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...over-educated and under-experienced, or so they say...

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Rock Eaters

So the other day I'm walking through the grocery store with my daughter, Hope. As I pass the meats and head over to the produce, she taps me on the elbow and says, "Mom! Look at that guy!" As I turn my eyes in the direction she indicated, I notice a muscle bound man, just shy of six feet tall, wearing a yellow T-shirt with cut-off sleeves (you know, so all humans can properly admire the glorious result of his laborious self-sculpting), tight red shorts (that seemed tighter and shorter than what seems socially permissible), and some Nikes with the cutest little ankle socks (particularly for one who intends to show masculinity through what others may consider brawn). Not caring too much about this human spectacle she pointed out, I simply said (in my don't-bug-me-with-trifles-because-I-hate-the-grocery-store-and-want-to-get-out-of-here-as-fast-as-possible voice), "Yep. He must lift weights alot," and then kept on walking.

Now, it's important for you to understand that Hope turned 10 in July. Until recently, she has been a tomboy showing no interest in the opposite gender for any reason other than she wholeheartedly considers herself their equal in both sports and matters of the intellect: she can throw a football better than most of your sons (which is something she didn't get from me) and she skipped two grades in Math this year (also something she didn't get from me), placing herself in the same category as the boy genius who, since kindergarten, has said he wants to be a geologist (What kid says that? Geologist? Really? ...at 5? I'm not sure I even knew what that was until college). She is, in her soul, as strong and independent as I, a 35 year old woman, still strive to be. This is something about her that I both admire and encourage.

Over the past few months, however, I have noticed that the choice in clothing is a bit more feminine than usual (still not frills and lace, but pink is more frequent than it used to be), the hair is done more often, jewelry has been making an appearance and, as expected, I'm starting to hear about what boys on the television are visually pleasing ("I think he's cute, Mom. Do you think he's cute? I think he's cute."). So... unfortunately for me, I suspect puberty is a hop, skip, and a jump from here; and as we stepped into the produce aisle, leaving Musclebound Mania behind, it occurred to me that for the first time in ten years she noticed a) a dude in the grocery store and b) a Rock Eater at that.

Knowing my daughter the way I do and realizing, somewhere between the meat section and the produce aisle, that her fascination with Muscle Mania over there may have had more to do with her transition from child to tween than I would like to admit. Pondering this further as we stroll through the cereal aisle, I start telling myself that I need to pay more attention to these possible teaching opportunities. Watching her grow the way I do, I am absolutely certain that Rock Eater will be her "type of man" even less than he is mine (and if she is smart, she will heed my wisdom, and if I am smart, I will impart said wisdom upon her while she still thinks I'm cool).

Deep in thought, I take my place in line at the check-stand and start putting my groceries on the counter when Hope suddenly taps my arm again. As I look up at her, I can see that her star-gazed eyes are focused on something ahead of me in line. I turn my head only to see, yet again, Muscle Mania one person between us, paying for his groceries. I can see his six dozen eggs and his countless cans of tuna waiting to be bagged up as he turns his checkbook to the cashier and says, "Can you help me with this? It's been a long time since I've written a check and I don't remember how to do it." At this point, I nonchalantly return my focus to the groceries and say, "Hope, let me tell you something about men like that." She looks up at me, as if she knows she's about to hear something good, and I continue, "Men like that spend too much time looking in the mirror and not enough time cracking a book. In other words, little one, they may be fun to look at for a short while, but you will never be able to hold a good conversation with them." She thought about it for a moment, the stargazedness leaving her eyes, and as she looks at him this time she says, "oooOOOoooh... So that's what you mean when you say certain men eat rocks!" I smile to myself and feel the thrill of successful instruction, "Yes, sweetheart, that's exactly what I mean when I say, some dudes eat rocks."

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