Well, last night was awful, but I’m starting to feel better. I really hate sore throats. But being sick did remind me that it’s been quite a while since I had a cold like this. So that’s good. Today we had a full day of babysitting scheduled, thank goodness. I was able to rest in between nursing the babies. That helped.
What’s on my mind right now is Hazel’s recently acquired focus on appearance, and her frequently asked question, “Mama, do I look pretty?” This is often followed by, “I’m going to put on chapstick and a dress, and then I’ll be pretty.” I have been struggling with this. I really dislike the whole pink/princess thing, and I thought I’d have more time before the issue of how Hazel looks kicked into her thought process and our dialogue. I’m definitely doing more parenting on the fly (is any parenting not that way?) I was reminded by a dear friend of the “Free To Be You And Me” movie which was standard viewing material at our very liberal school when I was a kid. I think I’m going to get the soundtrack. I can’t excise the princess virus from society, but I can add other things into the equation in our own home and family.
There’s a land that I see where the children are free
And I say it ain’t far to this land from where we are
Take my hand come with me where the children are free
Come with me, take my hand, and we’ll live
In a land where the river runs free
In a land through the green country
In a land to a shining sea
In a land where the horses run free
And you and me are free to be you and me.
Every boy in this land grows to be his own man
In this land, every girl grows to be her own woman
Take my hand, come with me
where the children are free
Come with me, take my hand, and we’ll run
To a land where the river runs free
To a land through the green country
To a land to a shining sea
To a land where the horses run free
To a land where the children are free
And you and me are free to be
And you and me are free to be
And you and me are free to be you and me
It does feel far away to me, but at least I can play the CD here, and I can play things other than princess with Hazel. The harder thing is to find creative answers to the pretty question she’s started asking. I do wonder where she’s getting that. Not from us. I appreciate the link my friend reminded me of, to return to when I fall into the insidious trap of thinking it’s not a big deal: the Poetry Slam “Am I Pretty?”. It’s good to be reminded of some of the consequences, so that I can be well-informed, intentional and careful in how I address these issues with my daughter(s). But I thought I’d have more time before having to field this one. I was crying about it today. The focus on appearance as a meter of self-worth starts so early. My dear, darling daughter is a beautiful, fantastic, interested, kind, caring, adventurous, strong, interesting person, and I want her to know that in her bones and her cells, her heart and soul.
I will not tell Hazel that she’s pretty. Too much cultural baggage. But I will tell her so many other things.
I will tell her I love her eyes, her curiosity, that she likes to share and give things to people. I will tell her that her voice is so musical and sweet; that there is wonderful strong muscle all over her body; that I love seeing her hair up in hair trees like I used to have. I will tell her that listening to her sing is one of the delights of my life; that she has gorgeous long black eyelashes; and that it’s so fun to go swimming with her, because we share a love of the water. I will tell her that her Dad and I love to build things with her out of the fantastic blocks sent to us by her granddad. I will tell her that it’s so wonderful to see her making friends with other kids and adults.
The list will go on and on through our life together. And as Hazel has been telling me lately (after I explained that our babysitter was still her mother’s kid even though she’s an adult), “I’ll always be your kid, Mommy.” Yes, sweetie, you’ll always be my daughter, and I’ll always love you.