So, I have some weird hang-ups about Disney, “princess culture,” the sexualization of girls and the general over-gendering that American childhood culture does to to kids, even really young kids. And for 3.5 years, that was a pretty easy path to walk — Daddy-o and I have tight control over the media Boopsie is exposed to, and we haven’t introduced Barbies or Disney Princesses or any TV with commercials.
However, since we decided to take Boopsie to her first movie, and it was Frozen, which has been crazily successful for Disney, this has been challenged. Case in point: Yesterday I took Boopsie to our nearby Target. We needed a few first aid supplies and she wanted to pick out some Band-Aids, so she picked out the Disney Princess variety. This was a first and it was a little unsettling, but I just let it ride.
Later, we were hitting up the baby/toddler section and she spotted character undies featuring the characters from Frozen. And I let myself be talked into buying them despite serious misgivings. First of all, I dislike how aggressively every movie tie-in is marketed to kids. Secondly, she didn’t even really need undies. Finally, I feel like I’m standing on the edge of a damn slippery slope. Yes, Frozen has a lot of good messages about sisterhood and being brave and strong, but it’s still a Disney movie and there’s still some weird sexuality stuff happening with Elsa. But I folded, and quickly, and you know what? My kid is overjoyed about those undies. She told the cashier. She told friends we saw for dinner. She changed them this morning and came bursting out of her room to show Daddy-o and I the “Olaf” pair she had put on. She. Loves. Those. Undies.
The Disney juggernaut, and their product tie-ins, have brought her JOY. I’m still mixed about the whole Frozen craze, and Disney and I definitely am not a fan of the other “princesses.” But with this experience, I’m going to try and walk this line, and to help her enjoy some aspects of what this part of our culture has to offer.
Once again, it’s likely I’m putting way too much thought into this. But my goodness, she is adorable when she’s talking about those undies…
Every once in a while, I’ll be cruising along when I’m suddenly struck by a realization: I am not a “normal” parent. Now before anyone goes all psycho-babble on me, I realize that there are huge ranges of “normal” and I’m not worried about being “normal”… I basically just have some funny hang-ups.
Case in point: After lots of hemming and hawing (mostly on my part) Daddy-o and I decided to take Boopsie to see her first movie in the theater. Despite my many, many misgivings about the Disney marketing juggernaut and Disney princesses, we decided to climb on the bandwagon and go see Frozen at the cool second-run theater near our house.
As the movie started, a Disney logo appeared on the screen:
Boopsie saw it and asked, “What is that?”
Now, any normal parent would say “A castle,” or perhaps even, “Cinderella’s castle.”
Not me. My response? “That’s a logo, honey. A company called Disney made this movie and their logo is a castle.”
Branding education for a three-year-old? Really? Oh my. File that one under “quirky mom.”
This weekend Daddy-o had to work all weekend. And I mean all weekend. And there was a nasty snowstorm and the roads were in bad shape. (All contributing to the long winter of my discontent.) As a result, Boopsie and I had three days of intense, home-bound togetherness. Yesterday, I seized on a moment when she was reading aloud to her stuffed animals in her room to write for a few minutes.
After seven minutes (yes, I counted) she found me on the living room couch. She quickly joined me, in a purple hooded fleece jacket, pink ladybug-print pants and pink and white striped socks, setting up across from me to do her own “work.” I was taken aback by her working by me and loved watching her “write.”
For the first time in a long time, in those moments across from her on the couch, I felt like a successful mom. Like I was showing her a path worth taking. For the first time in weeks, weeks that have been filled with battles and tears and struggle, I was totally at peace with my parenting.
I took a moment to breathe it in… and then I snapped a few good photos:
“Working” on the couch
Here’s to the power of the pen. (And the crayons.)
Wow. I was supposed to write this post more than two months ago. In fact, I even drafted it. It was going to be about how we sent a couple of “prep notes” from the paci fairy, and how Boopsie helped pack up all the pacifiers into a plastic bag, and how she helped me set them in the yard. And how she cried some at that bedtime, but slept all night and went on to get over it really quickly.
But then something happened. On the day after I posted Pacifier Fairy Part One, all hell broke loose with our kid. What do I mean by all hell breaking loose? Well, let’s see:
- She went on a sleep strike… bedtime became a multi-hour battle, naps were treacherous
- She started having epic, violent tantrums including throwing things, hitting and kicking
- Her personality changed into one I didn’t really recognize. Boopsie became much more anxious, whiny and angry.
