This morning, hubs beat me out of bed. He showered, dressed, and brushed my lips with a kiss. He said his usual “see you later,” as he rarely says goodbye. It’s too final.

Two are away with relatives for the weekend. It’s commonplace these days. The other two olders lay on the floor of Chi’s room, camping out. Most nights they breathe towards one another, each breath in sync. They sleep better together. Bad dreams keep distance.

I woke Chi-bee up early, hoping to get her ready for a shoot before the sun was too harsh to work under. These days, by nine the sun sits too high and the shadows have diminished.

Despite every effort, we still didn’t make it to the park until 8:30, and today was certainly not overcast. And yet, we had one of the best “model” shoots we’ve ever experienced. Mind you, Chi covets any fantasy shoot that allows her to assume a role. She is my actress, after all. Over-the-top make up, her flowing gown, and a tropical crown gave her the regal persona. She delivered.

Chi for Hypnotic web

I’m finding it hard to believe my baby girl is 11 and a half. She’s matured seemingly overnight. Suddenly, her little girl looks are the refined features of a young woman. Her curves have filled out. (And we’re having to consider how clothes will lay and buying undergarments she’s fast outgrown.)

Now, what she wears is important. How she does her hair is critical. And without ingrained confidence, it’s easy to suffer under “haters’ attacks.” There are many of them, even without the inclusion of boys in core classes who encourage competition and entice these disses with additional scrutiny.

Just last week, in the midst of a hair catastrophe, Chi chose to wear one of her “model wigs” to school. Against my better judgment, I let her. It fits her, after all, so what was the harm? Turns out there was quite a bit.

She reported that the day was “The worst day ever.”

Thinking she was speaking in hyperbole (her horoscope had said the previous day would be her best), I replied, “Why? Because it’s not Tuesday?”

She paused, breathed deep, and proceeded to explain her humiliations. During lunch, her wig was yanked off not once, but three times. Twice by someone she thought of as a friend (who thought this was somehow funny to do) and once by a bully of elementary school horror returned. She was devastated. There were people watching. And I can only imagine how naked she felt under the taunts and teases of these nasty girls.

I’m thankful that Chi-bee has resilience – that she knows a moment’s discomfort isn’t a defining moment of her self-worth. She bounded back. She knows she’s beautiful (and Oma still wants her brown).

And yet she cried when I covered my face in make up and played model in the mirror. She still sometimes says she wishes she looked like me and not her father. Some days she even shows twinges of jealousy over her baby sister’s attention seeking antics that result in strangers commenting, “Oh, she’s sooooo cute,” as they pass.

Maybe I should tell her how I feel when I look in a mirror? How I still feel inadequate in my looks. I struggle with my pudge. I abhor my many scars. And I’ve never ever felt like the pretty one in the room.

I pray for my Chi, my stunning beauty who holds so much treasure in her every atom. I worry that she’ll forget how very amazing she is in these moments of scrutiny. This, my friends, is a wicked time in a young girl’s life. I hope she rises above.

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