Sunday, May 30, 2010

Evolution (in reverse)


Princess Dress-Up Set & Wondercharms Necklace, MEDIUM 

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

It's 90 degrees. Let's just look at a funny picture today.

Please click this to see the full scale:
Ariel's message is my favorite.  

Thanks, Kristi, for sending this, via Rachel Simmon's twitter
Link link linkity link!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

She Who Wears The Pants

One of the things I love about the nursery school that C goes to is this: she comes home dirty.
I send her to school in clean clothes, and she returns to me with paint on her shirt and dirt under her fingernails.

She has a closet full of lovely dresses that came as hand-me-downs and gifts.  For many weeks, when picking out her clothes, she has chosen only dresses.  This didn't present a problem in the winter, because snow pants can be worn over anything.  And in Rochester, they are. 

But we've gotten into warmer weather, and tree climbing and bike riding season are upon us.  The long dresses kept catching as she climbed up playground sets, until she would hop down and say, "That's okay, I don't have to do this right now."  I've tried to convince her to wear shorts or pants to protect her legs, and to help her go further in her physical play rather than retract.

Have you ever tried to convince a three year old to do something?

So, I removed all the dresses for a temporary time.  Each morning she'd throw open her closet door, look at the swinging hangars, and say, "Guess my dresses aren't clean yet...I'll just wait until they are."  And then she'd march around in underwear as though any minute all the dresses would come up from the wash and hang themselves back up.

The fact that she only liked to wear dresses did not concern me.  When I was a kid, I only liked to wear Jams.  For a full year, I wore Jams because why would you wear anything else?


But it was when her thought behind this was revealed that I was perturbed.  In a frenzy of underwear marching and waiting for the dresses, and me directing her to pick something else, she began to cry that princesses don't wear pants, or shorts.  They wear dresses.

Except it was in the voice of an exorcist and there was a lot of flailing arms and jumping up and down for emphasis.

My attempts of telling her stories about girls who did wear pants were quickly discarded in favor of more underwear marching.

In the midst of this phase, C was playing in the basement while I was sorting through some boxes and bags.  In a suitcase that was too heavy to move, I unzipped it to find no less than 793 Star Wars action figures and space ships from 1977.  My husband comes from organized people, and all of his Star Wars toys were zipped safely into this giant piece of luggage.  C was at my side instantaneously, digging her hands in as though she'd discovered gold in action figure form.  A steady stream of questions poured from her lips, none of which I could answer because I know 2 things about Star Wars:

1. Joseph Campbell talks about it a lot.
2. I forgot the other thing. 

Then C inhaled deeply, thrust her fist into the depths of the bag and pulled up the lone woman in the whole mess.
"Who.  Is.  This."

I could answer that question:
"Princess Leia."

"But she's wearing pants."

"Yes, she is."

"But what is her name?"

"Princess Leia."

"But she's wearing pants."

"Yes, she is."

"Princess Leia?"


We put the giant suitcase aside, except for the Princess that wears the pants.  And because I don't know much about Star Wars, I've given myself free reign to make up our own stories.  Did you know that Princess Leia rides her bike very fast?  And cleans up her toys when she's done playing?  And loves to read stories and color and paint?

And guess who can't wait to put on pants every morning?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Mickey Mouse Monopoly

"We have no obligation to make history.  We have no obligation to make art.  We have no obligation to make a statement.  To make money is our only objective."
--Michael Eisner, CEO, Walt Disney Company from 1984-2005

The 30 seconds showing the portrayal of female characters within Disney film (2:47-3:29) were highly relevant for me.  Without even touching on dialogue or storyline, the images speak volumes. 

Hello, Bombshell!

One of the very simple things that Miss C loves to do is get the mail.  She loves standing on tiptoe, groping into the mailbox and pulling out fistfuls of envelopes.  She then likes to bring the stack inside and sort through it.  This involves looking for anything with stickers, markers, or her name on it. 

A few days ago we went to get the mail, and as she sat sorting through it, she called off the things she found: “This one is a note from Mimi.  It is very hot in Florida.” (She hands me a water utility bill.) “And this one is from Emma, she wants me to help her blow out her birthday candles.” (Hands me another bill.)  “Oh!  And here is one from the library,” she points an accusing finger at me, “You better pay those fines or NO MORE BOOKS for you.”  And with this, she hands me a credit card application.  “OH.  Mama, LOOK!”  She jumps up at and is holding a shiny pamphlet spotted with some type of leopard print.  “She's NURSING!”

I reached over to see the Victoria’s Secret advertisement, but her fingers were gripping those breasts with all her might.  She opened the small booklet and began studying its contents.  And the commentary went  like this, “She’s nursing.  And she’s nursing.  Oh, she’s nursing too!  She’s nursing and she needs a summer haircut.  And she’s nursing and her hair is in her eyes and she can’t see.”
This was the first flip through.

