Posts Tagged ‘Raising a Girl’

I view my job of mother as that of encourage. I try my best to encourage my girls to love the things I do. I may have a thing against ‘girl toys’ but as long as they’re not really hurting anything, I hold my tongue. The girls are allowed to have their own interests. They’re allowed to like girlie things.

Back at Nicki’s old day care there was a teacher who would paint all the little girls’ (and some of the little boys) nails. One afternoon Nicki came running up to me, hand fully extended to show me her new artwork. Her teacher had given her a little smilie face on one nail. Nicki was in love and wanted all her nails done. How could I say no?

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Pink Glitter. So much better than the pepto bismol esque Barbie color

Painted finger nails on toddlers is not my cup of tea. I’m not a make up person, even as an adult. Photography is my thing. I take a lot of photos. Even though getting her nails done was a rare treat, I soon found my photos filled with orange, green, & pink nails. I was comfortable removing Nicki’s nail polish for big events, like Christmas and visiting Santa, but it didn’t seem right to ask Nicki to remove her nail polish every Friday because there might be an adorable moment I wanted to capture on the weekend.

Enter glitter nail polish.

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Purple Glitter

I knew she would love glitter nail polish from the start. What I didn’t know was that glitter polish can be incredibly subdued. The white glitter polish and pink glitter polish are hard to notice in photos. Even the purple glitter in the above photo isn’t that noticeable, for being, you know, purple. Nicki gets “sprinkles” on her nails, and I get the photos I want.

Of course she has the other non-glitter variety sometimes too.

September 16, 2014

Fashion Opinion

My two year old cracks me up. This weekend we went to Target looking for some oversized sweaters to use while doing maternity photography among other things. Nicole was sitting in the front of the cart while Domingo pushed. I found a pink one I liked, and went to put it in the cart. “Don’t like it!” she insisted as she stretched out her hand to block its entry into the cart. I tried to explain it was for me, but she was not having it. “Don’t like it!” She repeated.

I thought I’d have a few more years before my children start criticizing my fashion sense.

Nicole’s favorite color these days is loud. She loves neon green and orange. The brighter the better, especially if there are multiple colors. Especially, especially if they clash. She likes sparkles but not ruffles, and definitively not tulle of any kind. Fortunately for her, that’s the kind of stuff that seems to be in style these days. For daycare she can wear what ever she wants to wear. The probability of my kid finding the one permanent marker is proportional to the newness of the clothes. That lime green giraffe shirt? I don’t sweat as much. (And to be fair, neither does she.)

Fashion is not something I excel at, so I do little cheats. I buy white socks since they match anything (and, bonus, there’s no hunting down the missing matching sock when they all match!) Dark denim goes with anything. I will even buy multiples of a shirt I like. Sometimes even in the same size if it’s cheap enough. I figure there’s no fundamental difference between buying a $5 shirt I like and a $5 one I don’t verses two of the same $5 one. It’s the same number of clean shirts, and the same cost.

Some of my favorite clothes for Nicole have come from the boys section. I like her curious George shirt with the flap. Down, George is hiding in a paint can. Pull the flap up and he pops out! I like her mickey mouse shirt. I like simple colors with understated designs. I like the way they fit better. Girl shorts are short, even for two year olds. I find diapers and bare baby bums to be the most adorable things ever. Until they’re hanging out of a pair of too short shorts.

Maybe I shouldn’t be too surprised she has an opinion on my clothes shopping. After all, what do I know about style? Nine days out of ten I’m wearing a free conference t-shirt for a company that went out of business years ago.

January 26, 2014

Revisiting Girl Toys

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Putting a dozen princess bracelets on her foot. Because, why not?

It’s easy for someone in my position to have a gripe with ‘Girl Toys’. Computer science (my profession) has made great strides, but still remains male dominated. As such, it sometimes attracts people who think the field should remain so. I have been witness to such sexists remarks. Perhaps some people feel comfortable sharing these beliefs with me because I’m not stereotypically girly, and therefore not one of those girls who doesn’t belong. At least, that’s how I internalize those conversations. I’m not a mall crawler who likes to have her hair done and her nails polished, so I still belong. I want Nicki to belong in my world as well. To love math and science as I do.

