July 21, 2009

“Go in peace my daughter. And remember that, in a world of ordinary mortals, you are a Wonder Woman.” Queen Hippolyte

When I was 10, I begged my mother to buy me a Wonder Woman bathing suit. It was a one piece suit that actually looked like the little crazy and impractical outfit Linda Carter wore on the show, but it had straps and more modestly covered a young girl’s parts. I needed to have this bathing suit. I promised to wear it for 5 years if she would just buy it for me.

My mother, being the kind and gentle woman she was, tried to talk me out of it. She said it didn’t look well made, that she thought the colors might run and finally, when I didn’t get the hint, she said, “Aren’t you a little old for this?”

Old? Are you insane woman, I am 10. I thought my mother must be having a stroke.

She caved and I got the suit.

No doubt, she gave in out of pure exhaustion. I am the youngest of 4 children and now that I am a mother of 1 child, I wish I could reach back in time when she was alive and thank her from the very bottom of my heart for not beating us or just leaving us all. I would have done both, in that order, and then come back to beat us some more.

I marched home with my bathing suit. I was the proud owner of a Super Suit. And I knew when I wore it the next day to swim at my friend Shelly’s house, she would be green with envy. How could she not?

The next day, as planned, I went across the street to Shelley’s house to swim in her ultra modern and hip above ground swimming pool and she had also invited another friend, one from her school. Shelly was a year older than me and went to the, gasp, public school. Her mother was divorced.

These things were whispered at my house because my parents, by God, were going to stay married even if it killed them and us in the process and, even if we had to forego medical attention, we were going to the Catholic School. Because we were holy, and apparently holy people can’t associate with people whose parents can’t afford to send them to the Catholic school.

I don’t think her situation had anything to do with it, but Shelly could be kind of mean to me. She never let me forget she was a year older than me and that she, not I, had a miniature Yorkshire terrier named Sugar AND a pool. All I had was a present father and Catholic School uniforms. Oh, and a WONDER WOMAN BATHING SUIT!

As I trucked around the side of her house wearing my new suit and carrying my towel, I was flush with excitement. Finally, I could show her how cool I was even if my parents were still married and only had great swaths of St Augustine grass in the backyard instead of a pool.

Her friend was the first to say something, “Are you wearing a Wonder Woman suit? How old are you?”

I didn’t understand it at all, why was everyone asking me this idiotic question, “10,” I answered less confidently than I had my mother.

This friend turned to Shelly and said, “Why is she wearing that stupid bathing suit? Are you friends with her?”

Shelly was torn, I could see. Were we friends? I don’t know, but pickings were slim on our block and if she denied me, who would she play with? On the other hand, this girl was obviously way cooler than me and she was probably 11.

“She lives across the street,” she said quickly, “come on, let’s swim.”

I swam for a little while, but eventually, I felt like if I did not get this suit off of my body, it would become permanent and I would have to wear it like a Scarlet A for the rest of my life. The shame and embarrassment were burning into my skin through the cheap spandex.

I went home, took the suit off, and never wore it again. I continued to play with Shelly, and even talked my parents into switching me to the public school, where she ignored me and pretended not to know me.

This whole thing came back to me a few weeks ago. Max and I went to a store called “Little Miss Muffin.” It’s kind of a posh gift store that has house wares, candles, toys and a whole bunch of nice and expensive stuff crammed into the “boutique” (I am convinced this is code for small, crowded and over priced.)

He found this pink Melissa and Doug castle that he had to have. He wanted it desperately. It was NOT CHEAP (I am too embarrassed to say how much it was) so I told him when he was potty trained I would come back and get it for him. I figured he would be so traumatized by the inadequate potty training and marginal parenting he gets from me that he would just forget about it.

‘Lo and behold, a few weeks later, as soon as that boy peed in the potty the very first time, he asked to go get the pink princess castle. It is really hard to explain to a three year old the concepts of consistency and regularity. He continued that day to pee on the potty and each time, he asked to go get the castle.

I gave in at 2pm.

Mike, Max and I went to Little Miss Muffin to get the castle. Max went straight to the back of the store in search of the pink castle. Meanwhile, I noticed they had the exact same castle in blue. It was called the medieval knight castle – very manly, eh?

I really want Max to be an individual. I love that his favorite movie is Snow White and that he acts it out while he watches it, much like his own private Rocky Horror Picture Show. Nothing makes me prouder than to see him pretending to bake a cake or wheel around his teddy bear in a stroller.


The pain I felt that day and for an ungodly amount of time before and after the Wonder Woman Incident came rushing back to me. Would I do him a disservice by NOT forcing him to get the blue castle? Or would I just be crushing his tiny spirit?

We deiced to show him the blue castle and let him decide and, not surprisingly, he chose the pink castle. He carried it to the car and has played with it just about every day since we brought it home.

And I am glad he got to be himself…and that he pees on the potty most of the time.

I suppose the only difference between my mother and me is that I am actually not as nice as her and if anyone says one word to my son that even resembles an insult, I will verbally eviscerate him regardless of his age.

So, take that Shellys of the world…Max’s Mama really can beat up your mama and you, too, so watch your back.


Laura Ferry-Jimenez said...


so when can the girls and I come play with that cool castle? :)

Robbie said...

Laura, wouldn't your girls rather play with trains? :)

Great stuff, Claire.

Fish Out of Water said...

Any time Laura! I am thinking of getting him the furniture for it for his birthday!

Emily said...

Loved it, Claire! Mark enjoyed playing with the castle, too. I'm thinking Max and Mark would have loved the wonder woman bathing suit. It's a shame you didn't save it . . . Just imagine their future blogs.

bybethstudio said...

Wow! I never knew about the bathing suit!

The castle sounds great! Who's ever heard of a blue castle anyway? That must be for insecure boys!
Clearly Max is confident and has good taste! and he's VERY smart!!! (And he's peeing in the toilet with a new toy to boot!!) HURRAY!!!!

BucktownSweetie's Eats said...

I love that you are allowing Max to explore his individuality. I wish the same for all mothers out there! Love your writing!