Tales of a Fifth Grade Princess

The Princess is making the transition from little girl to young woman. Friday afternoon we went shopping, and in addition to some new yoga pants at Old Navy (her chosen wear for gym days), we bought some bras.


She is so open with me about her questions, curiosity and enthusiasm for her burgeoning womanhood. Sometimes I want to weep for joy, because this is so far removed from what I had with my mother. I feared discussing anything personal with her, and I feared it at such a young age that I cannot name what started it.

Becoming a woman was not joyful for me, but rather puzzling and worrisome. I remember sneaking into the closet while visiting a friend to try on her bra. I remember getting my period for the first time and thinking I was dying. I remember, I remember, I remember…

The Princess is excited about growing up. She speaks so frankly about things like getting breasts: “I wish they would just come in! I’m not sure I like this in-between thing.” Omigosh. I would have died before saying this to my mom, but I completely understand where she is right now. I remember looking down at my own budding breasts, feeling exposed because they were so soft and vulnerable under the red ribbed shirt with the zipper that was one of the unfortunate fashions of 1972.

Today the Princess wore one of her new bras (of the sports-type variety; we bought a few frillier items, too) under a white t-shirt. She came downstairs and asked if it was a problem that you could see through the shirt that she was wearing the bra. No, I said, that’s the whole point.

“Last year, Stinky Boy teased someone about a bra that showed.”

I pondered how one might respond to such a comment from a fifth grade boy. The Princess has two teachers, job-sharing, one of whom is also the Assistant Principal, Mr. Tough Talk. I said, “Honey, if Stinky Boy, or anyone else, mentions your underthings, here’s what I suggest you do. Look him right in the eye and say, ‘Why don’t we discuss this with Mr. Tough Talk?'”

Her eyes lit and a smile spread across her beautiful face. “Mom, *that* is a great idea.” She practiced it. “Stinky Boy, why don’t we discuss this with Mr. Tough Talk?”

As I dropped her off at school and saw her run to join her friends on the playground, I was bowled over by her beauty, her strength, her frankness, but most of all her awakeness.

When did I wake up?