11 July 2012

Raising a Girl In Style OR Happy Birthday to The Bean

This is not a mommy blog. This is not a stylish mommy blog. I know it probably feels like it sometimes, and I thank you for your indulgence when it leans that way. I'm also going to ask you for another indulgence. You see, today is The Bean's 5th Birthday. It feels like a huge milestone to this sappy mama. I simply cannot believe that The Bean who threatened to arrive on July 10, 2007, and arrived on July 11, 2007 (yes, she's a craps baby) is Five Years Old. She is my love, and she is my life. And I think a lot about how we're raising her.

I’ve made no bones about taking my 4 year old daughter (aka The Bean) to New York City to see the Daphne Guinness exhibit at FIT.

I’ve made no bones about how proud I am that she walked 5th Avenue from The Plaza to Rockefeller Center in Christmas crowds, taking the focus off the Christmas windows and onto her as she snapped photographs of each and every window.

I’ve made no bones about sharing that I woke her up at 4 in the morning for “Princess Kate’s wedding.” It was once in a lifetime, you know.

I’ve made no bones about sharing her developing style, showing her Bill Cunningham New York, and taking her to do things like meet Stacy London.
Reading the "jacket notes" from the Bill Cunningham New York DVD

I’ve made no bones about our upcoming trip to see Impossible Conversations at The Met. She is an Elsa, after all.

And yet, I wonder if I’m imposing my own preferences and a distorted sense of how important fashion and style are in life. I read pieces like dwell’s “Girl Talk,” which questions - and begrudgingly comes to terms with - the concept of pink Legos and Architecture Barbie in high-heeled work boots.
dwell July/August 2012

I have some of the same thoughts, and often try to steer The Bean towards the primary colored bike.

We have the Barbie bike.
The Barbie Bike (and Disney Princess helmet) in action

So then I stop and I pay attention. Since she was 2 and Santa Claus brought her an easel and paints for Christmas, she’s been content to create for hours on end. She used to rise early, come say good morning to us, and ask, “Can I go draw?” At our affirmative, she’d run out to the living room, where her easel has a prime, well-lit spot in front of our big window, and get to work.

From easel work to her own packing list for Down Tha Shore

She picks her own clothes most mornings. She has preferences. She tends towards the sparkly, and she tends towards the pink. We tend not to buy that for her (if we even ever have to buy anything, we get so many hand-me-downs and gifts), but others do, and she loves it.
She accessorizes like a champ

She also loves the Darth Vader PJs that match her little brother’s and the blue Tom & Jerry Tshirt. She picked them both out herself at Old Navy. She will get dirty. She will cook. She will run. She wants to play soccer, and swim, and learn.
Her newest addiction? Fishing. She can scoop those live minnows out of the bait bucket without batting an eyelash. I, on the other hand, cannot.

As I type, she’s playing on my Nook. So far, she’s done addition, subtraction, the alphabet, and spelling. She just figured out that she can also use the app for practicing writing your letters to do “scribble scrabble,” or “abstract art.” She’s joyfully learning, as 5 year old sponges will.
A fort and a new workbook make a sick Bean feel better.

I don’t know what she’ll be when she grows up. I try not to have any hopes for her, lest they steer her in one way or another. Those hopes, even those our children perceive we have for them, can feel pushy to them.

So I’ll expose her to everything I can under the sun. I’m sure I’ll expose her to more Things That I Like. I happen to think those things important. Art, theater, books, creativity. I also happen to think exercise, math, and science are important. So I have to push myself sometimes, and pick things for her to expand, and let her be joyful in her addition and subtraction. I’ll sign her up for soccer camp, art camp, and music camp. Her natural tendencies to create, to run, to be quiet, to rock out, and to be independent will all develop.

And then I’ll book the hotel for New York. Elsa and Miuccia, here we come.

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