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Life Lessons and Lactation Cookies for New Moms

That’s my girl April 29, 2011

Filed under: active parenting — hardierlime @ 9:59 pm

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When I look at my daughter, I see so many things. I see a funny and smart kid. I see her growing independence coupled with a sharp sensitivity and a healthy dose of perfectionism and determination. Add to that the normal almost three year old stubbornness and attitude. I see her crazy hair, her beautiful blue (sometimes green) eyes behind her glasses and a gap-toothed grin. I see her good heart and the fierce love she shines on all the people that make an impact on her life on a regular basis. It’s hard not to attribute everything about her personality and her looks to ancestry. Sometimes, I need to remember that while she’s made up of people that I know and love, she’s her own person too.

We are lucky enough to be able to have one parent stay home with the kids, and together we try to foster the type of learning that she would get if she had been going to daycare right off. She knows her letters, her numbers, animals and colors. She still uses some of the sign language she learned, even though she can now say the words. We try to go along with her interests as far as she’d like to take them. She has favorite shows, toys and games. We try to introduce more things for variety. She loves her alphabet blocks and her pink elephant, her wooden train set and her play kitchen, Thomas and Dora, Angelina and Word World, Cars and Tangled.

She has trouble interacting with kids she doesn’t already know. For this reason, and for preparation for school (in just over two years!), we’ve been thinking about possibly getting her started in some rec center classes soon, and preschool next year. Preschool and school scare me. Not for the academics, because I doubt they’ll be a problem, but for the culture. Yes, I’m worried about bullying, and yes I’m worried about peer pressure. Yes, in preschool.

I recently read a few chapters of “Cinderella Ate My Daughter” by Peggy Orenstein, and she described how her happy and confident little girl went to school on her first day in overalls with her Thomas lunchbox and within a short amount of time, began demanding a princess lunchbox and refusing to wear pants.

I can say honestly that the princess thing never hit me in kindergarten or beyond. What stands out most in my memory was NKOTB in 4th grade. I never listened to the radio, because I didn’t have one (another story for another time) so I never knew they were the greatest thing ever until all the girls in school started wearing band t-shirts every day and discussing their favorites – group members and songs. Luckily my best friend didn’t live under a rock, and I got to listen to them when we hung out. I started nagging my mother for clothing and music too. And I was devastated when my friend got to go to a concert, but I didn’t.

When I finally got a shirt, it was the best day ever because I could wear it to school and be cool too. Girls rushed up to me asking me which was my favorite. Not being as up on current events as everyone else, I wound up saying the name of one who wasn’t as cool/dreamy/hot as everyone else’s top two or three. Instantly, I was uncool again.

This wasn’t the only thing that happened growing up. Give me a school year and I’ll tell you how uncool I was. Finally, a few more things happened in 7th grade that solidified my understanding that going along with the crowd or wanting to be “popular” was stupid. I stopped trying and started to feel a little more comfortable in my own skin.

Picking up Ms. Orenstein’s book wasn’t a chance occurrence. As soon as we found out we were having a girl, I eschewed all pink and frilly things. I insisted on browns, blues, greens and purples. Her toys have always been a mixed bag, and given the opportunity to pick primary ‘boy’ colors or pink/purple ‘girl’ colors, I went for the primary colors most of the time.

It goes beyond colors, and choice of lunchbox, I know. Someone once asked me “What will you do if she decides that she likes pink and wants to be a princess?” and my answer was “I would support her, but it won’t be my fault.” And here is a disclaimer: I have no opinion about what choices people make for their daughters when it comes to all of this. If pink, frilly and princesses is what someone wants for their daughter, that’s fine too! My preferences for my daughter are not a commentary on yours. I don’t live in your house, and I don’t presume to know how and why you make the choices you do. I’m just explaining my own rationales. Mostly to get them out of my head and to examine them for myself a little more closely.

I follow many different pages on Facebook that advocate a broader perspective for girls including 7wonderlicious, Pigtail Pals and Princess Free Zone, to keep up on ways to make sure my girl always knows what opportunities are out there, and to have good ways to show her that princesses can be mechanics (like Queen Elizabeth was when she was a princess) or whatever else they want to be.

I know I can’t protect her from every hurt or disappointment, but I’d like to give her the the tools to help herself if she finds herself on the “wrong” side of the crowd. Most of all, I want her to grow to be who she wants to be because after consideration and logical examination she’s decided that it’s what SHE wants. Not what the media, her peers and anyone else (including me, eventually) may try to impress upon her.

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