Friday, October 9, 2009

The flour baby

My daughter is a sophomore and is currently taking the one required trimester of health. It's been an interesting week in that class, for both of us.

On Tuesday, I had to go to the store to buy a five-pound bag of flour which she promptly named Kadence Lily. Yes, she named a sack of flour. Why? you ask. Because for a week she has to pretend it's a baby. It - sorry, Kadence - goes to school with her on Monday, and then she drops her baby off at "daycare," which is her health teacher's room, for the day. When she's performing next weekend with her marching band, guess who gets to babysit. Oh, yes, Grandma Sharon. I am expected to take that sack of flour - sorry again, Kadence - to the competition and sit with it in the bleachers while I watch my daughter perform. I've already scouted the territory of, "Well, what if I just leave it - her - at home? Who's going to know?"

"MOM!" my daughter responded with mock indignation. "You have to take her!"

Yes, my daughter knows it's not a REAL baby. (Even if we did buy some onesies to dress it in. She swears she's not the only one doing that, and I do believe her.) But she wants this to be an authentic experience. She wants to play her part, so I have to play mine out of respect for her. (I'm taking a big tote bag to the band competition and Kadence is going to be at the bottom of that.)

Today, she came home from school and said that she'd been given a handout with diagrams that demonstrated how to do a breast exam on herself.

"Mom, it was an old woman with real saggy boobs and that's just wrong! I didn't need to see that!" We had a good laugh over it. (Especially too, because the handouts had been miscopied and on the flip side were diagrams demonstrating the proper method for checking oneself for testicular cancer. Imagine that in the hands of a 15-year-old girl.)

But after we got done chuckling, I talked to her about how important those self checks can be, and how frustrating they can be. It's difficult to know - at least for me - what's just me and what might be the beginnings of a cancerous tumor. I told her that if she actually started doing them now, maybe by the time that the threat of cancer is a lot more real for her, she'll have a much better idea as to what is her and what isn't. Practice surely helps.

Which got me thinking . . . Isn't that what we, as parents, try to do with our kids? Aren't we trying to teach them - while we have them under the safety of our own roofs - how to handle the twisted, slippery roads of life, both through our own experiences and theirs, as they grow? Don't we want them to practice their decision making skills so that hopefully when they're out on their own they will have honed those skills well enough that they'll keep themselves (relatively) safe, happy, and healthy? Of course that's what we're trying to do.

So bring on the flour babies. I'll babysit Kadence Lily whenever she asks.

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