“I Need a Bra!”
A dad deals with a family debate
"Mom, I need a bra.”
If I had a son, I’d buy him a jockstrap when he needed one and life would move on. However, bra shopping falls under my wife’s job description. The only problem is that Mattie, my wife, and Jessie, my 10-year-old daughter, are on opposite sides of the fence about whether Jessie is old enough to need one — and poor Dad, aging way too fast, is stuck in the middle.
Up to this point, I’ve tried to keep a low profile and hoped this whole topic would blow over. However, a few weeks ago it became clear that it wouldn’t. Jessie went to her room with a needle, thread, scissors and pair of cotton pants she wore as a toddler. Grandmommy, a good teacher, recently showed her granddaughter how to sew, and Jessie, a quick study, cut the pants and sewed them into a makeshift bra.
When Mattie came home from work, Jessie modeled her new bra for her mom. Mattie and I were both impressed with her resourcefulness. Mattie, enjoying the debate, praised Jessie’s tenacity, but told her she still didn’t need a bra.
“Mattie, we can’t let Jessie go to school wearing a pair of pants as a bra,” I countered. No dad wants a phone call from the principal saying his daughter’s sewing came undone, and that she’s upset that the pants she wore as a bra are no longer keeping things in place.
As I drove Jessie to school the following morning, the bra topic came up again. Jessie would also like another dog. Just to find out how badly she really wanted a bra, I posed the question, “Jessie, if you could get a new dog or a new bra, which would you choose?”
Jessie responded, “I’d choose the bra, because I have no chance for another dog.”
I smiled at her clever and accurate response. Then I took my questioning one step further. “Jessie, if I’d be willing to buy either one, which would you like more?”
“Dad, I’d like a Havanese, wearing lots of bras in my size … and neon.”
So how did we resolve this difference? Well, I don’t have a Havanese running around the house in neon-colored bras.
With Mattie and Jessie still debating … and the problem growing — faster in Jessie’s eyes than Mattie’s — there was only one logical thing to do: Ask Grandmommy for advice. It seemed logical to ask Mattie’s mom since her sewing lesson got us into this predicament. Not to mention, Grandmommy is my emergency hotline and it was time, way past time, to call.
Grandmommy talked with Jessie. Then she spoke with Mattie and proposed a win-win solution — a bra-shopping day with her granddaughter. At the end of their special grandmother-granddaughter shopping excursion, Jessie came bursting through the door, anxious to show her mom and me the new treasures Grandmommy purchased for her — four colorful bras, including regular and sports styles.
Grandmommy saved the day! Mattie and I were both happy that Jessie and her grandmother had this special time together, a shopping trip they’ll always remember. And I’m glad the school principal won’t be calling me.
Jessie’s perspective on the right time to buy a bra can be summed up in one word: now. This answer is likely different for each family. For mine, it was, “When Grandmommy says so.”
Life is back to normal … with only a few extra bras in the laundry basket. On occasion, when I fall behind with laundry, Jessie will handwash her bras. She’ll sling them over the shower curtain rod to dry. I’m just thankful she’s not strapping them onto the dog, well, not too many times, so far.
Patrick Hempfing had a 20-year professional career in banking, accounting, and auditing before he became a father at age 44. He is now a full-time husband, stay-at-home dad, and author of “MoMENts: A Dad Holds On,” available on Amazon.