My 3-year-old daughter, Mary Elena, became a prima ballerina about six months ago -- at least in her own mind.
She insists on dressing in tutus and leotards every day, performs plies at the grocery store, and gets upset when unsuspecting strangers say, "Oh, honey, you look just like a beautiful ballerina." (Her chilly, stock answer: "I am a ballerina.") She spends her days thumbing through The Nutcracker picture books and watching Angelina Ballerina DVDs; it's a full-time obsession.
I know I'm not alone. Many kids (though, granted, not all) go through a similar phase, whether the object of desire is ballet, Batman, or Barbie. "It's extremely normal," says Michele Borba, EdD, author of 12 Simple Secrets Real Moms Know (Jossey-Bass). "These are actually some of your child's most creative moments, and you should enjoy and encourage them."