Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Scarlet Pimple

Big Sis has a pimple on her nose. It's notable, right smack dab in the middle of her allergy-induced nasal crease.

She had a pimple last month, too, on her cheek. So when I saw this one, I groaned inwardly. Really? Already?

My dismay comes in part because I am forty, still with pimples and now with wrinkles, wondering why I couldn't trade one phase for the other inevitable one. I wish for my daughters the clean-palette skin of a fresh-faced Noxzema model, the complexion I never felt I had, despite the mildness of my acne for most of my life. My pimples were enough of an issue in my teen years to garner the attention of dermatologists and the then-new technologies of Retin-A and topical antibiotics, but nothing worked better than letting my skin just be: washing it, drying it, and then liberating it from my nervous, probing fingers. My daily routine of wearing makeup now is a function of my lack of confidence in the beauty of my own bare skin. I shudder that I might project "skinsecurities" on my daughters.

I don't want to make a mountain out of a whitehead. But I found myself cringing at the possibility that little boil atop Big Sis's nose represented the frontier between worlds of innocence and confidence and of peer ridicule and self-consciousness.

Lo and behold, she came home from school yesterday reporting that two boys pointed out her pimple in class. She promptly but unemotionally tattled on them, and they were scolded by their teacher.

No one, my daughter observed, makes fun of the boy in her class with a birth mark, though, or the girl in class with a skin condition. I would hope not, I told her. We often can't help how our bodies are--tall or short, slight or ample, clear-complected or blotchy, including all parts or missing some.

My second grader, who wears unmatching socks and prints, patterns and florals, with hair loose and unkempt or in wacky braids or pigtails and who has a refreshing sense of her own style, is too young for pimples. She is too young to worry about her appearance and to wonder what others might think or say.

And in not so many words, she reassures me she is too young to worry about pimples. Because she isn't worrying. As tempting as it was for me to squeeze both the pus and potential insecurities (most of them mine) out of that zit, we taught her to clean it with soap and leave it alone. She has. She's even, I daresay, forgotten about it.

Because other things are more important to her, like Pajama Day at school tomorrow, and what we're having for dinner. A fourth wiggly tooth. Her latest drawing and her little sister's kindergarten shots.

Pimples, she convinces me: easy come, easy go.


Betsy Noel said...

i wish i was that cool

Mama Deb said...

M has had a couple too!!! And his hair gets oily, though I attribute that to some autism-related inability to properly detox. I have to admit that this pickin' Mama has tried to do the squeeze, much to my poor little guy's dismay. Seriously...it seems way too early for this to be happening!!