The second time, she moved from comments to questions:

“But how is she feeling?”

“And how is she feeling?”

“And how is she feeling?”

Her brow furrowed as she repeatedly asked this question about each underwear model.
This is a very common question for C, and she often asks it when we’re reading or when she sees pictures she’s trying to understand.  It’s led to us talking about feeling joyful, sad, angry, jealous, surprised, playful, interested, confused, and curious, among others.  But oops!  I forgot to tell her about sexy.  She knows an o-shaped mouth indicates a surprised face, but I plumb forgot to tell her about the partially opened mouth, crazed penetrating eyes, and tousled hair that covers half your face.

What was interesting was her guessing the feelings of these photos:
“Is she mad? No, well, confused?  No.  I think she is in pain.  Is she injured?  Did she get injured when she was nursing?  No, maybe she is just mad.  And cold.”

Sometimes we ask the wrong question.I get these ads from Victoria’s Secret because three years ago I ordered a bathing suit from them.  I was sitting with my then 6 month old at a beach, wearing the equivalent of Long Underwear Swim Wear, which involved something like a lycra turtleneck, and harem pants.  And another mother waltzed by in an actual bathing suit.  She was holding an infant in one arm, and the hand of a toddler in another.  And I immediately asked her where she got such a great swimsuit.  “Victoria’s Secret!” she enthused.

I should have asked her about her genetic composition.  Or how much time she spent at the gym.  But I asked about the product, and then I went and bought it.  And so for three years I’ve gotten these little, harmless ads that I send right to recycling, not even thinking about them.  Until my daughter literally has steam coming out of her head from the work her brain is doing trying to comprehend that look that is on all the women’s faces.  How are they feeling?

Before tossing the advertisement into the recycling bin, I finally called and removed myself from VS's valued customer list.

And C determined that this is how they are feeling:


Because if they are nursing the baby all night, then they want to go to sleep.
Good thing the photos show a bed in the background, because that tired, mad, cold, injured, nursing mama might need to fall in and get some rest.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Bed Time Story

My little princess spent the morning making play-doh spaghetti for her prince, giving me the choice of playing the prince, or the prince, and then turned all of her stuffed animals into, you guessed it, the prince, when setting up her Prince Zoo.  Did I mention she found her glass slippers this past weekend?  Thought I'd cleared out everything, but THOSE, it turns out, were under the couch.  Along with a good number of Cheerios, dust creatures, and some goldfish.  She pulled them out, and as though she'd won the toddler lottery, was soon running laps and screeching simultaneously, "My gwaaasssss swipppeerrs!  Oh my gwaaaaassssss swiiiiiippppperrrrrrrrss!"  I was laughing as she hugged them to her chest, nuzzled the hard plastic against her cheek, until The Play began again, a return of very rigid roles, very stiff walking, and then sitting on the step waiting for the rescue.   After the rescue? She's off making spaghetti for her prince, because apparently he's Italian as well nameless.  

So, I made a quick run to the library to pick up a book recommended by Megs and Kristi.
While there, I asked the children's librarian if she had any books to recommend in the same vein of expanding the DP idea.  She must have been waiting for someone to ask this question, because she immediately got up and began stockpiling books, dropping them into my arms, beelining to another section of the library and returning with more books.  Turns out she has daughters!  Two of them!  I should really talk to my librarians more often.  I wobbled to checkout, paid my overdue fines, and wobbled out to my car, my chin resting upon The Paper Bag Princess 

 We read it at bedtime, and here is the run-on sentence summary: the Prince is there when the Princess is dressed lovely, but when she shows up hair a mess, sweaty and wearing a paper bag, he rejects her, tells her she looks unacceptable.  And then she tells him he's very handsome, but a bum.  And she skips off into a sunset.

After reading it, there were some questions Miss C had:

"What's a bum?"
"Why does she walk away alone?"
"Why do they not get married after all?"
"Will you read it again?"

I read it again.  More questions:
"Why does he say that?"
"Is he unkind?"
"Does he need a kind prince to show him how to be kind?"
"Does she not choose him?"
"Will you read it again?"

Third reading.
"Why is he unkind sometimes?"
"Why is he kind here?" (points to prince standing with dressed-up princess)
"But not here?" (points to prince telling princess to go pull herself together).
"Why does he tell her to get her dress?"

The fact that the prince is unkind in the end boggled her mind.  We talked about people who are kind, and loving, no matter what you are wearing, or how you look.  She was upset about the princess going off alone, and so I asked her, "Do you think she should have chosen him?"
"No.  He was not kind.  But could a different prince show him how to be kind?"
"Maybe." I said.  "That's a good question.  What do you think?"

