Boxer briefs

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Strong but gentle and a very reliable product.

Viagra sale! Generic drugs are copies of brand-name drugs that have exactly the same dosage.

The other day I found myself in Target for the list of random things. You know the list. Knee socks. Ballet leotard. Tampons. Valentine candy. Deodorant. Granola bars. Kid underwear.

Lucille had been in ballet class in a too-small get up that looked like no one cared about her for a few too many weeks so I took my list and headed over on my lunch hour.

Usually it’s the kid crescendo of begging that sends me to the brink of an anxiety attack in Target. The whining for Dora Rocks! stickers or Tic Tacs on the home stretch passing the shampoo, the curling irons or the collectable cards on the way to the cash registers is usually enough to make me have a good old fashioned mama hissy fit and say no way too many times in a row. But on this day I was alone and my angst lay somewhere else. Namely, the little boys department.

I announced that morning that I was going to Target to remedy the ballet outfit situation so Lucille could stop pulling her current pink, sparkly uniform out of her pink, sparkly behind during class and Eliza stopped me at the refrigerator. I closed the door to find her standing right beside me. She put her hands together in front of her heart as she spoke slowly like I might miss something.

“Mama, if you are going to Target today…you are going, right,” she said like I was on cross examination.

“Yeah, baby, I’m going.”

“Okay, well, since you are going, I need underwear. The kind I showed you last time we were there. Remember?”

“I remember,” I said.

“Can you get them?” she said. “Will you please get them?” Her eyes were calm and intent on mine.

“Yes,” I said. “Yes, I’ll get them.”

Standing in the little boys department looking at Iron Man, Spiderman and Star Wars underpants I felt a wave of anxiety wash over me. I had said yes. Yes, I’ll get them.

My little girl doesn’t wear girl underwear. She wears boxer briefs, preferably with skateboarders on them, and I had been putting off buying her new ones for a long time hoping she might change her mind about the kind of underwear she will wear. I worry that she’s getting old enough that other kids might tease her about wearing boy underwear. Oh, how I worry.

I was talking to an old friend recently about something else entirely when at the end of the conversation I blurted out, “Okay, am I totally screwing Eliza up?”

This woman is someone I’ve known for a long time and I trust her. I always have. She’s got that amazing ability of being able to tell me the stuff I don’t want to hear –you’re being lazy; you’re playing with fire; if not now, then when – and I like her more because of it. She’s been telling me the truth since I was her TA in grad school and this conversation was no different.

“You can’t protect her,” she said.

“But I want to wrap her in Charmin,” I said.

“You can’t,” she said.

Then I rambled on about all the things I wanted to insulate Eliza from: mean girls, stupid boys, playground sneers, older kid antics.

You can’t. You can’t. You can’t, she said. Make sure she knows she can come home and talk about whatever happens, she said. Make sure she knows she can be who she is and that that’s okay with you.

Then, the thing that I keep rolling around in my head and what moved me to act in Target last week: She won’t get made fun of for wearing boy underwear, she’ll get made fun of if she’s uncomfortable in her own skin because she’s wearing something that feels wrong to her.

Eliza is completely comfortable with who she is. Maybe I’m not screwing up as bad as I think.

I pulled the boxer briefs off the hook and tried to remember if Eliza wanted blue or green. When I took them out of the bag at home that night Eliza’s face lit up.

“These are the EXACT ones I wanted! The EXACT ones,” she said and scampered off into her room to try them on. She came out a few minutes later modeling them for me.

“Look mama, aren’t they cool, do you see the monsters have skateboards,” she said. “Thank you mama. Thank you!”

She wrapped her arms around me and as I hugged her, I wondered what took me so long.