Hair and Puberty

Life, Motherhood  /   /  By Rica Espiritu  /  38 views

For those who do not know me, I am a single mother with a teen-age son. Since I can’t use that “Oh talk to your father [your uncle, your grandfather, your father’s-cousin’s-neighbor-in-law] kind of excuse, I have to deal with questions boys have when they reach “that” age. In this case – whatever age that signifies the “start” of puberty.

For some, puberty somehow starts early. The moment they “eyeball” a girl across the classroom or get a hard-on in the morning (I have no idea when it starts because I never had one). For some, it starts….at a later age.

So, I was having my Saturday coffee, peacefully by the kitchen window when my son rushed in.

“MAMA!! This is horrible!!!” My 15-year-old son screamed. The concern on his face was apparent.

“Why? What did you do now?” I looked at him for scratches, bruises or blood. Seeing none of those, I looked around for the cat.

“Mama, this is serious! I HAVE CHEST HAIR!!” My son screamed even if we were just a foot away from each other.

“The men in our family don’t have chest hair. You have chest hair?” I asked.

“Mama you have chest hair, right? Tita (Auntie) Frances told me you’re hairy and you have chest hair.” My son asked, trying to peer at my collar.

I covered myself with my hand, pretending to be insulted and with one eyebrow up, “I don’t have chest hair. I may be hairy compared to most women you know, but I don’t have chest hair.”

“But I do!!!” He exclaimed and with that he lifted his shirt for me to see.

I stared at his chest. It was bare. Nothing. “DUDE! You don’t have chest hair.”

“I DO! It’s starting from my navel, see? It looks like it is creeping up from the pubic area up to my chest!” My son said, aghast.

There I saw a fine fuzz. The kind of fuzz that you won’t even notice unless you are – well…a foot away from my son. “Honey, that is fuzz. Not hair.” I squinted up at this towering teenager, trying to look serious.

“Mama, that is not fuzz if YOU can see it. Should I shave it?!” He asked.

“No,” I said curtly.

“Should I wax it?”

“You will not touch my hair wax.”

“But it will creep up until it reaches my chest.” He was peering down at it.

I pulled his shirt down, “You will do no such thing. Shaving it will make it spiky.”

“Should I put hair conditioner?”

“So that it will be [doing an imitation accent of Adam Sandler’s Zohan] Silky Smooth?”

“Yes!” He said.

“No. It doesn’t work that way.” I laughed.

“Hair mask?”

“Leave my hair mask alone.”

“Hair bleach?”

“No. Stay away from my hair products.” I said.

“But mama, it looks gross. I look so grown up now. I look like…like..those topless men that walk in the streets. That are hairy and sweaty…”

“…and they do not put conditioner on their hair. Filipinos do not have chest hair. You will not have chest hair. Do not do anything to THAT line of hair. It will get thicker as your hormones start raging…perhaps until you reach 20.” I said, calming him down.

“So that means I can shave it the same way I can shave the hair off my balls.” He said turning to the fridge, looking for something to eat.

I dreaded to continue the conversation, but felt like I had to. “You shave your balls?”

“Yes mama, I use your Schick – the one for your legs that has soap already.”

“GROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSSSS!!! And you wouldn’t have told me until we had this conversation?!” It was my turn to feign rabidness….

After pouring himself a glass of juice, “You never asked.”



And that’s all she wrote,


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