She leaned back against her bed, quiet for a moment, and made her first declarative since we opened the book:
"You know.  I think I know.  That prince..." she looked at me very seriously.  "He wanted to be a man princess.  He really liked that dress, and wants to be a princess himself."
I sat there, chewing on this transgender interpretation.
Satisfied with her answer, she added, "He should probably just get his own dress."

The Paper Bag Princess.

Good night.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Everyone In Government is Freaking Hideous

 I came across an old journal of mine from my early teen years, and one entry began: THINGS I WILL NEVER DO WHEN I HAVE A DAUGHTER.Following was a list of things that involved curfews and rules and, well, more rules.  And some other stuff about rules, how dumb they were, and really utterly unnecessary.

Being a parent has been the most humbling experience of my life.
I've never known how many ways there are to mess up, second-guess, and then keep messing up.  Does the messing up ever stop?
But enough about my parenting foibles.
One friend of mine sent some of her thoughts my way.
Her mom did not allow her to have Barbies as a child, and she was the ONLY KID without a Barbie.  Looking back at the why of this, she writes,
I think it was more about teaching me to like myself and trying to avoid having weird, narrow, impossible ideas about beauty and a distorted sense of femininity jammed down my throat. It was part of a larger idea, I think a backlash to being raised in the 50's... There were a lot of things - no makeup, jewelry, dressing a bit too much like a Pilgrim, etc. Note: I would avoid doing anything to help make your child a social reject.

She goes on:
I think WAY too much emphasis is placed on women's looks all across the board (like people talking about Hillary Clinton's hair or ankles when everyone in government is freakin' hideous) and in  many cases, it is what women are noticed or praised for, rather than being smart or funny or creative. I sometimes wonder if the emphasis on looks comes at the expense of developing these other skills. In retrospect I think many of my mom's ideas were great and probably helped us be strong, healthly independent women who don't have eating disorders.
There are two points here from my wise friend:

1.  How much potential remains untapped because instead of developing fully, we're learning how to curl our eyelashes?  Or straighten our hair?  Or reading about "makeup magic" and "the best bikini for you"?
Kimberley Walsh Cosmopolitan Magazine June 2010 Cover Photo - 
United KingdomBecause this, right here, takes up brain space.  And I'd actually prefer if anyone who works for me in government doesn't look even a little bit like they're trying to be hot.  Because there's not enough time to read through every bill AND get a Pilates 8 pack.  There's just not.  Besides, when is the last time someone did a fashion shake down on these guys:

Democrats are on your side.
I want my representatives teeth to be the color of coffee from late nights working towards justice for all.

We keep confusing the two worlds:

Paid models = less than 5% of the population, ooooh, plus re-imaging, so actually 0% of the population.

And then us.  You and me and everyone we know.  And the people we vote into office.

2.   Would my wise friend be the sage she is today had her mom NOT dressed her like a pilgrim?  Or the bigger question here: what did yer mama do right?  Or what did she do so wrong that they are now THINGS YOU WILL NEVER DO WHEN YOU HAVE A DAUGHTER?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Disney Couture for Women

Yours for only $59.95.  Plus shipping and handling.
Scoop Neck Sketch Ariel Tee by 
Disney Couture for Women

I'm not sure if Ariel's sultry glance is the right fashion choice for me.
I'll probably stick with the "Princess Evil Queen" top.  
Fitted The Art of 
the Disney Princess Evil Queen Top by Disney Couture 
The design rings a little of the Virgin/Whore dichotomy.
But it's only $39.95!  
The Disney website describes the above top as:
Fitted Tee
The Evil Queen strikes fear in the heart of the fleeing Snow White and provides unmistakable style on our flirty, floaty, fashionable Evil Queen Top by Disney Couture.
If I could only find one in 3T, Miss C and I could coordinate. 

Monday, May 10, 2010

Books: Step 1,2,3

1. Complicate Their Thinking:

 Just seeing the cover of this book confused my daughter.

Is this Cinderella? 
Where are the talking mice?
Why is her hair not yellow?  
The godmother goes to the ball?
The prince has a name?  And his name is Paul??

She kept opening and closing the book, checking the cover as if for clues.


At the end of the third read, we talked about the fact that there are many different ways to tell the story of Cinderella, and that the story can change depending on where it's coming from.

2. Strong Princess, No Prince Necessary:

 Best part about this book?
There's no accompanying underwear.
Also, the princess rides a warthog.
And has a pet porcupine.  
Life doesn't get much better than that.
3.  Finally, Real Women:
These two books about artist Georgia O'Keefe have been heavy in our rotation:
 Best part of both books?
Georgia embraces getting old.
Remember that notion?
Me neither.
 My Name is Georgia.  And, Through Georgia's Eyes.
Buy beautiful books.
Preferably, ones that don't come with bras and panties.