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Monday, November 4th, 2013
When it comes to toys, I think the gender-neutral argument is tricky. I learned in my Women’s Studies classes in college how the marketing of products towards women often reinforced negative stereotypes. Part of that I agree with. But part of that class I kind of want to call bullshit on, now that I have a boy and a girl and see what they naturally gravitate towards.
I’m not saying just because my boy likes trucks and my daughter likes to bake is proof that gender neutrality doesn’t exist. I’m just saying I think it’s hard to take a rigid stance, because kids are ultimately human beings and each of us comes into the world with natural, inherent differences. I think kids show what they are interested in from an early age, regardless of how much you try to keep their toys, surroundings, etc. “neutral.”
Having said that, I think as parents we have a lot of control on how to guide those interests. Companies market the princess crap and kitchen stuff to a heinous level for girls, and trucks and building sets to an unapologetic level for boys. It’s exciting to see Easy Bake Ovens coming out for boys and a Barbie Construction Set for girls. As many articles point out, it’s not a black and white issue. My guest blogger, Joe Depropero, wants his sons to play with dolls.
For me, I’ve noticed core differences in having a boy versus a girl. Emmett has always gravitated towards cars, trucks and more masculine things, like fire hydrants (his current obsession). Of course now Fia loves hydrants too because she likes anything he likes and vice versa–at least for the split second before they start fighting over it. When Fia was carrying around her baby doll, I got him one too because he kept taking hers. Now, at nearly 22 months, I don’t even know where his doll is.
On garbage mornings, we run out when we hear the truck. He screams in delight. If we are driving and he sees a cement mixer, he freaks out like I would if I saw Madonna. He also loves to sit quietly (up to 30 minutes) and page through his books, looking closely at each picture or trying to figure out how a toy works.
Fia was–and is– different. She honestly never cared about trucks, construction sites or hydrants. It’s not for lack of exposure. Her best friend from birth is a boy. She was exposed just as many cars and trucks. She will play with them for awhile, but she just isn’t interested in the same way. However, because she wasn’t around girls who were obsessed with princesses (thank god), so far, she hasn’t shown much interest (at least I think that’s why). Generally speaking, she’s not a girly-girl and she’s pretty content to play with whatever is in front of her.
I have a mom friend who said her 4-year old boy loves pink and purple. He also loves construction and trucks. She said most of his friends were girls. So again, I think inherent nature along with who they hang out with and what they are exposed to, is what makes the most difference.
Where parenting comes in: I wouldn’t push the princess thing on your girl or make your boy car-crazy. I think there’s a lot of danger when you push hard one way or another and I’m very wary of the marketing. Especially towards girls. I proudly posted last week how relieved I was that Fia wanted to be a pig– not a princess–for Halloween. I hope she never gets into that stuff. She is though, a born nurturer. Whether it’s with the cat or her stuffed animals, she has this maternal way about her. So why not nurture what she likes in moderation?
I guess that’s the key. Moderation and choice. What do you all think? Is there such a thing as really and truly raising gender-neutral kids? And if so, is that even right? I feel like this is sounding like a term paper so I’m signing off. Will look forward to your thoughts!
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Barbie, boys, dolls, Easy Bake Oven, fairytales, gender neutral toys, girls, girly-girl, Princess, sexist stereotypes, sterotypes, trucks, Women's Studies | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Mom Situations, Mom Tricks and Tips
Monday, October 28th, 2013
I was never into the “princess thing” growing up. That’s not to say I was a total tomboy. Just partially. I loved running free outside. My mom owned a plant store and we’d get these giant shipments of plants in huge boxes. My siblings and I would use them to make forts in the yard, begging our parents to let us sleep in them. Back then, we lived in the country on an acre of land. Now that old house is surrounded by a subdivision. Whenever I’m in State College I avoid going to it. It’s too depressing.
But back to the doll thing: Fia prefers pets to princesses, bugs over Barbies. So far, I’m breathing a big sigh of relief. I hope it stays that way. Regardless, if she goes the princess route, it won’t be because I pushed it on her. But I’m kind of hoping she doesn’t get into it. I don’t really want all that crap, err, clothes and wands all over the place. Plus the whole connotation of a princess is a damsel in distress; a girl who needs rescuing. Granted there are more modern–and positive–takes on princesses now than when I grew up (thank god) but it’s just not something I want to embrace head-on.
