Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Where Credit is Due

Over a week ago, my friend Katie was driving the long distance to Chicago, and stopped in Rochester as her half-way point.
After meeting Miss C for the first time, she commented on how strange it was to meet this person, saying, "I feel like I already know her from your blog."
And then after playing with her for a bit, added, "She is really into being Cinderella."

Miss C really is into Cinderella.  That detail hasn't changed since Recovery started back in April.
But what has changed is how she plays Cinderella, and what else she's playing.
When she plays Cinderella, there's rarely a trace of the scripted version, or the focus on looking exactly like Cinderella looks.  These days, Cinderella is both a doctor and a garbage truck driver, and her brother, The Prince is often shy.
These days, Cinderella has a sister named Emma, and she loves to tell Emma all about how to do things, and how to navigate the world.  When she's not driving the garbage truck.

When she's not playing one of the many forms of Cinderella, she is obsessed with insects, asking me if we can collect every specimen outside and bring them in to give them baths, make them beans and rice, and tuck them into bed with her.
When we find spiders in the house, she loves to lie on her belly and watch them as they scurry away from her nimbly moving fingers.
There have been some compromises: I let her catch the spiders in a jar and take them outside for release.  This seems a better option than her showing me how one is climbing up her arm the moment I step out of the shower.

Also, since she keeps asking for a pet tarantula, I've told her about ant farms.
Nothing against tarantulas.
Or, who am I kidding, everything against tarantulas, including the possibility of her slipping one under my pillow for snuggles.
Ants seem a little safer.  And really locked into that farm.

I don't talk much about extended family here.  But I'd like to take a minute and give some props.
I referred to the conversations that Dave and I had with our parents, the main suppliers Disney Princesses.  My parents would show the movies, and Dave's mom, who spends a good deal of time near Orlando, would find all the princess gear.  (Have you been to the Orlando airport?  Let the experts direct you!)
One thing I've learned through this process is that if young children are the targets of advertising, so are grandparents.  Grandparents have that great gift in life: to be able to think of the child's desire and delight.  Parents are for consequences, tantrums, time-outs, and torture.
So it makes sense to me that both our sets of parents were all into Disney Princess stuff on different fronts.
(Remember: $15 billion dollar industry.)

Dave and I had a series of conversations to help our parents understand what we object to, and that we're not trying to spoil their fun or bonding.
We'd just prefer them to bond with our daughter over tarantulas.
Is that such a big deal?
I would talk to my parents, he to his.
Dave believed this would give our parents the room to get pissed off openly express frustration if they felt we were being too uptight, demanding, constricting, controlling, unbalanced, or unAmerican.
Over time, the Grandparents have come to support us, and sometimes understand us.
And I'm really, really thankful for this.
Some props:

My parents have pulled out their old videos of my tumbling childhood.  Miss C loves watching these over there as much as she loved Cinderella.  She loves to watch my older sister, (age 4) pick me up (age 6 months) and drag my feet on the ground to show me how walking is done.  Apparently, I was a pacifist from the very beginning, as I never turned and tackled her from the knees, permitting this dragging to go on for hours.

Dave's mom is an expert shopper.  She has the kind of skill where she will hold up 27 items from a bag, one by one, tell us what each one cost at full price, then describe how with a coupon, PLUS the 75% off sale, PLUS the one-day discount of 9.4%, she only paid ONE DOLLAR for everything.
Boggles my mind every time.
It could be clothes, kitchenware, or dirt.
It could be any store, any country.
She learned to haggle while in a open air market abroad, and the experience profoundly changed her.  She came back like, "This is what they do over there," and Dave was like, "I think you can do that in our public market too."
Now she goes to Bon-Ton and glances at price tags as though they were mere suggestions.
Since we've asked for no more DP stuff (which is just mean, because, again, Orlando) (PLUS, they're always on sale, those DP's!), she, being a resourceful woman, being a shopper, found other outlets.
Like this recent gift:
If it says $6.99 on the website, that means she paid 27 cents.

And this one, which Miss C runs to in the morning:

She loves to stick the magnetic critters all over the pages, and make up stories about the pink crab spider and the tarantula, and then asks me to join in.  Since spiders have never been my strong suit, I opt for the ladybug, even though she always gets eaten in the end.

Long post longer: sometimes difficult conversations are worth having.
Sometimes sharing a book or DVD can help back you up.
Sometimes things take awhile to shift, and change seems impermanent.
And finally, learning that asking change of yourself  is hard enough, but asking it of others is a pathologically optimistic thing to do.
But maybe, if they are Grandparents, and hopefully, if the end goal is mutual, it just might work toward better.
Or, better enough.

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