The Parenting Circus

When you have five kids, life generally feels like a circus.  When you go out with five kids it really feels like a circus what with all the spectators and gawkers.  When you meet up with a friend who has her own four kids, two of whom also hail from Vietnam, I think there is some legal qualification you meet to actually be declared a circus.

Or at least the freak show.

At any rate, the people in the mall seemed to think we were a curiosity.  One man, himself definitely not a “white guy” (middle eastern maybe?) asked where my boys were from and then wanted to know what the difference is between Koreans and Vietnamese. 

“The eyes, maybe?” he suggested.

“I really don’t know,” I smiled at him, and then he gave all the kids lollipops.  Obviously he isn’t aware that I watched one of my children nearly choke to death on a lollipop and, therefore, only let the oldest four eat them if they are seated, and don’t let the baby eat them at all yet.

But really, this all isn’t the part of the parenting circus that has been on my mind the past several days.  No, what I’ve been thinking about the most is the whole balancing act that is parenthood.

A big part of the balancing act, of course, is time.  I must find time for each of my children, time for my husband, time for my church responsibilities, time for myself, and time to prevent my house from looking like a post-performance circus tent.  Lately I have really been struggling with the time thing.  I feel like I am behind on everything I need and want to be doing.

But that isn’t even the specific balancing act I want to talk about today.

No, today I want to talk about . . . gulp . . . don’t laugh.

Please.  You can’t laugh.

Well, okay, yes you can.

Today I want to talk about the balancing act of the unibrow.

There.  I said it.  Yes, I have been walking the unibrow tightrope.

First, just let me say, I think my girls are beautiful.  Truly beautiful inside and out.

But that doesn’t change the fact that my oldest two have had something of a unibrow for . . . umm . . . forever.  We’re not talking Frida Kahlo density or anything.  No, not nearly that pronounced, but still . . .

So when do you bring this to your child’s attention?  Our society is so image conscious already, and it just never felt right to point it out to them, to make them too aware of perceived physical flaws too soon.  I don’t want to create self-consciousness unnecessarily over such a petty, minor thing.  At the same time, however, I don’t want them to find themselves in some situation someday in which a peer might be mean and tease them about this.  That would be a lose-lose situation since they would feel bad about the mean comment and then feel worse when they find out that their own mother has realized it for years and, oh by the way, could have fixed that problem in a matter of seconds, and DIDN’T!!!

So there is the balancing act of the unibrow.  I don’t want to make them feel needlessly self-conscious, but I want to protect them from the unique brand of mean that can be children.  I didn’t want to start brow waxing at age three, thereby over-emphasizing the importance of physical appearance, but I don’t want other kids asking them about their pet caterpillar.

What to do?

Well, I’m not actually asking you what I should do.  I’ve already done it.

About a year ago I bought some of those eyebrow shaping strips you can get at any grocery or drug store, figuring my eyebrows could use a little maintenance and I could use them on the UniCrew.  They sat in my vanity drawer, unused, until we moved, at which time they wound up in a bathroom drawer; and there they have been, unopened, ever since.

I have been tweezing, thank you very much.

A few days back I about pulled out the tweezers again, but then decided it was time to put that little black box of mystery adhesive strips to work.  As I fixed up my eyebrows, I once again wondered if I should just go ahead and take care of the girls’ eyebrows as well.  I didn’t.

The next day, however, as I was drying their hair to get ready for church, I decided it was time to get off the tightrope.

I started with A~, dried her hair, sprayed it a little bit, then asked her to look at me while I pulled out the little black box.

“I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed,” I said, “but your eyebrows kinda grow together just a little bit over the bridge of your nose.

She heaved the Sigh of Reticent Embarrassment and Mortification.

“I know,” she said.  “It’s bothered me for a long time.  I’ve been afraid it makes me look like Count Olaf.”

iiiiiiiiieeeeeeeeeeeee . . . splat

That would be the sound of me falling off the unibrow tightrope.  Of course, it happened months or even years ago, and I’ve been lying flat on my face without knowing it all this time.

I told her that if anything like that ever bothers her again she should tell me. Please, tell me!  Because sometimes there is a very easy solution.  I mean, no boobs for your sixteenth birthday (that part was only in my head), but let me know so we can see what can be done.

I had L~ come into my bathroom next, and I went through the same routine with her.  She didn’t seem to be bothered either by the fact that she had a unibrow or by the fact that I was calling attention to it by removing it.  I think she was just happy to be doing “girl stuff” in my bathroom.  That girl is all about shoes, shopping, and at-home spa treatments.

So I think . . .think . . . I did a decent job balancing on L~’s unibrow tightrope while lying in a pool of my own gore underneath A’~’s.

Gah!  This parenting stuff is hard.

I’m just glad the skimpy, sequined unitard is optional.

And George, if you’re out there, Tewt the Newt is rocking his sequins.

12 thoughts on “The Parenting Circus

  1. I think you did just fine. It’s like you said, you don’t want them discovering that it is something peers will tease about and then learning that you knew that and did nothing to teach them how to take care of the minor problem.

    I haven’t had to deal with unibrows, but I have had to become very vocal about certain clothes my girls are choosing to wear. Doing battle with the “world” and what is deemed appropriate for teenagers is getting tiresome.

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  2. I think what you did was perfect – having them hang out in the bathroom with you and then bringing it up casually, like, ‘let’s do this girly thing together.’ Well played.

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  3. metaphase

    Sounds gracefully done to me. Ah, the wierdness that is growing up. I don’t look all that forward to those times with either my daughter or my son. I think they each come with strange adjustments of their own.

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  4. Ok, I did start laughing when I ran into uni-brow, but stopped when it tied in to the girls. I think you handled it in such a perfect manner – and hopefully A does know now that she really can talk to you about that stuff (yeah, cause pre-teen or teen girls are just that easy, right?)!

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  5. Oh this is an issue in my life too! I really seriously know this is coming down the line for Addy who has some crazy eyebrows. I feel so relieved that now I have a very PC balancing act way of handling it. Thanks for that!

    So onto the nitty gritty. Did it hurt? Did they freak? I am thinking of my own reaction to wax and OUCH!

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  6. Nancy

    Right, Katie, mention Grandpa’s eyebrows and freak them out beyond the point of recovery!

    I can just picture them, imagining themselves with handlebar eyebrows.

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  7. You did great. 🙂 My mom never talked to me about anything remotely like this, so I always had to figure stuff out on my own. I hope I handle it with Chloe later on as well as you did.

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  8. Good job, mom. Wow. I had the uni and didn’t wax or anything until – wait for it – COLLEGE. And then when I did I looked so different that people were like “have you lost weight?” “did you get a haircut?” Oh if only I had started earlier.

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  9. HA! My good friend and I joke how I should go to school for hair and waxing. My mom never did my hair, I didn’t discover wax until my sweet hair stylist suggested it FOR MY WEDDING! I was 19 and never heard of waxing…where were my friends and why did no one tell me. Regardless, to this day I have a hard time keeping in the eyebrow habit.
    So, all but one of the girls have serious eyebrows, the twins have sideburns, and well I need help 🙂 They really should have a mother’s class for waxing, shaving, hair and make-up as this mom would be signing up now just to get a head start.

    BTW, your girls are so beautiful inside and out!

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