Just Write: Not Yet

July 9, 2013


We descend on the lap pool, which is empty except for a young employee. She already looks bored.

My husband dons his goggles, serious about his excercise. Me, I just play around.

I do a few laps of breast stroke and then catch my breath, eyeing the girl.

“This has got to be the worst job at the resort,” I say, gesturing to the tiny two lane adult lap pool. “Babysitting old farts as they duff around in the pool.”

She laughs. “Kinda. Yeah.”

I swim a few more laps. Pause.

“Do they at least let you read on the job?”

“They do. I ordered my college textbooks online yesterday. They should arrive soon.”

“Holy Bejeezus, you’re reading textbooks? Whatever happened to the trashy beach read?”

My husband thrashes down the lane next to me. He swims like he means it, but it’s not pretty.

“God, you kick up water, Frog-man.” I say, peering into his goggle-y eyes. He’s winded, and we stand together at the end of the lap pool.

“You know who’s elegant in the water?” I flick a wayward bug–a floater–onto the pool deck. “D. She’s something, you know? It’s crazy…especially butterfly. She’s gorgeous when she does that, so streamlined. Those powerful shoulders.”

“Yeah, she’s incredible.” He stretches identical shoulders and adjusts his goggles. “One more lap,” he says. “I’m at 13.”

“Ha,” I say. “Two more. You know you won’t quit until you hit 15.”

“You’re right. Gah. I’m weird about numbers.”

As we dry off and prepare to leave, I tell the girl, “Good luck today. I hope it goes fast.”

She laughs. “Probably not. I have golf cart training this afternoon.” Eyeroll. “Even though they gave me the key to the golf carts two days ago.”


Miss D. returns from the jog pink-faced and peckish. Hubs reaches for a towel to wipe the threads of sweat running down his neck. “We waited too long,” he says. “Already heating up out there.”

I plop ice cubes into tall glasses of water. “Lemon?”

“S’okay,” D. says and glugs down the full glass. “I’m going up to shower.”

“I forgot why I don’t run more often,” my husband says. “My freakin’ left knee. I must have torn it at some point. Maybe snowboarding.” He riffles through the medicine cabinet for Aleve.

“Maybe lower impact stuff for a while.” I  park myself across from him at the kitchen counter. “How’d she do?”

“Pretty good. We had to walk a bit near the end, but she did fine. And guess what she said? She said, ‘I’m glad we’re doing this because I want to…'” he leans in and whispers, “Lose a little bit of weight.”

“No. She did not say that. Tell me she didn’t say that. Tell me she didn’t say that. No. Who the fuck said one single word to her? Who did that to her?” I’m suddenly overheated, blood boiling, but my stomach is ice. Tears spill and I keep shaking my head, like if I shake hard enough, this will go away.

“What?” my husband says, baffled. “Hey. It’s okay. She said it really matter-of-fact. Calm.” He looks at me like I’ve sprouted two heads. “If I’d known you’d react this way, I never would have told you.”

“No. You don’t get it. And you won’t,” I hiss, still shaking my head. “It’s just…not yet, okay?. She’s only eleven. Not yet, not yet for this fucking…rat-trap.”

I call Mama and we cry together because she knows. She had years of knowing. Years that almost broke the both of us.


We’re 5 minutes early for swimming lessons. I watch as D. covers herself with a towel. She’s so wary of her growing-like-gangbusters body: the breasts that have lives of their own and the hips that suddenly sway when she walks. Her legs bear the scars to prove it–adjusting to hips is clumsy and painful business. It’s almost like she has to learn how to walk all over again. Bactine and Band-Aids spill from our cabinets.

Miss M.’s lesson has already started, and I study my older daughter out of the corner of my eye as she sits next to me on a pool lounge. She’s got her arms laced around her sides, securing the towel firmly, and looks out at the bodies bobbing in the pool.

What is she thinking, this quicksilver girl of mine? If I ask her, would she even tell me the truth?

I pass her the sunscreen. “So. Are you excited for middle school?”

“Yeah. I am.”

I hold out my palm and she squirts sunscreen; I go to work on her back. I don’t know why I even bother with the sunscreen, since it doesn’t seem to work on her–she’s almost sienna-colored and it’s early July. But I am her mother, and mothers endorse sunscreen. I spread it on the broad scape of her shoulders. The shoulders that launch her airborne out of the water like God’s own missile. Does she love those shoulders like I do? Will she ever?

“It’s going to be exciting starting a new school. You’ll make so many new friends.”

“And of course they will be cool,” she says. “Because I, certainly, am one of the cool kids.”

“Of course you are.”

“It’s so hot, I feel like I’m going to blow up,” she says. “But it’s not so bad.”

Right then I want to blurt out all the things roaring in my head–the things that are mysteries and the things that are bad and the things that you think are bad when you are young but really aren’t and the things that are so bad that you pray they’ll be over soon. Those bricks in the road ahead of her that, no matter how I fight them, are becoming solid for her now. They roar in her, too.

Her swimming teacher arrives, clipboard in hand. D. flicks off her shoes and hands me the towel. She launches.

“Hey, do you want your towel?” I call after her.

“Nah. S’okay. I’ll dry off after. Bye, Mom.”

“Bye, bunny. Swim like the wind.”

She turns around and pulls a face, but then she smiles. “How can you swim like wind in the water? Dork!”

But she can. That girl can. And she does. She’s radiant. She is mine.

