Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Squirt Guns and Barbie Dolls

Most new parents want to do everything right. When my daughter was born, I fed her only organic food, used cloth diapers, practiced baby signs, took her to infant swim lessons and purchased toy trucks for her, along with the dolls. My mother-in-law was quick to point out that I would eventually make a mistake, but I did not hear her. Oh, I was certain I would make mistakes in life but, with my daughter, not a chance. She would not be eating McDonald's, playing with Barbie dolls or toy weapons. Not even a squirt gun.
The cloth diapers lasted less than one month. They were a nightmare, even with a diaper service cleaning and delivering them. The swim lessons lasted even less, as my daughter screamed every time we entered the pool. We still eat organic, though only partially now. McDonald's entered our lives in the way most fast-food joints become part of our existence. After a long day of fieldtrip driving, music class and Color Me Mine. Our hunger was up, our defenses were down, we were 45 minutes from home and a good hour until dinner. I passed the first MickeyD's with no reservation but when I saw the second set of golden arches approaching and heard my daughter pronounce, "I've never been this hungry," I knew it was time for her first chicken nugget. As a vegetarian since birth, this was her first taste of chicken and it remains the only meat she will eat to this day.
When my daughter was six, she received a Bratz doll from her good friend at a birthday party. "Please, mommy can I keep her," she pleaded. I felt like Mommie Dearest in that scene where she allows Christina to keep only two of her birthday gifts and caved. We took her out of the box together and my daughter was interested in everything about her from her lip-lined mouth to the stilletos that clipped on. I, however, was intrigued and shocked, frankly, at her thong panties and seized an opportunity for discussion. "Where do you think she's going today in this outfit? Do you think she's going to work," I asked. "No, mommy, she's going to Dave and Buster's with her mom and dad to play the horse racing game." A six year old answer and one I was glad to hear. I realized that the little mistakes in life, such as the unrealistic proportions of a Barbie doll, give us opportunities to share thoughts and help our children grow into wise people. A few weeks later, during a heatwave, we went to Target to purchase a squirt gun. We also picked up a Barbie.

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