A few days ago, my older daughter, Ilse, asked, “Mommy, when I am going to wear a bra?” I replied, “when your breasts start growing.” While I was calm in my reply, deep down, I was thinking, “OMG! SHE’S 6. Why is she thinking about bras”?! Of course, I knew where it came from, she had observed one of her cousins wearing one a few weeks ago. Naturally, it sparked her curiosity and to a certain extent, my dread. My eldest is growing up.
It’s not that I don’t want Ilse to grow up, it’s just that her growing up is happening faster than my brain can rationalize. In just a few short years, Ilse morphed from a toddler in a tiara and tutu to a girl in jean shorts and a bandana headband. She is more chic than I ever was at that age! Now, she is asking me about bras. Is it me, or is the average age for wearing bras getting younger?
For comparison, when I was a little girl, wearing a bra did not come up in conversation until I was closer to 9 or 10-years-old. Even then, I was dreading it. I did not want to wear one, because I didn’t want to grow up just yet. Two of my dear mom-friends have daughters that started wearing bra-type garments at 8-years-old. There was no consensus on why their daughters started wearing the garments when they did, only that they had.
I should have seen the curiosity coming. Ilse is quite inquisitive, and we have open conversations about anything she wants to talk about, from why having pets is a BIG responsibility to why people die. The question about bras was a natural progression of an ongoing conversation we have had about our bodies and how people’s bodies develop at different times and that no two bodies are the same. I know it’s a conversation that we will continue to have as she gets older and as she heads into puberty, because she and (eventually) Alice need to know that conversations about our bodies are healthy and normal. There’s no time like the present or even at any age to have conversations about our bodies.
It took so much self-control to not say the same words I heard growing up, “You don’t have to worry about bras yet,” because there was not going to be a “right” time to talk about bras, even when I wish that time was a few years later. For Ilse, the “right” time to talk about bras was a few days ago. My husband and I tell Ilse all the time that being a kid doesn’t last forever. Sometimes, we sure wish it did and that she would be our little girl just a little longer.