I’m not sure how to convey the impact this had on our family, in part because we are still trying to find our way out. Our attempts to find our way out have included:
- Scouring the interwebs
- Hiring a parent coach
- Positive reinforcement
- Negative reinforcement
- Putting a lock on the outside of her door
- Multiple trips to the pediatrician
- Reading books… lots of books (more on those to come)
We’re still trying to figure out if we’re somewhere on the continuum of “normal” or if there’s something else going on with Boopsie that we need to address. But that’s what’s been happening in the silence — stress, fear, anger, exhaustion and worry. So much worry. Thankfully, there’s been joy, too, and fun. And I think (and hope and pray) that we’re getting back somewhere more familiar.
All that to say… hello, strangers. More soon.
It’s been approximately 8,000 degrees here (with the heat index) for many days, so we’ve been doing a lot of hiding inside so our faces don’t melt off. The other evening, Boopsie wanted to watch a video and I kept suggesting alternative activities:
“Do you want me to read to you?”
“Do you want to make a necklace?”
“Do you want to paint?”
What little kid doesn’t like painting, right? It’s awesome. It’s also messy and I get freaked out by messes (among a few other things). I strapped on her smock, handed over some brushes and paints doled out in an old ice cube tray and she went to town. For more than 45 minutes. To a three-year-old, that’s like six hours.
Much to my chagrin, the brushes quickly became useless, as Boopsie dove in to her chosen (at least for that 45 minutes) art form. Much to my delight, she gave a running commentary while she was painting, and I grabbed a pen and wrote some of it down. (Hellz to the yeah!)
“I’m painting something for Daddy to see. It’s beautiful and wonderful. It’s a rainbooooooow. I’m making it for Daddy. I’m making a road so he can get through. Look at this it’s a whole bunch of roads!”
“Look at the silly water! The peacock is swimming in the water… now he’s sticking his head out. Now he’s swimming.”
So, despite the mess, it was a pretty rad way to spend 45 minutes. Even if it was a huge mess. (I think there’s still paint under her fingernails…)
We just returned from our second camping trip with friends. We went last year at this time, and repeated the trip (to a new location). We came home dirty and tired, and we had a ton of fun getting that way. In our two little excursions, I’ve picked up on a few things that I found really helpful:
Bring friends. We went with another couple who have two boys (5 and 3), and the kids were built-in entertainment for each other. Plus, it was triple cuteness watching them all learn and experience the outdoors.
Swimming was the closest Boopsie got to a bath during our three-night, four-day adventure. Bring lots of baby wipes. LOTS.
Explore with them. I’m trying to unlearn my heebie jeebies about things like frogs and bugs. Fake it ’till you make it, right?
If your kid is an inexperienced hiker, bring your Ergo carrier. I carried Boopsie about 2 miles over two days. Sheesh. Look at how long her legs are!
Other helpful things:
- Bring a bunch of plastic bags (like the ones from Target) to use as garbage bags around each major meal prep. A clean campsite will keep you from experiencing nighttime marauders. (aka raccoons)
- What is it with kids and those squeezie pouches of fruit? It’s the new kiddie crack. Anyway, this is the perfect application, so stock up.
- Bug spray. Sunscreen. Repeat.
Not going to lie… it’s a lot of work, especially in a tent (which we did last year). But it’s so. damn. worth it.
Filed under adventures, Fun
Tonight Boopsie took a pair of undies from her drawer and said, “My going to wear these in the bath.”
I (stupidly) said, “You don’t wear undies in the bath!”
She said, “Monkey going to wear them,” and ran off to find her stuffed monkey. I called her to come take a bath a couple of minutes later and she asked me if she could bring the undies in the bath. I said she could bring them in the bathROOM. She ran in and threw the undies in the full bathtub.
This may not sound like progress to you, but to me it was a small miracle that she had any interest in the undies. (In retrospect, why didn’t i let her hang out in them for a while?!? So. Dumb.) This kid knows when she has to go to the bathroom. Tonight after dinner she asked me to let her out of her booster seat so she could poo. She’s aware, she just doesn’t care.
This is our fault: in November and December Boopsie was totally into going potty and earning miniature plastic animals as her rewards. She seriously earned about 50 over the course of about 5-6 weeks. But Daddy-o and I were unprepared and “too busy” to stay home for a few days and strike while the iron was hot to do the full-on “potty learning.”
So here we are, three months later and she’s completely over the potty. Tonight when she announced her attention to poo I offered her a stuffed animal if she went on the potty… No interest. So the fact that she was interested in her undies at all gives me a small hope that she’ll come around… Wish us luck. As I’ve noted before the will is strong with this one… Nothing will happen until she wants it to. Now I just have to figure out how to make it her idea…
Here’s hoping for more panty progress!! (And let’s not forget the oft-said parenting tidbit…”No one goes to kindergarten with out being potty trainer. It will happen.”)