As a server in a busy restaurant, I interact with all kinds of kids and their parents. And in doing so I experience a wide gamut of familial exchanges. I am privvy to everything from unbelievable exercices in parental patience to harsh reprimands for perceived slights, but it wasn't until Wednesday that I witnessed something that made me want to call Child Protective Services.
A family of four sat at my table--a father, a mother, big sister and little sister. I approached to greet them and was shocked at what I found.
The youngest daughter, 11 years old at most (and I'm being generous here), was wearing a pale pink lacy tank top with spaghetti straps. Underneath was a hot pink push-up bra with candy hearts printed on it. I know the details of her bra because the tank top was worn low, just below the upper edge of the bra cups, to intentionally showcase the lingerie beneath. [Like this.]
I was horrified. I suggested beer for Dad and steered Mom toward a particular pasta, of course, but mostly I stared at that poor little girl.
"Could she be 13, maybe?," I asked myself. But there was no mistaking--this was an 11 or 10 year old child wearing a hot pink bra meant to be seen peeking out from her pale pink lacy tank top.
When she broke open the 4-pack of Crayolas that we hand out with kids menus and began drawing big, fluffy clouds over a house with a big green tree in front, I spun around looking for someone else to confirm that, "Yes! This is wildly disconcerting!"
I wanted to grab her up and take her with me out of there, far, far away. Buy her a proper scoop neck t-shirt and a teddy bear. Assure her that she's beautiful and valuable, even without showing the world her underwear. Perhaps even suggest she wait to wear a bra until she has breasts.
Instead I just silently hoped she'd be okay.