A pat on the back...Princesses
No one tells you that you are doing a good job at parenting. And, a lot of the experience of parenting tells you that you are doing a crappy job. For example, Miriam was up 5 times last night (I hate this new reality) and I don't really remember the 4 times that I was good to her and soothing to her last night- I remember the time that I yelled at her because dammit I wanted to go back to sleep!
Because we are too good at remembering our failings as parents I am going to start posting, regularly, about things I/we do well. I would love for you to join me. If you blog please- "pat yourself on the back" or if you want I would love for you to post here. I would welcome your submissions!
So here is on thing "I want to pat myself on the back" for...
So what got me thinking about this is that I have been talking about how I have been dealing with Junia and wanting to be a "princess" with other parents. I was reflecting on why I have been talking to other parents and I realized that I wanted them to tell me that this was okay and even good. I realized, upon reflection, that there are times where I need to claim that I think that this is a good way to deal with this...
So, Junia told us she wanted to be a princess for Halloween. In the moment I heard it I freaked out. Imagine sipping coffee and it spraying through my teeth and me saying, "no, no, something in nature." Okay well there was no coffee but if there had been it would have been shot out of my mouth!
She decided to be a bird.
In her dress up clothes are several frilly dresses (they happen to be disney princess dresses but she doesn't know that because she's never been exposed to disney princesses) that were given to me by another parent whose daughters had outgrown them. Junia loves wearing these dresses. And I have no problem with that.
The other night she was wearing the dresses and said, "I am a princess."
I said, "are you helping people who don't have food or housing to get those things."
"No." She said.
"Are you just dressed up and dancing and having fun?"
"Yes." She said.
"Then you are a wedding guest."
"Okay. I'm at a wedding receptioner."
Because I don't want her to believe that being dressed up and beautiful is how you get power (she can learn that in her own sweet time) and because I don't want her to believe that powerful people just get dressed up and sit around and ponder their love lives. I want her to know that if she want to play games where she is powerful and beautiful that is fine but that with power and beauty come social responsibility. That's a bit heavy for a three year old I know, but there ARE contexts where she can play dress up and dance and that is great too. After all, there are times when that is what we do- like parties or wedding receptions.
So when we play princess we might end up getting out all of her dolls that don't have enough to eat and feeding them or helping them find beds ore planting trees or whatever. And when we play dress up and dance then we will do that but we will not call it princess.
Additionally, Junia and her friends at school (who are planting all this princess stuff in the first place) might have a way to "play" princess if they know what princesses do other than concern themselves with their love lives.
And finally, even if princess is a real career option, even that does come with tremendous social responsibility-if I can get Kate Middleton (is that her last name now?) to guest blog here I will!
So maybe this is all about the stuff in my head. And if so, I think that is okay too. Because if telling myself this narrative about social responsibility makes me feel more free to parent and love and not freak out on my child then that is a very good thing.
So, today I pat myself on the back for:
Reflecting on my freaking out and making it palatable for both Junia and myself.
Talking about social responsibility with my child even if the context is a bit odd.
Not just saying no and making princesses more powerful and important in her imagination.