I knew raising a daughter would not come easy for me. In fact, the idea of having a daughter scared me so much that I decided to keep the sex a surprise when I learned I was pregnant. I was not an overly feminine girl nor could I easily relate to other girls. I was a very awkward child and I found most girls to be downright mean. I still find girls to be overly judgmental and mean and I’m very surprised how early it begins. My fear was that I would not be able to relate with a daughter and provide her with all the feminine things she desired. When I learned that you were in fact a girl, the fear inside me grew instantly. Would I be given a daughter who was obsessed with princesses and vanity? Would she be mean and judgmental toward other girls? Would she be blindsided by the obsession of love and marriage and miss out on all the other beautiful things life has to offer? Most of the questions have yet to be answered but the more you become enveloped in over the top “girly” things, the stronger that fear inside me grows. My greatest fear is you will sell yourself short–stereotype yourself in to believing a girl should act and do certain things in a certain matter. Sadly, the more I press on certain matters with you, the more you fight back. The more I try to convince you that jeans are more practical when playing on a playground, the more you push back and argue that jeans are not pretty and you will only entertain wearing a dress.
I struggle greatly with your obsession with princesses. I’m sure a lot of people out there would roll their eyes at that statement and strongly disagree with my disapproval. Sure, at times I should just let you be a girl and allow you to embrace your strong feminine instincts. However, my struggle comes when I notice certain little habits forming that I fear may snowball in to something bigger and perhaps even damaging. The older princess movies were so bad at depicting female characters–always showing them in some kind of distress and needing a prince to rescue them. I hear a lot of play involving needing to be rescued or needing to be pretty so people will like you.
You like to stare at yourself a great deal in the mirror–often times, really studying every square inch of your body. This is normal of course but I remember being infatuated with my Barbies. They were so much curvier than I was and I was confused whether I was supposed to look like that. I remember spending a great deal of time comparing my body and feeling less than adequate with what I was seeing in the mirror. You refuse to where certain articles of clothing because you deem them unpretty and claim so and so won’t play with you at school if they don’t find your outfit pretty. Mean girls.
When you play with Miles, you often pretend to marry him and on a couple occasions, I’ve even witnessed you try to replicate the kiss that you often see in the endings of fairytales. I’m sure you and Miles will love to hear this when you’re teenagers. When ever you’re asked the all holy question, what do you want to be when you grow up? You would always respond with, princess. Oh, my sweet daughter, there is so much more out there in the world for you and I hate that you are seemingly short-changed at such an early age. A couple weeks ago, for the first time, you changed your response. Instead you responded with, face painter. I had a flicker of hope because princess was moved to the back burner. I can work with face painter–there is a lot of potential there. I began to envision all sorts of scenarios and then you uttered, everybody needs lipstick! I am so screwed.
Often times, I do my best to not show you how much I detest princesses and the color pink and I let you do your thing. I in turn, try to expose you to as much of other things as possible. From the dawn of time, kids have always wanted to do the opposite of what their parents wished for and you are no different. If I were to clue you in as to how much I despise girly things, it would only solidify your obsession. I never want to inhibit you from exploring your passions and if that passion means discovering your femininity than I guess I need to just bite my damn lip however hard that may be. In turn, I try to expose you to things that will allow you to see the many other possibilities in the world. Christmas has been interesting thus far as I attempt to be smart about my gifts to you this year. Finding gifts for girls that are not pink and plastic is a damn near impossible task and I’ve really struggled with finding decent things for you. After seeing your wishlist to Santa, you will most likely be downright depressed at your Christmas day offerings and I apologize if you are not overly thrilled but I hope one day you will look back and understand. Either that or you will rebel and become a pageant queen.
Despite your love for very girly things, I am happy to see that you are enjoying very physical activities. You have recently discovered the monkey bars at school and you became downright obsessed with mastering them. You would come home with hands filled with blisters and despite what ever pain you were feeling, you were determined to tackle the bars all over again the next day. In addition to your monkey bar obsession, you are continuing to thrive in swimming. You recently learned backstroke and in fact not only surprised me but every other teacher in the water when before your first backstroke lesson, you proclaimed you already knew it and then proceeded to show everyone your amazing backstroke. I would even go as far as saying that you have a better backstroke than I do. You love swimming and I’ve even noticed you taking an interest in diving which scares me down to my core. You’re fearless when it comes to diving and I’m sure you will continue to scare me by one day pursuing the high-dive. Please don’t do this to me.
It is December and if you don’t know it already, this is my favorite month. I love Christmas and I ultimately love experiencing this holiday through yours and Miles’ eyes. Witnessing a child discover Christmas is so beautiful, magical and pure and you can’t help but feel young at heart when you’re surrounded by children at Christmastime. Unfortunately, in my best intentions to create an advent calendar filled with goodies and events, somehow something got lost in translation and you have come down with a wicked case of the gimmies. Perhaps it’s your age or our culture or perhaps it’s the way you have been raised. What once was created out of love and as a way to be excited for the holiday as a family, quickly turns in to tantrums and disappointment when something pops up that you’re not crazy about. So how does one take a wicked spoiled child and teach them the true meaning of the holiday? If I had my wish, I would make you take all your gifts and hand them in person to children in need. When I threaten you with this, you roll your eyes at me. I swear, you push me hard enough and this may be your future followed by a heaping bowl of rice pilaf, your favorite.
I honestly can’t blame you too much for your less than stellar behavior right now. Christmas can become a very excessive and indulgent time. How do you avoid the gimmies when there are at least three toy catalogs that enter my mailbox everyday and every other person you talk to asks, what do you want for Christmas? I mean, for crying out loud, you’re asked to compile a list for a man whose sole purpose is to bring you toys. How does a child not take advantage of that? I do my best to course-correct your behavior when I can but I’m also reminding myself that I too was a kid once and I too probably became demanding right around this time. I’m not saying I’m going to let it slide but you better believe you’re going to get raisins under the tree if you keep it up.
You’re becoming such a young lady and I worry about these little things because I only want the best for you. The potential in you is enormous and I want to see you reach for the stars. Does an obsession with princesses and pink mean you won’t experience great success? No. Does it mean you might become a child prostitute? Maybe. The point is, I shouldn’t worry about your interests and I understand I should let a lot of it go. A lot of the sassiness you send my way, most of it I should ignore. I’m a worrier and I’m also a parent. I will never stop worrying about you so as much as I need to bite my lip and get over things, you’re going to need to do the same thing because it’s obvious that neither one of us is going to change. I have the advantage though–I recently discovered that you will do just about anything I ask as long as you receive gum in exchange. I know gum won’t last as a bargaining tool forever but you can count on the fact that I’m going to beat that in to the ground. So, to sum it all up, this Christmas, if things continue to go the way they are heading, you should expect to find under the tree, gender neutral puzzles and blocks, jeans, rice pilaf, gum and a box of raisins. You’re welcome and Merry Christmas!
You, according to my phone: