“Mommy, what are those?” Vivian, who is six, asked, her face just millimeters from mine. She was fixated on my nose.
“What are what, honey?”
“Those. Those round things.” That Japanese book, The Holes in Your Nose, about nostrils and boogers and which body orifices you might stick your fingers in and which you definitely should not, had long been a favorite in our house. In short, we’d been over this. I reminded her that they were my nostrils, and that she had them too.
“No, not those. Those smaller ones. Some of them have little hairs growing from them.” Vivian, of course, was referring to my pores, which ever since I became a Formerly have been expanding like crop circles on my face. I’d hoped no one had noticed the little hairs. I, myself, can only see them in the 15X magnification mirror I masochistically have in the bathroom.
I felt that familiar wave of…not shame, not humiliation, exactly–you can’t be ashamed of your pores–but of what I’d imagine a frog would feel if he were alive while being dissected: Laid bare, with the cool, objective, curious eyes of a scientist seeking information.
So I did what I did the time Sasha pointed out that IÂ looked like I had a butt on the front of my body and the time we had that lovely floppy arm conversation: I chuckled wisely and said something mature about how bodies are fascinating and change as they get older and went and got the 15X magnification mirror and showed Vivian her own (still invisible to the naked eye) pores. I then explained the function of pores in cooling the body. Vivian was riveted. I was proud of myself for being such a good mommy, for recognizing and acting on one of those “teachable moments” I usually scream and yell through. And then she asked this.
“But why would there be hairs in your pores?”
Yeah, you know, I’d like to know the same *(^&(*$@*&^ thing!!! Maybe it’s because there is no God, Vivian. Maybe it’s because your mommy did something really, really naughty in a former life. Maybe because the body is just randomly gross for no reason and we’re all basically still monkeys and some things are simply better examined from a distance?Â “I just don’t know, sweetheart,” I answered.
And then I went inÂ my bedroom to put on some makeup.