M will be 3 in September 2010. Anyone who knows me in real life knows that I am not really a “girly girl”–whatever that really means–and you won’t find much pink among my threads. A few dresses hang in my closet, but the fine layer of dust gives away that I am not very comfortable wearing them often. So whether it has been a conscious or subconscious decision on my part, M has not had more than a dress here or there in her wardrobe over the past few years, other than those purchased for special occasions. Aside from my own personal clothing preferences, they just were not worth the hassle, what with the jamming of pudgy little legs and diapers into tights and all.
But about three or four weeks ago we were going through a bin of second hand clothes that had been hibernating under her bed and there was a floral seersucker dress in there–bright pinks and greens. Probably something you’d find on Lilly Pulitzer’s cousin’s bathroom walls or something. And M was immediately drawn to it…in a way that I had never expected. Here was a little girl who had never before expressed any interest in any particular piece of clothing now begging to put it on and wear it. Every. Day. She was using phrases like “it’s my favorite” and “I love that dress”. And you could see it in her body language and her eyes how amazing and confident she felt in it.
Being at such a young age, I did not expect her to have that same kind of feeling that I have had for certain clothes over time. You know the ones. Even when you’re feeling a little stout or blimpy, there’s that shirt in your closet that does wonders for your shoulders. Or those pants that somehow gracefully hide the mounds of ice cream you ate last weekend so that you can still walk with your head held high. Even the funky socks that you break out when you’re otherwise not feeling up to the task of impressing anyone, at least your feet will look fantastic.
Given that her father and I are really the only ones who say anything about what she’s wearing for the day, minus those days we’re with grandparents, I really think that this feeling came from within, and is her first foray into experiencing a boost of self-esteem purely based on what she’s wearing. And so, despite the fact that the dress may soon be walking on its own, we have been indulging her and thus the dress is being worn almost daily. We can have the battles about clothes later when she’s older. For now, if she’s feeling pretty who am I to tell her no…I hope she always feels that way.
What clothing makes you feel fabulous?
“I see your boobies wiggling!”
These are the words that were uttered to me one morning as I woke up in bed with M next to me. Barely awake, I laughed out loud a hearty belly laugh because the pure honesty of her words struck me as hilarious. It also made me make a mental note that I should wear a good supportive bra if she and I are ever in mixed company!
What is great about kids in general, but particularly around her age, is that they call it like they see it. Her “observation” reminded me of the time a few weeks before when I was sitting next to her while she was falling asleep in her bed, and she very seriously told me, “mommy your breath stinks” and put her little warm hand over my mouth and gently pushed me back. Admittedly, I was a little embarrassed and wondered how many times before I might have stymied her ability to fall asleep before she had the words to express such things. As her language develops, I am sure I will hear much more that calls into question my appearance and overall presence in general.
Some people get embarrassed by things their kids say. Some of the (un)intended recipients of these types of comments—people waiting in line at the grocery store in particular—who do not understand where kids are coming from can get miffed or annoyed. But up until a certain age, none of these types of comments can be deemed mean spirited because I honestly believe that’s not how kids think. They see and think about things very literally as they try to learn about the world around them. Like when M asked me (in a very loud voice) why the man at the (very quiet) post office was walking with a cane. Since I was comfortable answering the question (some people need help walking, just like you need help sometimes going up the stairs and hold my hand), there was no need for me to be overly hushed with my response or nervous about how the man with the cane might react (he’s probably heard worse from adults!). Using that kind of lens, I think that’s why most of the time I am usually bemused by the things M and her little friends say, or at the very least, not embarrassed.
Remembering how the wiggling booby remark made me laugh, she now occasionally throws it out there to be funny and make me laugh or forget that she was just being fresh or getting into something she shouldn’t be. And she always does.
A Q for you: What has your little one said that has made you laugh or smile just because it was so purely honest?
Not too long ago, one morning as we were in the car backing out of the driveway to head towards M’s preschool, a little voice from behind me quietly asks, “Mommy, what excitement mean?” As I tried to think of an explanation that would suit a little one who was a few months shy of three years old, a rush of emotions went through me—including sadness because I realized once again these are the types of things that I do not witness for upwards of nine hours a day. I was also in awe of her growing ability to ask these types of questions. Such a simple question and I was touched to say the least.
But how to answer? At first, I had no words—and with her having a short attention span for the topic at hand, I had to think of an answer quickly or else she’d already be on to the next question, probably something about poop. But I wanted to try my hand at answering this one because I knew it was just a mild, watered down version of the types of questions she’d soon be asking me. Excitement? Hmm.….elation…extreme happiness…giddiness…something that sends you over the moon…none of these would work. I had to give a concrete example or two. For me, “excitement” means winning a difficult court case that was tenuous at best, or trying a really complicated recipe that comes out better than perfect. Excitement also means traveling somewhere new or having a family member say they’re getting married or having a baby. My excitement also usually includes the rush when I start (or sometimes finish) a new book or see a really great action thriller movie. Again…not concepts that are going to mean much to her.
Almost to the middle of our street and still haven’t answered the question. And then I remembered her laugh and how she jumps up and down when she’s excited. My heart melts every time because it is so pure and without abandon, and it is always for the “little things” in our daily life that us older folks tend to take for granted. So I told her that “excitement” means when she sees our neighbor’s fuzzy black cat passing through our yard. Excitement is getting to eat a chocolate chip cookie or a small piece of chocolate. Excitement is going to the park to go on the swings. Excitement is daddy or me saying that she can go play with her neighborhood pals for a few minutes before bath time.
Then I told her that one thing that we both get excited about is when I come to pick her up at the end of the day, when she runs across the room to have me scoop her up and how we are both so happy to see each other again. I think she understood.
And then she asked me if I pooped that morning.
A Q for you: How do you / does your little one define “excitement”?
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