On Barbies and Backtracking and Being A Big Girl

Be gentle with me on this one, ok?

So you remember the Barbie post?  (If not you might want to jump back and read it here.)  In the post I shared my thoughts about Barbie, and my personal reasons for not purchasing the dolls for my daughter.  The post sparked LOTS of healthy debate.  Some mums agreed with my concerns regarding body image, some shared that while they played with Barbies themselves as kids they don’t want them for their daughters, while others publicly declared their love for the dolls of their childhood.

We are a Barbie-free house.  Backtrack. We were a Barbie-free house.  Somehow, despite hearing nothing about Barbies at home, my daughter has still caught the Barbie bug.  First of all we had this… “Mummy, if I could only have ONE thing for Christmas, I would wish for a Barbie.”  My eyes widened while my husband stifled a chuckle.

And then there was this note from Kindy:

For the Christmas Concert, your child has chosen to dress up as: Princess Barbie. Please provide a suitable costume.

There are some times as a mother when I believe you should stand your ground.  There are also times when I think you should back down graciously.

My opinion of Barbie hasn’t changed. If I’m perfectly honest she still makes me feel a little inadequate. But for the sake of my daughter, I need to take a deep breath and be a big girl.  My issues are mine alone.  She will have enough of her own without taking mine on board as well.  So, I am graciously backing down from this one.

I bought her a Barbie t-shirt to wear in the kindy play.  (Yes, I did cringe handing it over at the checkout.)  She will dress it up with her own accessories and a home made crown.   And I’m considering her one Christmas wish.

As least this Barbie and I have something in common ;-)

Outdoor Multi-Age Play

Thanks to a recent pupil-free day, my children had the opportunity to have a play date in our backyard with a group of kids of varying ages (from 2 – 12).  I encouraged them to make cubby houses, and gave them them access to the following materials:

  • one sheet
  • string
  • scissors
  • anything already in the backyard (rocks, sticks, bamboo, etc)

It was amazing to watch the kids interact.  The boys and girls naturally split into two “teams” and worked to make two separate cubbies.

The Girls

This cubby was built mainly by a 4 year old and 12 year old who worked together, sharing ideas and workload.  They identified “areas” in their cubby such as the storage area, entrance way, living area and even a toilet area!  They decorated their cubby with strips of palm leaves lashed to fabric which hung down over the entrance.  There was even a doorbell!  All over the cubby were labels either written on pieces of cardboard or directly onto rocks.  I especially loved the rocks at the front door (pictured above) welcoming visitors to the Girls’ Cubby House – with one rock scrawled in the emergent writing of a 4yr old and the other by a 12yr old’s hand.  Precious.

The Boys

The boys were brilliant at sourcing materials from their environment.  It was their idea to cut down some bamboo to use, so I showed them how to work the large secateurs safely and then let them chop down what they needed.  It was fantastic to see their careful and intelligent use of the tools.  They stripped the leaves from the bamboo, leaving sturdy sticks which they then used for structures in and around their cubby.  They lashed together a fence to identify the boundaries of their space, and built an impressive teepee shaped entrance way.  The entrance was marked by a bamboo arrow on the ground, and a circle of rocks sourced from the creek bed.

*  *  *  *  *

I was both challenged and encouraged by the differences between the girls’ and boys’ cubby houses.  Sometimes in my desire to give equal opportunities to both boys and girls, I neglect to celebrate the unique differences between them.  Watching these kids served as an excellent reminder.  But best of all, I just loved that for TWO WHOLE HOURS, seven children between the ages of 2 and 12 worked cooperatively, creatively, intelligently, safely, and with minimal adult interference – without a “toy” in sight.

Do your kids have the opportunity to play with children of varying ages?  And have you noticed differences in the ways boys and girls play outdoors?

Sparkle and Shine

Her face is a map of the world
Is a map of the world
You can see she’s a beautiful girl
She’s a beautiful girl
And everything around her is a silver pool of light
The people who surround her feel the benefit of it
It makes you calm
She holds you captivated in her palm

(KT Tunstall – Suddenly I See)

I couldn’t go past these shoes for my daughter.  The sturdy soles make them practical, and they are completely covered in silver sequins.  They were also the grand sum of $12, and you all know I like to shop on a budget.  You should see how they sparkle when my girl walks in the sunshine!  The sequins cast little sparkling reflections on the ground, and everything around her is a silver pool of light. She looks down and smiles, and her smile makes her face sparkle too.  And of course, my sparkly girl makes me smile too.

