If you have read any of the previous Sonja updates, you may remember that keeping her clothed through the winter was a real challenge. She wanted to be naked, so that she could see her tummy and her toes, and she was as insistent on this point as a two-year-old can be. To the uninitiated, that is very insistent. Realizing it was not a fight I could win, or at least a battle I could lose without doing too much damage, I turned up the heat a few notches (not that that bothered my popsicle toes any) and let her strip. I figured that by summer, when the weather was appropriate for running around topless, she’d be over the naked phase.
It is now spring and if you live in the Pacific Northwest, you know that the weather likes to tease us by throwing us a couple of hot days, making us think summer is just around the corner, then raining for two more months. Still, I used those few warm spring days to break out Sonja’s summer wardrobe. (She will still fit in much of the same stuff she wore last year, plus I have a gaggle of hand-me-downs.) As I was digging through her closet, she saw what she called “pretty clothes,” that she just had to wear right then.
I would not say we are out of the naked phase yet. Any time an item of clothing she is wearing gets a droplet of water on it, she insists on putting it in the washing machine, and will not get dressed again. However, she gets excited to wear her summer skirts and dresses, and this – among other things – makes me realize that despite all the railing against princess culture and the “pink aisles,” I am raising a very girly-girl.
I see less harm than I thought I would in my daughter putting on a skirt and twirling around, mostly because it’s her idea and she has so much fun doing it. She also likes to paint, build with blocks and bake with Mama, so there’s plenty of variety, but the specificity with which she chooses clothes surprises me. She’s not always interested in wearing clothes but when she is, she knows what she wants, and she nearly always refers to the skirt or shirt or shorts she has in mind as “pretty.” She steadfastly refuses to wear jeans anymore, and I think that’s because she for most of her life has had to wear leggings out of necessity – jeans just won’t stay put around her tiny waist. But the skirts which she has decided she loves so much have alleviated so much hassle on my part. She can wear a much smaller size – most of the ones hanging in her closet now are 12 months, and they fit her waist and are not too short. We can get away with much smaller sized shorts too. So all in all, summer is going to make things much easier for us.
I have to wonder if I missed the boat somewhere. If I let down my guard and allowed the culture to wash over me without applying enough critical thought. But you know, raising a two-year-old is exhausting. And she has an enormous vocabulary and excellent diction and as a literary person myself, I value these things. I’m sure that when she is capable of applying more critical thought to these subjects, we can have more in-depth discussions of gender, femininity and representations of women in the media. In the meantime, let’s put on a tutu and some dancing shoes, have a tea party and watch those puppets singing All Together Now again.