Childrearing

My Toddler’s Scar Won’t Affect Her Dating Prospects, But Thanks For Asking

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littlegirlWhen I was young, part of the excitement of getting to know a boyfriend was discovering all his… distinguishing features. I’d run my finger along his brow and hear about the hockey puck to the forehead. Or notice a gap where the facial hair didn’t grow, the product of a chin launched into a coffee table. Whatever didn’t kill a young boy, it seemed, made him sexier to some hormonal young woman later in life.

Can the same be said when the genders are reversed? I can’t say I had any scars with which to experiment (I was a klutz, but this I remedied by simply not doing much of anything). Still, something tells me there’s a double standard in the department of hard, and visible, knocks.

I might have mentioned before in this space that my younger daughter has inherited my inability to meet a glass door I didn’t walk into nose first. Just shy of 2 years old, she ended up in the ER with a slice through the end of her nose deep enough to require stitches and wide enough to require 10 of them, from nostril to nostril. She took it like a champ – far better than her parents – even though she looked like someone who’d been knocked out by one.

Once we’d been discharged from the hospital, the shock had worn off and we’d come to grips with the long year of nose-maintenance ahead, my husband came clean with a concern he’d been until then suppressing: what happens when she starts dating?

Huh?

My History of Feminist Literature tutorial notes flashed before my eyes. Would a concerned father of a 2-year-old boy with a scale of piano keys on his nose worry that he’d just tucked a future John Merrick into bed?

Let me just say that my daughter – and we, as a result – is lucky. She’s beautiful and sassy and everything a boy or girl would want, whether as a partner in the sandbox or in life. Over 18 months her wound has gone from something that would earn a Hollywood makeup artist an Oscar nomination to a hairline streak only a cosmetic surgeon would notice.

But my husband was not the only man – and it was always, I hate to say, a man – who has sounded the alarm. Close relatives, a neighbor, even her own doctor have cautioned us that her scar might cause problems when she becomes, you know, a woman.

Their words are ancient history to me now. And unless the sun is beating down (of which, in the UK this summer, there is no risk) and I’m armed with sunscreen in my mommy holster, so is the scar. But I was reminded of their gallant concern when a friend of my daughter’s recently endured a tragic run-in with some boiling tea, which left a horrible burn on an area of her body women tend only to reveal in privileged company.

And guess what? It came up again, in barely audible school-gate gossip. Rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb, intimate, rhubarb, rhubarb, bikini, rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb, relationship.

As if girls these days didn’t have enough of their parents’ baggage to unpack.

I’ll put this one in the “Worry about your own dating prospects” file – my husband included. Not that I don’t see where he’s coming from. I’m just not ready to burn my collection of Virginia Woolf paperbacks quite yet.

Anyway, considering her penchant for getting appendages stuck where they don’t belong, we’ll have bigger stitches to stew over before she turns sweet 16.

(Photo: Olga Sapegina/Shutterstock)