Yet even though I’m not stereotypically girly in many respects, I am in others. Yes, I am a data scientist, a cross between a mathematician and statistician who never wears makeup, and am more comfortable sporting free t-shirts acquired from tech conferences than in wearing something ‘nice’. I also played with Barbies as a child, and collected model horses as a child. I prefer science fiction, but have been known to enjoy a romantic comedy. We are allowed to like contradictory things. Humans are complex creatures afterall with multiple facets to their personalities. Little humans are no exception. Just because a girl likes ‘girl toys’ doesn’t mean she can’t also like ‘boy toys’. It doesn’t mean she can’t grow up to be a mathematician.

I hate the notion of dumbed down ‘girl’ versions of otherwise gender neutral toys, but there’s nothing wrong in marketing toys specifically to girls. My goal as a parent is to expose Nicki to as many things as possible, and let her decide what she likes. That includes stereotypical ‘girl’ toys and interests.

That’s easy to say, harder to follow through.

This Christmas Nicki got both a baby doll, and a play kitchen. The play kitchen and doll were ideas that came right from day care. I picked her up a little on the early side one day and found Nicki, and her best friend Kai, playing together with the little wooden kitchen. They were mimicking washing dishes together. Last month she came home with a doll because she could not bear to be parted with it. Both toys were easy to justify, as both are great for creative play and role-playing. She feeds her doll (and other toys) constantly, both with baby bottles and spoons from her kitchen. She’s constantly mixing up something in her big sauce pan. She makes a mean headband soup.

She’s also been turning everything into jewelry: the rings on her stacker, headbands, even my work id lanyard. Anything that fits on her wrists or ankles goes on her wrists or ankles. I’m not sure where she learned to do that. Not from me, I don’t were jewelry other than wedding rings. Not that I can complain too much – her love of jewelry did make the pearl necklace photos that much easier. Unlike the kitchen or the doll it’s hard to come up with a good reason to introduce Nicki to custom jewelry. It’s not a role playing toy. It doesn’t help build her spacial awareness or fine motor control, at least no more than stickers and crayons do. The sole function of jewelry is too look pretty. But I knew she would like it. That should be reason enough.

I still want to discourage the idealization of princesses who wait for princes to come fix their problems, but I should let her enjoy playing princess. I don’t want Nicki to feel limited because of her gender, but I don’t want her to feel like she has to hide it either.

December 19, 2012

Legos are for Boys, Apparently

My sister and I had those big boxes of legos and k’necks growing up. They came with instructional booklets on how to build twenty to thirty different things. After building everything at least half a dozen times, we started coming up with our own designs. We built race cars to launch from the top at the stairs. At first the goal was to have the car that remained the most intact and go the furthest, but it quickly devolved to whose car could break apart the most.

We must have thought we were boys.

Domingo and I were in the toy isle at Target and noticed that the toy that is the basis of so many child hood memories is not the same. Gone are the generic kids with large instructional booklets in favor of very specialized kits, and they’re no longer gender neutral.

Boy legos are for building and exploring new worlds: the wild west, dinosaurs, space travel and deep ocean adventures. What could be cooler than building your space station, and then visiting the National Air and Space Museum? Or building your deep ocean explorer and seeing the sharks in the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Legos are a great learning tool in their own right, building toys promote spacial awareness, but you can build on the interests sparked by those kits for all kinds of opportunities to learn.

Girl legos are pastel. You can build beauty parlors and bakeries. Where do you go from there? Good job with the bakery, Nicki, now let’s make some cupcakes? I love to bake, and I hope my daughter enjoys baking with me as well. I also like pink, and pastels, but that doesn’t mean I want Nicki to be awash in pink things. I hope she dreams of space travel, or exploring the ocean in her own submarine one day. Why should she be regulated to little plastic figures with budding breasts, and focus her attention on beauty and food?

I don’t fault Legos for this ‘girl legos’ design, it’s a response to consumer demand. If they didn’t sell, stores would stop carrying them and manufactures would stop making them. And the good news is there is a consumer shift. Swedish toy manufacture produced a gender neutral catalog, and while there was a backlash to the catalog, Metal recently announced they’re making a Barbie construction set. Although, I’m sure it’s primary color will be pink.

In the mean time, this consumer has made a decision: Nicki will be playing with boy legos too.