Showers, Dresses, & Bodies


1. Splash

Lots of wonderful, silly things happen in our showers. We are (still) a family-get-naked-shower-group, where, to save time, I shower with my kids. It began when my girl was just a tot–I bathed with her, the special Japanese way, where you support their small neck while gently folding their ears back to not let in any water. She learned deep bathtubs at one-month-old, also learning buoyancy and the weightlessness of trust.

She later graduated to showers–Now, with toddling baby boy joining our shower, the scrubbing and shampooing life gets even funnier. I swear I said, just yesterday, “Do not pee on your brother.” I know.

In spite of sounding as crunchy as crunchy as a handful of sunflower seed trail mix, (but maybe, probably, I really am), heaps of fine and normal body-talk occurs. Some of my best parenting, I swear, happens in that shower. Gloria Steinem, my mom, Raffi, and the cast of Rent would be proud. With the addition of our boy and his circumcised penis, my girl understands girls/boys. It’s not a thing. We may even help save embarrassment later! Let’s keep all this body stuff on the table, really, as it pertains to them now, before the messy onslaught that can be “teens”. This is the way to go for us. In fact, it is quite a normalcy, in Japan, that the whole family bathes together. This is the land of public baths. Even the monkeys hang out in the tub! We know each other’s bodies; I tell you, there are worse things.

And no, we’ll not keep that up longer than appropriate. But for now, anyway, there is a comfort. There is laughter. There are correct names for body parts–no peepee and wee. No ninnies or whatever else people say. There are breasts and nipples and “jajinas”, damnit.

(I did correct my girl when she was just beside herself, kvelling at how cute Jude’s “jagina” was. Also, when she complimented his butt (Nope, honey, his PENIS. Yup, still his penis). Us girls have been in fits of giggles seeing our boy spend the greater part of a shower touching himself. Sometimes all you can do is laugh, use correct words, and wail “Baby Beluga”. At the end of the day, it’s fine. And everybody’s squeaky clean.


2. Powder & a Sheath


I hadn’t worn the dress in years. This is the aquamarine tea-length dress I could wear with back and tea with the queen, without trying too hard. It is v-length; it is flattering; I feel like one of the very gorgeous, vaporous women in The Stepford Wives. I could be an instant-walk-on; such is my love for this dress. It wasn’t even expensive or anything. I think it may have been my single-ever purchase from Dress Barn or another such unfortunately-named shop for women.


Glen Close in Stepford Waves. Gooood stuff~

Anyway, I wore it out to teach in today. My daughter LOVED it, exclaiming that I looked so beautiful that I ought to have stockings with it. She loves fancy and I was it! I clicked my heels all the way to K’s school for drop-off. Midway, I looked down and felt a bit big. Was it that I was wearing a non-nursing bra? Was it surprise that my breasts still inhabit the area above my belt? I had some definite cleavage. Not terrible, but enough that I, modest Mel, noticed.


2. Stick Out Yer Chest

So I noticed. So did Kariin’s preschool friend, Aratakun. No “good morning”, no, “Hey”! Simply, “Opai mieru!” He could see my boobs. Oh, boy. Kariin protested with firerce loyalty: “Mom! He cannot say that to you!” I think it wasn’t simply being possessive over ones’ mom. She didn’t feel right about his comment, or him noticing me there, in that way. Not okay for her.

That walk from my girl’s school to my private, all-girls, Christian private school with conservative traditions was not so easy. I didn’t have enough hands. One for trying to cover my overzealous mommy-cleavage, one for my canned drink, and one (?) for my heavy bag.

Do you know Japan? It is modest-town. There is Washington DC conservative, and there is Tokyo dress. We are so dog-gone modest about tops, so serious about modesty. There are some dichotomies and little issues when daily, I see a woman who can barely cover her vagina with a dress, but who has the most LDS-looking tops, decollate fully under wraps. Everywhere I go, I make immodest moves in the shirt-department. (Nevermind the reality that I am a no-shame in my game breastfeeder).

There n’er was cleavage til I moved here, it seems. Sigh. Such is life and pretty things that you buy in the US but here, feel hussie-like.

Oh, this dress. You’d never know this tea garden dress could make it easy to feel more like a tea garden floozie, letting preschool-aged boys and grown weirdo men get a free eyeful. And yet, in our shower, in our family, everything is pure.




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