an 11 year old girl can give:
“Fine. We won’t leave. I am not changing.”
So my home became an emotional underground fight club all because of some stupid underwear. For me, I am having a hard time believing that a guy that doesn't get to see his kids that often, is going to ruin the day over some underwear. I am also kind of pissed that I am the one that is doing all the daily parental heavy lifting, and he is calling me at work to tell me what a poor job I am doing. I am most upset about the fact that thong underwear and whale tails are causing me so many problems...I am sure you can see from this brief excerpt why we are not married anymore.
But here we are having an extraneous drama about underwear. I get why he is mad. It is his role as father and man to be hyper concerned about his daughter. He is supposed to paternalistically protect her from the evil and objectifying boys. He uses all the right terms, “it is trashy” , “not age appropriate”, “what will people think”, and my personal favorite “I forbid it”.
Now I have been rebelling against the father patriarchy my entire life. I also waged my own personal war as a small child about this very subject: underwear. I wanted big girl panties (not thongs) but the fact that two battles have been waged between fathers and daughters in my family about undergarments is astounding.
I do not take the bait to address my less than stellar (in his opinion) parenting. Instead, I tell him that I am having a hard time taking his issues seriously given that I am at work and busy and think that there are way worse things than underwear to be upset about in this life. It is after all a garment that is worn UNDERNEATH clothing...
I tell him that if he would like to ruin his brief time with our daughter over underwear, that is up to him. I recommend letting it go and moving on with the day. I tell him as soon as he shows up and helps me parent on a daily basis, I will address his parental critique (which is wholly misinformed to begin with). I hang up and return to helping someone with actual real problems...
In the end (OMG that is funny) my daughter changed her underwear and they moved on with their day. She made him wait over an hour and I am proud of her for that. Good job! He would still be waiting if it was me, but then we all know that my daughter is way more mature than me.
The whole thing did not sit well with me. Why did he think that he had the right to say what kind of underwear she wore? Why did I not know that my 11 year old had thong underwear?
After the weekend was over, I was able to get to the bottom (I can't stop now) of this drama. Turns out that a few weekends earlier, my daughter and her friends went to the mall and the girls all bought thong underwear. They all did not tell their mothers...and certainly not their fathers!
I was perplexed about what to do about this latest run at teenage rebellion...well almost teenage rebellion. I was having trouble seeing what the issue was...I mean it is UNDERWEAR after all! As usual, I am in the minority with how to see things. I do not think that my 11 year old daughter choosing to wear thong underwear is a huge problem. It does not make her overtly sexual - it is worn underneath her clothing. No one should know what underwear she is wearing! I do not think that the underwear one chooses to wear makes them slutty or promiscuous - I can't believe that I even have to dignify that with any further comment. I do get that our society at large has over-sexualized women and in turn girls. However, am I really going to change that by insisting that my daughter wear grandma panties?
At the risk of giving you way too much information...I wear thongs. I always have. Two reasons: one, I hate panty lines. two, underwear always ends up there anyway, so why not just start there? I am supremely practical. How can I take any moral high ground on the whole thong issue, when I also wear them? The age difference issue still escapes me. Why is it appropriate at 49 and not at 11? I just don't get it. (I can totally see that many of you reading this may think, that it is wrong of me to wear at 49...like I have gone on a decade too long. Well you may be right. But I am going to exercise my right to choose the thong until I die. Long live the thong baby...and yes, I do know that I need to get out more.)
When my daughter was younger, I noticed that she was always wearing her bikini underwear (the little girl kind with rainbows and hearts all over them) backwards - so the narrower part was in the back and the wider part in the front. I could not for the life of me figure out why she was doing this so one day I asked her. Do you know what she said?
"Mom, that is how your underwear are, so that is how I thought I was supposed to wear them!"
I laughed out loud.
But this whole thong thing made me uncomfortable. I wanted to be a good mother and parent. I wanted to do what was right. Trouble was, that I could not figure out what I thought to be right. I do not want my 11 year old daughter to become overly sexualized. However, is underwear really the culprit here? Can I really forbid her to wear thong underwear? Is it really any of my business? Would my consent on this issue be tantamount to condoning overtly sexual behavior? UGH! I knew that parenting teenagers (almost teenagers) was going to be hard, I just didn't know that underwear were going to be involved.
So I did what I do when I get stuck. First, I called a friend who successfully raised two beautiful girls into adulthood without any trips to rehab or planned parenthood. I asked her about the thong issue. After she got done laughing, she said this...
"My girls wanted thongs too. Maybe they were a little older, not much, but a little. I decided that I didn't care what underwear they chose to wear. But I told them that if I saw their underwear, then it was back to grandma panties. I never had a problem with thong underwear again."
Seemed reasonable. Then I did the second thing I always do after consulting a reasonable sounding board...I flipped a coin. Heads is always yes, tails always no.
"Should I let her wear thong underwear?"
The coin said yes. End of debate for me.
So I told my daughter that I didn't care what kind of underwear she chose to wear. But if I saw any of it over the top of her jeans, it would be back to granny panties. She agreed, I mean what else could she do? This arrangement was all that was standing between her and Victoria's Secret!
Needless to say my daughter was overjoyed. We went to Hollister (not Vicky's Secret) that weekend and bought new underwear. I will fully admit that I took perverse pleasure in the fact that there were plenty of people out in the world that would totally judge me as a parent. I was also happy that I was staging some small rebellion toward society at large - thinking that they should have any say so about what kind of underwear any girl or woman should choose. I can't believe that we had to fight so long and hard for our right to choose and still we have to justify our right to pick suitable undergarments lest we be judged slutty.
I will also admit that there was a little rebellion in me towards the paternalistic rantings of her father. I do not claim this as spiritual progress, just owning that sometimes I am an ass and can't help myself.
In my final analysis I came to this...there is nothing wrong with whatever underwear any one chooses to wear. There is something wrong with the fact that this conversation would never, ever have happened with my son. Unless, perhaps, he chose to wear thong underwear too. I am absolutely sure his father would not approve of that either. Me, I am decidedly and firmly committed to them being who ever they want to be...all the way down to their underwear.