Friday, August 20, 2010

Now I've gone and got myself all riled up

Ollie is still doing great at daycare. One thing that is nice, about Ollie, in daycare, is that he is a boy. No one cares what he wears. In fact, today I did not even go so far as to put pants on him. I did put pants on myself, but only because I had to go to work. No one cares about his hair. Mostly they just find him charming, and nod approvingly at his lightning-fast crawling, his endless appetite, and his ceaseless quest for destruction. And that is that, and it's all very straightforward.


I have been working on Dylan to be polite when people say hi to her, and not just burrow her head down. She's hit or miss with this. If she's in a good mood she'll cheerfully great anyone, but in the mornings she's shy and sleepy. The other day I asked if she would say hi when people talked to her at school that morning and she said, yes, today, but not tomorrow. She repeated this to her teacher, and added, sort of jokingly, tomorrow I will be a MONSTER. Her teacher, who I really like, said, how about if you be a princess instead?

This had been relentless for her, since she was a baby. Her clothes get commented on every day. Her hair gets done at least once a week. Her (delightful) teachers in her two-year-old class took great pleasure in picking out pink cups for all the girls. That is a done deal. Pink is her very favorite color now and forever. And she's starting to figure out that I've been getting her the wrong pink. It's not the dark shade, mixed with yellow stripes or brown polka dots. It's light pink, mixed with lace or fairy wings, that she's supposed to like.

Some of this stuff has undoubtedly been good for her. She is excellent at navigating relationships with friends and can get along with any kid of any age, and pretty much likes every kid she meets. BUT OH MY GOD THE PRINCESS STUFF. This is not just some kind of pet peeve of mind. I really think it is an unequivocally negative influence for the girls. It models bossiness and idealizes clothing and beauty and finding the right man and having everyone do what you want. Maybe they don't all take every one of those messages away from this stuff, but it sucks to expose them to something where you are hoping they don't take too much away from it. I also think it plugs them right into all the next stage of media stuff that sucks for girls.

I am frustrated because it seems like few people will back me up on this. [Besides Aaron. Who is such a feminist that he one time told me he didn't think the characters in the Simpsons were set up to let the female voice actors shine enough.] Just like we can decide to be a tolerant society, but still not be tolerant of bigotry, we can be supportive of Dylan's likes and interests, but still do our best not to encourage THIS interest. It is a cheap and easy way to make her exceedingly happy, but many many things make her exceedingly happy. Give her a tiny little lollipop and she's set for like an hour.

Also, this is my kid and she has to live with me. It's best for everyone if she's not constantly nattering on about something that makes me livid. Although she is absolutely fixated on being Ariel for Halloween. We all know how I feel about Halloween and now with two (2!) children to dress up the possibilities are endless. But even I do not have it in me to forbid her from being what she wants to be for Halloween. I often suggest alternatives, but so far it's not working. I don't think the Little Mermaid is so bad, per se, but I try to play into the whole princess complex as little as possible. Ollie will obviously have to be Sebastian. But honestly, that doesn't make me less serious about this.


V said...

I have a related problem. When I was pregnant, I made my position on the matter very clear... no princess stuff allowed. Which prompted everyone in the world to buy every princess-related item they came across. I have stopped harping on it because I feel that I only succeeded in aggravating the issue. My family thinks it's some kind of joke.

Annie ~ إني said...

Many of the most liberal people I know pooh-pooh my feminist rants as well. The key is to sigh a lot and write poetry about the allegory of the cave.

bleisenblog said...

we are all but echoes of shadows
but lo
what are the seven dwarfs

Brigid said...

Kate, I totally agree with you on this one! Especially the next stage of media crap that girls (and parents of girls) have to contend with. It seems like everything out there that is aimed at tween and teen girls is overly sexualized...and really, when you're dealing with stuff that's geared toward 11 and 12 year olds, do we REALLY need to include anything sexual there at all? Apparently, someone has decided yes. Sometimes it seems like the best we can do is limit it as much as possible and have ongoing dialogue about what it all means and why it's WRONG that this is the primary focus of every stinking thing that comes on tv/magazines/songs/etc etc etc.

Sarah said...

I tried to leave a comment before but apparently I failed. anyway, I agree with you completely, we don't do the princess thing. unfortunately every other little girl is princess crazy so it's hard to avoid. try getting dylan obsessed with outer space instead, eloise is in love with space and it's a good stand-in as an all-consuming interest. I imagine dinosaurs would also work.