I could use a pair of shoes like that.  (Actually, I really would love a pair if they came in my size.)  We all need a little sparkle in our lives!  What makes you shine?  What makes you feel good about yourself?  What puts a spring in your step and a smile on your face?

Being a mum is hard work, and is often far from glamorous.  I think it’s important for each of us to find what helps us to shine.  It might something as simple as a pair of shoes, or it might be something deeper and more profound.  (Think I need both myself…)  When you find what makes you sparkle, you’ll not only feel better about yourself, but the people who surround you will feel the benefit of it.

Shine on.

Hair Clip Board

You might have noticed the decrease in activity posts here at SquiggleMum this year.  Now that my daughter is a big kindy girl, her world is full of indoor and outdoor activities when she is not with me.  Her needs have changed.  What she is desperate for at home at the moment is down time!

I have missed spending special one-on-one time with her though, so on the weekend we did a girly activity together.  We had seen cute ribbon boards for hair clips at the markets, and thought we’d have a go ourselves.  To be honest I wasn’t really sure how well it would work, but I figured the process would be more important than the product anyway.

I didn’t buy a single thing for this project.  We used a piece of polystyrene from the recycling bin and trimmed it with a stanley knife as it was a little bigger than we needed.  We covered it with some fabric from the material box, pinning it at the back with dress makers pins pushed almost horizontally.  (I tried the staple gun first but that was a disaster!  Pins worked much better.)  Next we raided the ribbon box and my daughter chose colours to match.  (Ok, so I might have talked her out of bright blue and into chocolate brown…)  I cut the ribbons into lengths and let her space them out on the board.  Then I simply pulled them tight and pinned them at the back.  Super easy.  We added a little bow at the bottom to finish it off.

I was really happy with the way the board turned out.  We made it using things we had at home already and it was a lovely mother-daughter activity.  The end product is something pretty and practical, and it’s already getting lots of use!

The Barbie Debate

A few weeks back I posted a pic of the newly released Computer Engineer Barbie on my facebook fanpage, and it caused a little bit of a stir.  I decided to share some thoughts on the Barbie debate here as a couple of readers challenged me to post about it.

I must say up front that I am not a big fan of barbie dolls.  My daughter doesn’t have any, and it would take some serious convincing for me to hand over money for one.  For me, the big problem with Barbie is to do with body image.  I am not a curvaceous woman by any stretch of the imagination.  I was probably in my late teens before I realised I was waiting for curves that would never appear.  Barbie has curves in all the “right” places.  It’s really important to me to teach both my daughter and my son that a barbie-figure is not the ultimate figure.  My figure is just fine.  Ok, so there’s a bit of a jelly belly going on after having two kids, but there is nothing WRONG with my figure.  I’m not sure that having barbies around the house will reinforce that.

In Barbie’s defence, while not much has changed with her figure her career prospects have certainly improved.  I guess that’s why I posted the pic in the first place.  Who would have thought 50 years ago that Barbie would be getting her geek on?  I know, she still has an hourglass figure, unrealistically long legs and blonde hair to her cinched waist – but more brain than we’ve seen her with before.

Mattel hope geek barbie “inspires a new generation of girls to explore this important high-tech industry, which continues to grow and need future female leaders.”  I don’t know.  I kinda think that’s going to come down to the example set by real women.  Without binary code tees or bluetooth headsets.

So I guess the verdict for me is that Computer Engineer Barbie interests me enough to post her pic online, but not enough to buy her for my daughter.  What about you?  Do you think Barbie is finally becoming a more balanced babe, with a brain?  Or is she still just an idealised body shape with a few geeky (pink) accessories added?  (Or – given that she’s just a doll should I stop thinking about it so much and not project my body image issues on to her…?!)

PS – There are lots of other posts around about geek barbie.  I loved this one from Geek Dad and this one from the BBC about making Computer Engineer Barbie more realistic.

Teeny-Agers (Parenting Aus)

I’m having a bit of a rant over at Parenting Australia this week regarding fashion for young girls.  I didn’t mean to get up on my soap box, but I feel so strongly about some of the clothes that we are “supposed” to be dressing our kids in and the messages we are giving them.