{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Abby July 9, 2013 at 5:32 am

And you are so lucky that she is yours. ;)


Shannon July 9, 2013 at 6:28 am

I have watched one daughter grow into a woman’s body and nearly a woman’s mind. The other daughter is just starting that journey. Sometimes it is really hard to watch, but more times, it is amazing. I cannot believe that they are mine.
I love your descriptions of her. Your love shines through the words.


Jennifer July 9, 2013 at 8:46 am

I’m with you. Tears and no, no, no, no, no. And so much more than a dad will ever be able to understand.


Jamie July 9, 2013 at 10:19 am

I am right there with you…no, she did NOT say that and who put that thought in her head and how can we make it so that thought never crosses her brain again? Obviously, I have no answers. But I understand.


Jenna July 9, 2013 at 11:39 am

Ach . . . who said something to that girl?? Just keeping loving her as I know you will though, and she’ll be fine. More than fine! Your words have me tingling, as usual.


Arnebya July 9, 2013 at 11:45 am

Already. That’s that bullshit, son. Aldamnready. It shouln’t be like this already, for our growing babes. It is nothing that we’ve done or said, but it’s all that is around them: be skinnier, exercise, watch what you eat. There is no emphasis on health, just thin. Fuck thin. Fuck judgment, fuck thoughts of weight loss at 11. God, how I wish we could let them all see/know/believe/understand their beauty. Their absolute beauty, inside and out.


TKW July 9, 2013 at 4:17 pm


You and Jen and I can can hang out in the “Fuck you, calling me fatty” club together. And find a way to make it beautiful. Because they are.


Samantha Angela July 9, 2013 at 12:10 pm

That’s got to be really hard to deal with, knowing that your daughter is dealing with body image issues.
I think my own issues started when I was 10 and it took me at least 15 years before I started to get over it and have some real body confidence and not feel like I was fat and ugly all the time.
I don’t even know what I would say if I were in your situation. You can set a good example, for sure, but you can’t shelter her from this fat-phobic society that puts looks above all else.
I just hope that your daughter can be part of the generation that changes that.


TKW July 9, 2013 at 4:20 pm


I want that so much for her. I have been SO careful not to let my personal garbage bleed into hers. And yet. Here we are. I am terrified.


Biz July 9, 2013 at 12:19 pm

Men will never understand, but we do! I loved this post – and I hope that she loves her strong shoulders! :D


TKW July 9, 2013 at 4:10 pm


She doesn’t know what she has. But I do.


Rob July 9, 2013 at 2:41 pm

When my daughter was ten, she said she was too old for a good night hug and kiss. When she was twelve, she told me she was ready for her own apartment. That weight thing came later, and trust me, she didn’t have an extra ounce. And, I’ll stop there, because you already have enough to digest.

It’s hard watching our children grow out of their childhood. Somehow, we made it through adolescence and the teen years.


TKW July 9, 2013 at 4:07 pm


The girl is 5’5 1/2 and 115 pounds. Fat? I think not. I think it’s all the changes to her body (and dang, they are coming fast) that have her so flummoxd that she doesn’t know what to do. Heck, I don’t know what to do either.

You are a lucky woman that your daughter made it to ten before she eschewed affection. The minute Miss D. walked, it was over for cuddles. Both of my girls have “too much to do” and I have to accept that affection comes on their terms.


TKW July 9, 2013 at 4:12 pm



Velva July 9, 2013 at 5:16 pm

Your young woman is going to be just fine…..Puberty stinks, starting middle school is scary but, at the end of the day she will rock!



Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes July 10, 2013 at 1:37 am

I fear this. I fear this so very much…


Alison July 10, 2013 at 3:41 am

I hope my boys won’t get body issues, because boys get them too, don’t they? We need to be model citizens here, watch what we say, what we do. Ugh, parenting is so hard.

But your girl? Your girl sounds like she has a good head on her strong, beautiful shoulders.


Tiffany July 10, 2013 at 5:18 am

Oh, Kitch. I would have had the same reaction to what D said. I am going through everything you said with Gabe right now. I want to just put him in a bubble until he is 30. Xoxo


naptimewriting July 10, 2013 at 3:11 pm

I remember reading that the first time comment on a woman’s body we’re teaching our kids that women’s bodies are public property. My father-in-law did that. Once. About a woman he said “is usually big but now she looks fat.” And now my seven year old boy is noticing bodies. Not saying he didn’t before, but the only way he’d heard “fat” was about essential nutrients.

When I was 13, I wanted to diet away breasts. Because they brought unwelcome attention. I wish someone had told me breasts don’t go away, but what does are 13-year-old boy comments.
Puberty sucks.


TKW July 11, 2013 at 6:28 am

Puberty. Sucks. Donkey. Balls.


elizabeth July 10, 2013 at 6:09 pm

I read a really depressing statistic back in 2001/02 that noted that girls can first start feeling/expressing dissatisfaction with their bodies at the age of 6, so from that perspective, at least, she’s a late bloomer?

Seriously, check your email soon. I’m sending you some stuff that I hope might help.


TKW July 11, 2013 at 6:29 am

Thank you, Elizabeth.


Rudri Bhatt Patel @ Being Rudri July 22, 2013 at 10:24 am

Oh, this post hits home. The other day, my 7 1/2 year-old, says “I do not want to show my tummy. Because it is too fat.” I did a double-take when she said that. She’s a long-limbed girl that is tall and slender.
What?!? Using the word fat at her age. It is appalling. Where is this idea born? And how do we explain it to our children knowing the only real answer is to know that whatever they are and however they look, is enough?


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