When it came time for Halloween, thankfully “princess” was never mentioned. Instead, she wanted to be a pig. Specifically Olivia, who does have some princess outfits. But generally speaking, Olivia is a minimalist so even her princess get-up would be cool. Fia wanted to look just like the stuffed animal version we have.
Now, I’m not saying anything is wrong with being a princess. She’s been Abby (from Sesame) and a butterfly in years past, both of which have princess elements. But what if when she gets older, I present her with an even better idea of what a girl could be? I wish I could pull these pictures and post them, but they are embedded in the link below.
Here’s the gist:
Photographer and mother Jaime Moore wanted something to find something creative and inspiring when taking pictures of her 5-year-old daughter. She searched around but only came up with things like how to be a Disney Princess. So she started thinking about what she could do on her own. Here is what she came up with.
Wait at the end to see the 6th picture…
Helen Keller and Laura Ingalls were my childhood heroes. Who were yours? Do you like the ideas from Jaime for costumes? I think when Fia is a little older and could understand what it meant, it could be really amazing to dress like women who changed the world. Who knows, maybe all our girls will change the world. Mine is a Sagittarius so she’s off to a good start.
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costumes, damsel in distress, Disney Princess, dressing up, Halloween Olivia, Helen Keller, Olivia, pig, Princess, princess connotation, Susan B Anthony | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Milestone Monday, Mom Situations, Mom Tricks and Tips, Moving to Los Angeles, Must Read
Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013
Here’s a good question: when do you stop getting in the bathtub or shower with your kids? Fia will be 4 in a couple months. Em will be 2. I find it fun to jump in with them if I need a quick wash or if they’re begging me to get in. They love it when I do because then they try and torture me like they perceive I do with them, ie: pouring water on my hair that gets into my eyes. Except I don’t cry.
We play with bubbles, they pour nice warm water down my back, and then I wash their hair at an angle that causes less agony than when I do it tub side. (Fia hates water on her face so if I can lean her up against me and tilt her head, we have less chance of getting water in her eyes than if I’m outside the tub with a cup.)
So when is the statute of limitations for this sort of thing? Granted I know some moms breastfeed their babies until they’re 6, so I’m sure the range of response to this question will be vast. For me, I’d want to err on the conservative side of this question. I wouldn’t want to traumatize my kids with the memory of, “My mom took a shower with us when we were 12.”
So generally speaking, do you stop before the age of 6? 8? Earlier? Is it different for a mom-daughter equation and a dad-boy equation than it is for mom-son and dad-daughter scenario?
Why do I feel creepy writing this? Why do I feel like I need to shower right now…by myself? Perhaps it’s because I simply can’t imagine them growing up past this perfect and innocent stage and going through puberty. Or wanting privacy. It all seems so foreign. Right now they are my babies and none of this “age-appropriate” stuff comes into play. But it will. So I’m asking….
Plus: Are you an attachment parent or positive parent? Then, check out our free growth charts to see if your toddler or preschooler is on the right track.
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Wednesday, October 9th, 2013
I’m a picker. For anyone who is as well, you know what I’m talking about. I get great pleasure out of squeezing pus from places on any human body. Once, I begged Phil to let me do this on a sebaceous cyst he had on his shoulder. He was horrified. I was obsessed. So when he was sleeping I tried to sneak a pick. His sat up in bed confused. I was above him with my pimple popper, like a murderer with a kitchen knife.
“What the F-ck is wrong with you?” he screamed.
I lowered down my tool and told him I just needed to see if I could get anything out of it.
He felt violated. I felt disappointed.
I told him he either needed to get it professionally removed or let me have at it. He went to the doctor next day and scheduled an appointment with a scalpel. For the few days until he had it removed he eyed me with the wariness of a psychopath.
For non-pickers, this is a disgusting, gross, deplorable habit–something that is as obsessive and wrong as the Tea Party’s lame attempt to stop poor people from getting health coverage.
But my picking pleasure has to be reigned in when it comes to my kids. Toddlers won’t tolerate pimple popper tools or pain. And I don’t want to induce pain on them. However….
Fia has had what appears to be an ingrown hair or deep pimple on her face. It started out tiny. You can see it here on her right cheek (your left as you look at screen). But it never really came to a head. It just appeared one day and sat. And sat. And sat. For 4 months. Staying small. In a huge exercise in restraint, I didn’t touch it except to brush my finger over to see if there was actually a bump. There was.