When did we decide to skip childhood and fast track our babes from tots to teens? This week’s junk mail catalogues are sitting beside me as I type.  Maybe at 31 I’m getting old (??), but this is what I see.  I see pages of little girls dressed in sequins, studs and chains.  I see short shorts and short skirts.  I see leggings under some of those short garments so we can pretend they’re not as short as they really are.  I see knee high boots with leopard print leggings.  And I see slogans that range from arrogant to inappropriate.  Three year olds need clothes for cubbies, not for clubbing!

I’d love your thoughts on this topic, either here or over on the original post.  I’ve already had a lovely journalist from New Idea on the phone this morning interviewing me on the subject so it’s obviously a hot topic right now…

The Rainbow Skirt

I’ve had so many comments or emails asking about the skirt my daughter was wearing in the Mooo Giveaway photos that I thought I should just dedicate a post to the story of the rainbow skirt.

Lil_skirt

It was her first fashion lust.  We were looking for a skirt to wear with tights and boots, and I found a nice corduroy layered skirt at a good price in Myer that did the job nicely.  Of course as it was mid-winter, the new summer stock was just arriving on the shelves and she fell head over heels in love with the light weight, colourful, swishy skirt.  I understood the attraction as it was a gorgeous skirt, but she really didn’t need it and I don’t want my kids to think that they can always have something just because they like it.  Especially at full price!  (LOL)  So she reluctantly agreed to try on the sensible winter skirt instead and I talked her into it.  I also said that we could see if the other skirt came on sale some time.

From that day on, every time we went to the shops she would ask if we needed to go to Myer.  And every time she would seek out the rainbow skirt and check the tag to see if it was on sale.  She would touch the layers of fabric and I just knew she was imagining herself in the swirly colours.  Really, I could have bought it for her there and then, but I was teaching something important.  We must have checked those skirts half a dozen times, and even I was beginning to wonder if they’d sell out before they were reduced!

She had been such a good sport about waiting for her skirt that I decided I had better go and get one and put it aside for her as a present.  And wouldn’t you know it?  That very day her rainbow skirt was on the front page of the Myer catalogue, drastically reduced.  I threw the kids in the car and we went straight there.  We didn’t wander slowly in… oh no.  I pushed the stroller at light speed and dragged my toddler straight to the children’s department.  Before my daughter could even say, “Mummy please can we check to see if my skirt is on sale…?” I had one in my hot little hand.  Her jaw nearly hit the floor.

She didn’t get it immediately.  We had already made a star chart to encourage her to stay in bed til 6:30am as she had been getting up particularly early.  I don’t usually go for big rewards, but this was perfect timing.  I hung the skirt up in her room, and she had to stay in her bed til 6:30am for TEN sleeps to finish the star chart and take down her rainbow skirt.  She was so very proud of herself when she could take down her skirt, and I think she wore it for a week straight.

Lessons she learnt:

  1. Just because you like it, doesn’t mean you get it.
  2. Good things come to those who wait.
  3. It feels great to work for something and earn it.

Lessons I learnt:

  1. Practical skirt = 5 wears
  2. Rainbow skirt = 50+ wears
  3. Sometimes it’s ok to be frivolous.

PS – you’ve still got til Sunday to enter my Mooo giveaway and win a $50 voucher.  But no, the skirt is not for sale…

Slimming Season

January might as well be called Slimming Season.  Marketing campaigns for dieting companies and products go into overdrive, cashing in on our holiday guilt.  I for one feel NO guilt about enjoying special foods at Christmas or about taking the pressure off myself in the kitchen during the holidays.  This doesn’t mean my daughter is immune from the marketing messages though.  “New year, new you” type campaigns are all over the tv, and meal replacement bars and shakes are in the supermarket aisles!!

IMG_9341

This week we borrowed “Rosie – the Cow Who Wanted to Slim” from the library by Christel Desmoinaux.  What a timely book and wonderful way to combat the current media assault without making too much of a big deal about it all.  Rosie is a gorgeous cow with plump pink udders.  She makes good milk which makes good cakes and life is good.  That is, until she reads Moo Monthly and discovers she’s a little, well, heavier than the covergirls covercows.  Her highly successful slimming campaign results in a svelte figure, but at the cost of her milk. I think there’s a message in that for mums and daughters, don’t you think?

rosie_slim

If you’ve got older girls in your family, this would be an excellent book for a big sister, older cousin or young aunty to read to your daughter.  Our girls need to hear the real truth about body image, and they need to hear it more loudly and more clearly than the messages they get from the media.

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PS – if this is a topic that concerns you, check out Julie’s blog over at Beautiful You.