To Be Real in an Unreal World

Last night after dinner #4 was inspired to dance to the music on the radio, PRI’s AfroPop. He has always said that he hates to dance, but now it is revealed that actually he loves to dance, and loves a maternal audience, but he just hates to dance publicly. He put my bathrobe sash around his head for a head band and danced, including leaps onto and off of the couch. It was an inspiring performance.

Boyfriend’s daughter, M, was here last night, her mom and step-dad being out of town for several days, and she would not dance. #4 had offered the adults, (boyfriend and me) “You guys sit on the chair and we’ll dance for you.” But M would not dance. Always in the past she would, but not now. She retreated instead into #4’s newest “Beet” manga, too self-conscious and apparently disinterested to dance. #4 wanted to turn off all the lights except the ones on the Christmas tree (yes, it is still up) and dance in his own brand of disco lighting. But because M was reading he could not turn off the lights. He was furious and heart broken. First of all, after five years of being able to count on M for the best play imaginable, she is now unavailable. She won’t play, she won’t dance, she won’t participate, all she wants to do is read HIS “Beet” mangas non-stop. He still anticipates her visits to our house, trained by years of experience to expect non-stop active and imaginative fun. But now, she’s not available.

She sees herself as more of a teen sort of creature. She has become self-conscious. She advertises the fact that she wears a bra to cover her breast buds. She lets us know that she is getting curves. She is relinquishing her personhood to become instead a sex object. Not that her personhood is really going away of course, but I remember that loss, the transition from person to sex object. It caused me no end of problems and still does. But at the time a girl thinks it is glamorous. Finally she gets to BE that princess she always wanted to be as a child, the one from the stories, the one who was desired by the prince. And all it really takes to be that princess is beauty and curves. You don’t really have to be a person. You can hide behind the beauty and curves and the world will love and desire you whether you are a person or not. The world will think it recognizes you. It will think you are that princess from its own stories, and it will desire you, even though it doesn’t know you. Who you are doesn’t matter. It’s just how you appear that opens the doors. And yet M doesn’t know this. The world tells her that it is sexy that matters, so she goes for the sexy. And relinquishes herself.

Meanwhile #4 feels betrayed. His best friend has abandoned him. Now he must dance alone. Usually he doesn’t mind, when she isn’t here anyway, but now he must let go of her, his best friend, even when she is around. A lot of it is just natural development after all. There yawns a new gulf between an eleven year old girl and a ten year old boy. Still, I feel that she is beginning to be tainted by the insidious messages of our society. He is still a little boy living in a real environment of nourishing influences. Not for long, but for now. He is still innocent, and I pray he can remain real in an unreal world.

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