Armpit hair, zits, boobs, Chick-fil-A. . . yeah, you know where this is going. . . Adolescence, puberty and my weekend at the mall.

My two pre-teen daughters and I were on vacation for Spring Break and we missed our ritual shopping trip before Easter for nice Sunday dresses. The shopping bonanza usually covers the girls through any and all dressy occasions for the entire summer. By the next growth spurt, we already looking at Fall fashions.

Making up for lost time, we hit the after-holiday sales to find a nice, classy dress for each daughter that wasn't too babyish, wasn't too adult-ish, wasn't too casual or dressy or cold or warm. We walked for five hours.


“No, mom.”




“No. Can I wear jeans all summer?”


This was proving harder than I thought. The girls were growing out of the children's department and the adult clothes didn't look right. Teenage stores were mostly t-shirts and jeans. Though I know that many children are allowed to wear jeans to church these days, my children are cursed with parents that want their children to dress nice out of respect for their environment, so on we walked. Finally, J.C. Penny's came to the rescue with simple sundresses.

But, what do sundresses require on growing little women? Strapless bras. My eldest got her first strapless bra which was exciting. She has been developing into a little woman lately and we have had all the conversations: the menstrual cycle (no, I don't hold back – much to their chagrin), acne, sweat, deodorant and anything else I could think might apply. And yet, I wasn't ready when my little girl-turned-woman swirled her new Spring frock, lifting her arms into the air.

“Oh my, I am going to have to teach you to shave your armpits – at least while we live here in America.” Granted, we are 100% American where women shave their armpits and just about anything else that moves but I wasn't ready for inch-long armpit hair on my "little" pre-teen, who also just started wearing my size shoes, by the way.

Arriving back at home, after stopping by Target to purchase a new pack of razors, I decided I might need help. Googling “armpit hair,” I arrived at several explanations for teaching an adolescent to shave her armpits. I found out that, as nothing is new under the sun, simple is best. Here are the steps we took:

  1. Wet and soap the hair under the arms.
  2. Pick up a relatively new razor, checking for any signs of rust or damage to the blade if already opened.
  3. Shave in short, brisk strokes in all directions. Armpit hair grows in every direction so shave up, down and across to get the cleanest, closest shave.
  4. Rinse blade to keep it from clogging.
  5. Rinse armpit to remove unwanted hair clippings.
  6. After drying thoroughly, apply a light coating of powder or moisturizer to prevent body odor without clogging the pores. Apply thin coat of deodorant.

Pre-teens don't need to know yet about waxing, hair removal creams and electrolysis, among other popular methods. Several sites I checked included proper care for those wishing to leave their armpits unshorn, such as using conditioner and trimming for neat appearance. I was looking for braiding techniques but none showed up in my search so I decided to stick with the shaving method of armpit etiquette.

Listening with rapt attention on the other side of the bathroom door, my youngest daughter, a ten-going-on-sixteen-year-old, inquired if she was old enough to shave her legs, since she had yet to develop armpit hair like her sister. We decided to wait when I noticed a long scratch from falling off her bicycle. I didn't want her shaving off the scabs. Ouch.

Think all you want that you are ready for your children to hit puberty. Every day will bring a new surprise. Enjoy the ride.


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