A Little Eyeliner Can Cross the Line

It was so easy, a smooth soft rimming of kohl along her upper eyelid, then a winging out. It was so fun to cross that line, to sail past that light blinking yellow. Unchecked. So easy to continue with momentum.

It was the easiest to go from natural makeup for our daughter’s special Japanese ceremony pictures to full-blown dramatic. Five minutes into my first dream-session with my daughter and some sharpened liner, I sailed through that light, scribbled over that line. You know, the boundary of Respect Thine Three Year Old Daughter’s Young, Unmade Face. Teach her to splash in puddles, be strong on the hanging bars, build up her inner confidence. Thou Shalt Not Be a Mom Competing With Your Toddler for a Crown. Don’t even look like it, either of you. Be careful of sequins across the seat of jeans, even. These are troubling times.

The thing is, it was so fun. I have a daughter who is both Japanese and American Caucasian/Jewish. Her eyes are so different than mine, though I see traces of a little me in there, too. They are gorgeous. Artistically, I’d been wanting to trace that line, study the form since she appeared and was mine. Plus, my curiosity had been building since I’d even started dating my husband. If we have kids, they will beautiful, no doubt, and I wonder how Japanese their features will look? It is an exciting thing, genetics–wondering how God will use the best of each of you to create this totally new being. It’s a little crazy, even.

So artistic, she painted the frame

So artistic, she painted the frame

All this to say, I’d held-out this long, wanting to trace her eyes, get to know her sweet eyelids in the way only makeup can. It was as dizzying a prospect as an artist’s first stroke, first curved lines of a subject he truly loves. That watercolor on paper can help you see that still-life a little clearer, better, a study of line and shape. Structure.

With a little wardrobe help, she could have been an Olympic figure skater or a snow queen from the Mariinsky’s Nutcracker. It was a bit shocking, but still, I was proud–proud as her mother, proud as a newly-realized makeup artist, unleashed. I could be employed to paint on stage makeup. Of course, we chatted as I held the bronzer’s little mirror up to her. Words like, “This would not be every day and can you imagine how dreadful that would be to put on this gunk everyday?” No, this was a one and only special occasion and we were just having fun. She is way more beautiful natural, without it. But still, it was all exciting. (Looking back, I can remember her swinging her little legs on the stool, saying she didn’t look like herself. Eeek).


We elegantly scrambled upstairs to show her daddy. I felt valiant, my heart beating to the beat of “The Nutcracker’s Waltz of the Snowflakes“. He looked at her. He looked at me. No real smile. “I wish we would have talked about this first.” I felt crushed, deflated.

“Oh, we were just playing around,” though I wanted to add, “Other moms are putting on makeup for this day, too, this shichi-go-san. Some even will apply red lipstick.” I felt a bit superior, since I had only dotted her bottom lip with the palest bronzy-pink.

He was right, though. “We are taking her out, she will be on display.” This was just the situation we wanted to avoid—everyone calling out, “Cute! Beautiful! Kawaiiiii!” We don’t want her to feel her worth in her level of cuteness or how much attention it garners. Sigh. Although, I could argue, it doesn’t take much to hear every neighbor marvel after my girl, dropping the, “Kawaii! So cute!” Just a little pink jacket and another matching accessory, Or an urban walk with our little doxies. Everything, it seems, can win you a, “Kawaiiii!” Be that as it may, in our home, we make our own choices. Cutesy culture or not, we are her parents. We choose to stay in our lines or not, honoring her and protecting childhood, even from me and my new lease on art.


Time to take it off, or at least the dramatic part. Before leaving, I brought up my mini makeup remover and some tissue. I rolled that purple plastic bottle in my hands, then shook it, the oil mixing into to the more watery solution. It was like that little wave simulator in science class. And like that, my three year old had her fist lesson in removing makeup, taking off that which gets in the way of her natural beauty, in her being a mere, exquisite girl of three. In the end, none of the gunk remained, but a mere shadowing her eyes, what I couldn’t take off standing outside of her Jijji & Baba’s house. A little raccoon, but our girl.

I’ll just be looking forward to doing her up for prom, if not a ballet recital.

car girl

How about you? When did you first want to put on makeup as a child or teen? When were you allowed to leave the house with it on? Any great stories?

How ’bout with kids? Did you change your policy ever because you got caught up in a costume or pics or something? 

A Brief Interlude

A passing out of programs

the rapping of the baton,

orchestra’s warming up;

lights will be dimming soon.

Curtain opens up

velvet, soft, grand.


My girl will be taking part in shichi-go-san, 七五三.

But you know, she is quite different in this town.

A stroll through the gardens,

not the same clap at the temple.


Her prayer comes down first from another mountain

and bathes in streams of another East

even as it mixes, develops

on the slopes of Tama River.


The intones of an Aaronic benediction,

the chorus of Totoro, and a complete feast

with red beans and white tabi socks with the neat toe split.


Do you hear that song?

Sono uta wa nani desu ka?

The rise and fall of the amida,

the Jewish call to worship,

the Sh’ma.


And over her lifetime,

or through the span of one year,

Sakura, traditional melodies danced with fans,

skipped in summer sandals,

praised in yukata,

digging up dirt with kabuto-mushi.

Frogs and a single reed, the whoooosh of wind through leaves,

lai lai lais ending as the sun slips down.


Hers is the crescendo of crickets, violins, a trumpet.

The buzz of cicada, and the whirr of a jet plane

over the Pacific,

the pianissimo

in the covering of eyes.

What are two songs or some sounds that meld together in your life, from your languages & cultures? What songs are your kiddos/future kiddos inheriting?