I am pleased to report that Lilly, our 10-year-old, is enjoying her time at overnight camp at this very moment. In fact… she looked ever-so-happy in a picture posted on their site yesterday… in a bikini …the kind that I don’t allow her to wear.
That’s right; I’m one of “those” mothers. My daughter can pick out whatever she wants at the store but knows that I have veto power. Like the president. Only without any provisions to override.
Except she has now figured out a way to get around my veto; borrow the forbidden bikini while she’s at camp. Away from Mama Dictator’s eyes. Very clever. However, she must have forgotten I’d see the photo when she was mugging for the camera.
I was rendered speechless when her smiling face appeared on my screen. Momentarily. I mean, I had packed her for camp and the bathing suit in question did not look familiar. And then I started laughing. Because if my kid is going to rebel, there is no better place than at camp. Camp is where my kids do the most growing up. The most experimentation. The most exploration. Of themselves as Jews. And of emerging adults. It’s meant to be a safe place for all that and more.
Why do I object to the bikini? Because she’s just a kid. She’s got plenty of time to scamper around in a two-piece swimsuit. I want her to feel comfortable jumping in the water without worrying that her top is going to come up as she is diving down. I want her to not worry that some idiot boy is going to swim up behind her and undo her top. Because I cherish modesty as a positive Jewish value. And because…
Because I’m just the tiniest bit jealous that my 10-year-old daughter has the kind of body that looks fantastic in anything while I have struggled with my body image since August 1984. I consider the fact that Lilly is comfortable in her body as a tribute to the fact that I have never once made any negative comment about the way I feel or look.
Which is why I’m not going to say anything about the bikini. And next summer, should she ask to wear one, I will remember the confident, radiant girl in the picture. And pass on my right to veto.