Picture this. I’m window shopping with my lovely, tall 12-year-old and we’re matching each other, stride by stride. The wind blows back our brown hair. People pass, cars pass, and we don’t notice ’cause we’re together, striding, shopping, doing our girl thing. Like sisters in the sun.

And then it happens. A guy, a 40-something guy, all greying hair and sweatbands, is heading toward us.

Confession: I’ve gotten used to male appreciation over the course of a female lifetime. Even married, even in my 40s, I work out hard. I color my hair. I’ve been called Yummy Mummy more than once. I like to think I still got it.

So when that up-down scan comes, I expect it. Until, that is, it lands, squarely, with a splat – on my child.


I remember being 12. I felt awkward and gangly and too booby for my own good. My mother had conspired with her hairdresser to give me the Kristy McNichol special and let’s just say that I wasn’t at my best – yet. Somehow, though, at that I’m-way-younger-than-I-look stage, I still started turning heads – even if I was vaguely aware of it.

But that memory only came after much tossing and turning. In the moment of swallowing the fact that my daughter is now more attractive to men than I am, I didn’t know what to think. Or feel. But feel I did, and fast.

My emotions went something like this.

Fury: Get your filthy eyes off my Little Girl, you Perv, before I dropkick you in the balls!

Fear: OMG I need to protect my baby from a world populated with pedophiles!

Guilt: It’s all my fault for saying yes to mascara!

And finally, Self-Hate: Ack! I’m Old!

Now, two years later, I’ve calmed down some. When it comes to the daughter-ogling – from boys to men, all of whom seem to have eyes with a brain of their own – I tend to squirm and ignore. But the more inappropriate leers do bear pointing out – for both our sakes.

I tell my girl that she has woman power she can use to protect herself. Ultimately, you can’t control the male response to your physical self (I, for one, will never get used to the slime factor coming from men who could be my kid’s grandfather, let alone father), but it’s important info to be aware of. You can use it to keep yourself safe by considering the clothes you wear, the people you surround yourself with, and the purpose with which you walk. It also reminds you that sometimes, you are judged by your shell, which is only part of who you are.

As for me, there’s an American Beauty trend here: youth is magnetic to men and middle age, less so. Celebs set the tone – Yoohoo! Donald Trump, Woody Allen, Harrison Ford, Al Pacino, Jack Nicholson, over here! (For awhile, Demi Moore topped my compassion list because unbeknownst to her, age conspired against her from day one.) But the Lolita phenomenon is not just the stuff of Hollywood. The fact is, men are hardwired to notice babes, and babes are typically young.

As it turns out, that first perv episode had value. It made me face the inevitability of aging. Despite working hard to look my best, I have no illusions about regaining my youth. With age comes lines, and erasing those won’t reverse them. With age comes the wisdom to accept my looks as they gracefully change. With age comes the understanding that my body, and others’ reactions to it, does not now, and contrary to what I may have once thought, never did, define me.

And yet, both of the gals in this household are adjusting to the passage of time – one who’s not quite ready for the attention the world is just starting to shine her way, and one who (if she’s perfectly honest) is not quite ready to give it up.



About randi

Randi Chapnik Myers & Mara Shapiro don't get fazed by their teens. At least they try not to.


  1. My 12 year old just got her first real phone call (yes, people still do that) from a boy she likes. I was all giddy with excitement for her. And… I was really glad he picked up the phone and called her instead of texting her. Obviously that boy has been raised right. It made me feel a little nostalgic for my teen years. Somehow I just don’t get all that excited when my husband calls me. And he mostly texts me anyway. Sigh.

    • wow, i love that. sadly, those calls do devolve into texts soon. or skype/ichat – that’s the real face time communication for these kids.

  2. I think it’s hard to wrap our heads around the beauty and youth of our babies. It’s the ages old question of mothers and daughters, and who is the fairest of them all. We have wisdom, which they don’t have. And anyways, being ogled is creepy.

  3. Oh, how I love reading your posts. I soooooo understand that feeling, when suddenly one day you realize you’re not quite the hot stuff young chick you used to be.

    I hate when that happens…. 🙂

  4. yeah, sucks, huh?

  5. I just had a mini vacation at the beach with my gorgeous 12 and 15.5 yr old daughters and was GOBSMACKED in the face with a paddle by all that you describe. Picture grown men ogling, cabana boys offering (alcoholic) drinks, valet’s scrambling to open doors, bellman hopping to grab luggage… and none of it for ME! I may as well have been absent from this group. By the time we checked out I was sending the 15.5 yo to deal with the help as it was so much faster that way and we got better service. Yes, it made me feel awful if I’m being honest. Happy my girls have that “power” but sad about the lack of management skills. Those skills take years to acquire and by the time you master them, the blond is coming from a bottle. I came home and signed up for a half marathon. I may look old but I am determined not to feel it entirely!

  6. Yep. I was definitely being brief in my post. All that you describe is happening here as well. Thanks so much for sharing!

  7. Such a good post. A lot of Mum’s to teenage girls don’t talk about the feelings that come with their daughters growing older; the worry you have and (like you said) feel awareness that you’re getting older! I still think you’re a total yummy mummy x

  8. Wow, this is a really honest, and great, post. Thank you. As the mom of a 14 year old I was feeling all of that as I read your words. Thanks for sharing that…

  9. I loved this post. My daughter is a woman in her own right now, at nineteen and we have been walking the road you describe for several years. It’s nice to see her increasing confidence, her “management skills” with men that look or approach, and her ever developing sense of her own feminine self. It does, without question, make me feel old. This summer, she is the same age I was when I met her father. EEP.

  10. Thanks so much. And that must be really interesting, seeing your daughter have real relationships.


  1. […] aging gracefully and accepting herself the way she was made? And since I don’t want my man turned on by prepubescent girls, what was I doing resembling […]

  2. […] me. We were both in the throes of pretending blood wasn’t dripping down that delicate lobe. My not-so-little girl grinned through clenched teeth, through pink face. Pride […]

Speak Your Mind