Nothing could have prepared the Carpenter for this moment.

It was inevitable. He knew this day would come, but somehow that didn’t make it any easier. Time moves fast and things change even faster. Nobody said it was going to be easy.

To soften the blow, I entered the house carrying a six-pack of imported beer (the fancy kind). I never do this, mostly because beer is a luxury item in our house (which is why we don’t have any friends). The Carpenter eyed my generous gift with suspicion.  The little brown bag in my hand suggested that I too might require a touch of grown-up juice which, if you know me, is rare indeed. Somehow, that alarmed him even more. It should have.

My daughter and I had just returned home from bathing suit shopping (for her, as I refuse to wear them), and daddy’s little girl had just purchased her first bikini from the women’s department. No more shopping in the kids section. I don’t think he’d fully processed that when I told him we were shopping for a swimsuit. Perhaps it was a mental block.

The Carpenter was totally immersed in some televised sport and, distracted by the game, he seemed to loosen his suspicion. I guess he figured maybe the beer was a gift for cutting the lawn (as if).

Poor, poor Carpenter.

Now any parent of a teenage girl will tell you that the minute they return home from the mall with a new outfit, a fashion show will ensue.

And so it began. Down the stairs walked a very beautiful young woman in a stunning bikini bathing suit that, although conservative, fashionable and on-trend, was nonetheless somehow less material than the Carpenter was prepared for – emotionally or otherwise.

And then came the words that would summon the need to crack open a cold one: “One piece!” he bellowed, covering his eyes and burying his head in the couch. “What happened to the one-piece bathing suit?”

I know it was cruel to laugh at this moment, but I was still holding my brown bag with the Bombay blue bottle inside and his outward reaction was my inward one. The girl child, er, girl junior rolled her eyes and with an exaggerated sigh, turned on her heel and walked out of the room, smiling just enough to let me know she too enjoyed her father’s reaction. She also knew he couldn’t make her take the bathing suit back to the store.

The Carpenter didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, but clearly, he wasn’t in one piece himself.

So here we are, on the precipice of a new parenting challenge, as child morphs into goddess. Now, maybe you think this is crass and teenage girls shouldn’t be in bikinis, but when we arrived at the party, three other girls were wearing the exact same suit and they were all completely comfortable in their own skin. Herein lies the lesson we need to teach girls: to own and respect their bodies and love themselves just as they are. You can’t say it if you don’t mean it.

You try and tell that to the Carpenter as he sharpens his tools in the garage, sipping on imported beer. I suspect every potential boyfriend our girl brings home had better like the sound of drills and saws.


Kelly Waterhouse