My eleven year old has become obsessed with the question of lady whiskers.
MY lady whiskers.
I catch her standing in the kitchen doorway staring at me as I cook dinner. She looks decidedly queasy.
"You ok?" I say. "Something wrong?"
She is staring directly at my face. Clearly, my face is the thing that is wrong.
"It's a stubble isn't it?" I say, finally.
Her concern over my chin hair has become routine. Terrified I might be morphing into Gandalf, she has taken to scanning my face for deviant follicles. I give my chin a quick sweep to reassure her.
"Nothing there", I say breezily. "I plucked them this morning!"
I see her gag and little and figure that "plucked" is one of those words, (like "moist" or "Michael Gove") that revolts people.
"It's underneath. In the middle!" she says, with rising hysteria. "It's sticking out loads. It's totally black".
"I can't deal with it now!" I say, a little shoutily. "I"m cooking dinner."
Afterwards I feel bad for raising my voice at her. I have already embarrassed her enough by posting pictures of my armpits on Facebook during an outburst of feminist defiance.
"It's still there mammy", she says, as I'm settling her down to bed later that evening.
"I'll sort it in the morning", I say. "I promise."
"But I want to do it now", she says. "Please."
I hand her my emergency tweezers. As she bends over me, I can smell the rhubarb and custard bath bomb her best friend bought for her; the more grown-up smell of chewing gum. I can see the concentration in her eyes, less blue than they once were; a serious, sea-green colour now. I am aware that she is projecting all her anxieties about growing up onto my chin hair.
"It's gone all curly" she says, after her first few attempts. "It's worse than before! LITERALLY!"
"Adele had a beard", I say. "When she was pregnant. Loads of women have facial hair. It's totally natural."
I want her to know facial hair doesn't matter half as much as she thinks it does - that you can be totes awesome WITH facial hair. (Although, possibly not a humongous chevron moustache like our ex-neighbour Barbara). I want her to know that the people who love you will love you anyway.
"There" she says, completely ignoring me. "I got it out for you."
She offers me the tiniest brown hair.
"What shall we call it then?" I say.
"You're super gross!" she shrieks, but then, a few seconds later, as I'm scratching her back, she turns to me, giggling.
"Larry" she says. "That's what Adele called her beard."
"Larry it is then" I say.
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