Dear Malin Reese,
A couple of Monday’s ago we were having an uneventful night until you decided to show your vagina to the public. We’ll get back to that in a moment but first let’s talk about mirrors.
You’ve always loved mirrors. Since you were a baby, you’ve been drawn to them. I don’t have anything poetic or profound to say about this. It’d be nice to say that the mirror reflects the best version of yourself, that somehow you see your hopes and dreams when you look into them but the truth is I think you just like the way you look. And that’s okay by the way. You’re a beautiful girl.
Back to that whole public indecency thing. We were at Gap, being painfully middle class, when you found a standing mirror. “Focus” by Ariana Grande was playing and you decided to start a dance party for one. I sat back and watched you be you for a couple of minutes. In three and a half years you’ve provided me with a lifetime of these quiet little moments. I won’t say they make my heart burst but, holy shit, do they keep my heart feeling full. Once you were done dancing, you excitedly ran up to me and our friend Bernadette, pulled down your shorts and underwear and yelled “Vagina Time!”. You startled a couple of innocent patrons who went searching for some plaid and instead found prepubescent lady parts.
It’s important we get a few things straight. First, I’d really love it if you tried your best to refrain from gleefully saying “Vagina Time!” in front of me ever again. I’m far from a conventional parent and light years from being a prude but FFS (this will be a fun acronym for you to look up one day) I’m still your Dad! Second, I thought what you did was hilarious. Inappropriate and a bit embarrassing but hilarious nonetheless. The best part? Your actions came from such a good and happy place. Of course, I still lightly scolded you because I couldn’t have the people of Gap thinking I was raising a pervert. Lastly, your little public display got me thinking about how aware of & comfortable you are with your body. For the record, I’m okay with that. Me and your Mom have made a concerted effort to speak in a mature manner about your body even though you’re only three. One thing we preach is that you have ownership of your WHOLE body, that it is yours and yours alone.
This sense of responsibility will serve you well as you grow up and ownership of your body turns into more opaque subjects like sexuality or intimacy. Ownership will always be a good place to start with those things too. That ownership will lead you to a liberating place. You’ll be able to share that sense of security (security of body, of sexuality, of intimacy, of mind etc.) with someone else knowing full well you’ll never have to cede ownership along the way.
Malin, do me one last thing and repeat after me:
“It will never, EVER, be “Vagina Time” when my Dad is around”.
Dad of a beautiful little girl. Husband to an amazing woman. Son and sibling of a perfectly weird and wonderful family.