Then, a week before school started it started to look red and inflamed. It looked like it was getting bigger with a small white head. I was gleeful. Finally, the pimple is ready to come out and be crushed by me! I sat her down and said, “Mama wants to try something on your cheek.” I then went in with the popper loop and pressed. Nothing came out of her cheek. But a wail came out of her mouth.
“Mama, that hurt,” she cried.
So of course I immediately stopped and put some Neosporin on. Then I called the doctor. The redness worried me.
An hour later we were at the pediatrician. He poked and prodded far more than my one attempt, which helped to assuage my guilt over needling. He also couldn’t figure out what it could be. But the red inflammation worried him too. I felt silly for calling about it but he assured me that it was good that I did. He said when stuff like this gets infected, it can sometimes lead to staph. He put her on a 10-day antibiotic treatment and referred us to a dermatologist. He said a specialist should look at anything that has sat on her face that long.
I was most concerned about the infection, but secondary was my want and need to get it off her face. Not because of vanity–it’s actually in a spot that could be a beauty mark, if a beauty mark was red. But you just don’t want something on your kid’s face that shouldn’t be there. Plus, as a picker it’s hard to keep your hands to yourself.
This week was our dermatologist appointment. I was anxious for resolution. The doctor looked at it closely and said it’s either a cyst, which would have to be cut out by a plastic surgeon (whaattt???) or a deep pimple that she could try and prick. Neither were great options. She reassured me over and over that if it were a cyst, it was absolutely benign. Still, I had a friend with something very similar on her face. She got it removed, also with reassurance it was nothing, but they biopsied it as standard procedure. Turns out it was pre-cancerous. So how do you REALLY know?
Then the doctor suggested a cortisone shot instead. She said it takes 2 seconds to get it in her cheek, it’s a small needle so just a tiny prick (less than the pimple prick device) and if it is a pimple then the cortisone would break it down and hopefully make it disappear. If it’s not, then we will know it’s a cyst.
I thought this sounded like a good option to at least try. Fia is pretty good with shots, though she’s never had one on her face.
I gave her a lollipop and told her there was going to be a small prick. In retrospect we should have had a nurse in there holding her head with me. As soon as the prick went in, she cried and turned her head, causing the needle to slice her face.
Now when I say “slice” it was less than anything Wayne Sanchez has done to her. It was a super small cut, but it did draw blood and tears and, of course, the cortisone didn’t go in.
We called the whole thing off.
I felt terrible and responsible since I had told the doctor to give it a try. But a few friends I’ve told have said, “Why was there no nurse in there holding her head to begin with?” I’m not trying to place blame, but it is a little weird right? She called the nurse in after it happened and said she could hold Fia’s head. But by then it was full on wailing and unless we put her in a straight jacket there was no way anything else was happening.
My pediatricians referred me to this practice, but I’m wondering how much they actually deal with small kids? I often see elderly people and adults in the waiting room. I’ll give Fia’s face a few more weeks, but then I think I should go to a practice that deals specifically with kids. Right?
In the meantime, I will try and embrace the bump, not fret over the “what-ifs” and perhaps find myself a good PA meeting. Pickers Anonymous. Sigh.
Photo of pimple cartoon via Shutterstock
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Saturday, October 5th, 2013
Okay, I’m biased because we’re talking about my best friend, Suzy. But I’m not the only one who thinks her stuff rocks. Apparently Parents does too. So here is a quick shout-out for her “Box World Adventures” which was chosen by FamilyFun magazine as one of the “Most Creative Toys and Games of 2013.”
Suzy and I met in 9th grade and have been through so much together over the years. She has been a single mom of 2 boys for the past 5 years, trying to build up her career and make a living as an illustrator. She has made extraordinary strides in the marketplace–from Christmas ornaments in Crate and Barrel to a Shrinky Dink Craft Kit and Needlepoint Fun at Land of Nod. To name a few.
Check out her entire collection at Etsy and all of her product line from Chronicle.
Holidays are just around the corner!
Love you, girl!
Here are some of the “worlds” you can create from her Box World Kit. A cereal box becomes a jaunty British Double Decker bus, while a milk carton makes a perfect pagoda…you get the idea.
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Box World Adventure, Chronicle Books, Crate and Barrel, holiday gifts, holiday ornaments, illustrator, illustrator award, Land of Nod, single mom, Suzanne Ultman, Suzy Ultman | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Mom Situations, Mom Tricks and Tips