My 9 ½ year-old daughter shaved her legs the other day, for the first time. Actually, we did it together, sitting on the edge of my bathtub.

She had first asked me if she could shave her legs a few months ago. We’ve talked about it off and on since then and I was trying to gauge the real reason for her wanting to do so. She has blond hair on her legs but she has a fair amount of it and she said that she didn’t like the way it looked. We talked about whether or not other girls at school were doing it. She wasn’t really sure if they were, so it didn’t seem like a peer pressure type of thing. And she is not one of those elementary school-age girls that have been prematurely tossed in to their teens by wearing short shorts and midriff baring shirts. Her favorite outfits consist of her brother’s hand-me-down athletic shorts and t-shirts.

But she has always been curious about the human body, hers and in general, wanting to learn about how it works. And after she showed the slightest bit of the onset of puberty (slight meaning a few wispy hairs under her arms), she wanted to find out all about that. So, for Hannukah last year, I gave her a copy of “The Care & Keeping of You: The Body Book for Girls”. She read it cover to cover in one sitting and then wanted to read it again with me. It brought up questions, lots of them. Good ones about periods, body odor and the different shapes and sizes of breasts. And shaving.

So, last week, we discussed the pros and cons of starting to shave. For her, the pros outweighed the cons. When we got back from our Spring Break trip, we went to the drugstore and she picked out a razor and some shaving cream. We sat on the edge of the tub and I gave her some pointers. When she was done, she remarked on how much she liked the way it looked and felt. And how she would need a razor to keep at her dad’s house. And I thought, oh shit, maybe I should have mentioned this to her father beforehand. We are divorced and usually discuss “big” issues and decisions. But I’ve since decided that it is okay for some decisions to be between just me and her. And that her father will have to trust my judgment. I think he does.

And for me, it brought back the memory of the first time I shaved my legs. I did it without telling my mom. I don’t know why. I was shy as a child. But I borrowed her razor, a heavy stainless steel one with a double-edged blade. And cut off a long strip of skin on my shin. I thought I was going to die from blood loss. I shaved because the girls at HebrewSchool were doing it and made fun of me because I didn’t. I shaved all the way up to the top of my thigh. My mom found out one night when she tucked me in to bed and rubbed my leg. She was very surprised but I didn’t get in trouble. And I continued to shave after that with the added benefit of her motherly guidance.

But my own experience made me happy that my daughter included me in her decision. She is a different kid than I was. More open and out-going. And I’m glad that I was able to support her in her desire to shave her legs. I’m hoping all this goes a long way to keeping the communication open between us as she gets older and matures. And I’m hoping for a few more years before she grows up too much and asks me if I’ve ever smoked pot, if I was a virgin when I married her father or what tea bagging is.