Sunday, October 19, 2008

Lip gloss, best friends and my mixed feelings

I've reached a point in my child's short educational life that I thought would come a lot later: I'm a little concerned about the influence of another kid on her.

I really thought that would come later than Junior Kindergarten. At this point, I assumed they would pretty much all be the same and Emily wouldn't be absorbing too much from the other kids, mainly because they have so little time to talk about things outside the classroom.

I'm so naive.

On Thursday, Emily wore her new blue rain boots to school since the ground was pretty wet from rain earlier in the day. At the end of the day she piped up out of the blue "N realized my boots are boy boots." I said "You're boots aren't boy boots, Emily. Anyone can wear blue. I'm wearing a blue sweater. Hope wears blue all the time and we aren't boys." Emily's response was perfect "I'm going to tell N she's wrong."

N, by the way, is, from what I can tell, Emily's current closest friend in her class. N is in the Senior Kindergarten half of the class and from what Emily says, they play together all the time. N sends home princess pictures every day with Emily that N coloured for her the night before (rather cute, I know). Emily doesn't really feel like colouring pictures for N. I asked. Ooh, bitch slapped.

Anyway, on Friday, Emily walked in the house and said "I have makeup on!" And you know what, she did. Lip gloss anyway. Sparkly, shiny lip gloss. That's more make up than I wear 95% of the time. I said "Wow, you do. Where did you get that?" "N gave it to me." I went into my makeup-is-for-grownups speil. John kept giving me the eye to ensure I didn't put N in a bad light but I admit it was hard not to say STAY AWAY FROM N.

I know that seems like an over-reaction but something is just rubbing me the wrong way and here is what I've come up with: N is clearly into girly things, things Emily has so far mostly stayed away from and that is something, I realize now, that makes Emily so extra special for me (aside from the obvious fact that she's my daughter). I love that Emily doesn't show much attention to princesses, makeup, fancy dresses (although she does love dresses), fancy hair dos, etc etc etc. I'm not saying she has no interest in these things. She has a little. But only a little. She is much more interested in running around outside, playing store, helping cook and bake, doing crafts, playing soccer or golf, collecting leaves, reading books. You get the idea. However, she is also susceptible to influence and if her current friend is into something, she'll want to get into it too, at least to a point.

In the end, John and I told her it isn't healthy to share lip gloss with another person because of germs. She got that. I also told her I'd get her some of her own. I found some Burt's Bees Lip Balm that goes on clear but looks pink in the tube because of the pomegranate that's in there. The perfect dupe. She LOVES it. However, I've demanded that she stops calling it her makeup and refers to it as lip balm. So far she is complying.

My real uneasiness is coming from the fact that N is swinging my daughter, my amazingly insteresting and cool daughter into things that I personally find less interesting and less cool. That's personal preference, I know. And I also know I'm trying to influence her to my way of seeing the world and I see the irony there. But damn it, I'm her mother and that's my right after 20-odd hours of labour, isn't it?

Of course, I also realize that trying to make her think that her mum's views are cool and interesting is probably a mistake because that won't work for long. It won't be long until she's thinking I'm a middle-aged loser who doesn't know what she's talking about. So, I don't want to be pushy about all this. I just want her to come up with the realization that these kinds of things like princesses, clothes and makeup don't matter in the big picture. There are way more interesting things to spend your time doing, playing and reading about.

Man, I really never thought I'd be struggling with these weird feelings 6 weeks into JK.

Am I crazy? Should I just let it play out and not worry about it? I haven't said any of this to Emily of course and won't. But I'm struggling with it a bit and wanted to hear what you all thought.

Am I over-reacting? Probably. When I read back over the post, it sure sounds like I am but at the same time outside influences are probably the things we worry about most when it comes to putting our kids in school. How do you or will you deal with it?

Edited to add: Okay, I've taken a breath, talked to my good friend, Shan, and realized what I knew before: this is not a big deal and I need to chill out. There are far worse things she could be doing or being exposed to. I'm not normally prone to insanity about things that are fairly insignificant but hey, every mother gets her chance. Today was mine.


michelle of bleeding espresso said...

OK, I'm not a mom, but I have to say that when I started seeing my niece into all the princess-y stuff, it freaked me out; it really wasn't due to outside influence, though. She was just into that stuff. I think (again, I have no kids) that kids find their own grooves for better or worse, and yes, as Shan basically said, there are a lot worse things she could be getting into other than lip balm (I *love* telling her that it's lip balm and not "make-up"!).

IMHO, you're a great mom precisely because you *are* so concerned about things like this :)

Karen said...

Thanks, Michelle. That helps. I just hope my concerns don't drive her into early therapy! :)

Now I just have to find other tricks like the lip balm one for the interests that I can't comply with. I'm going to try to relax though and let her go with it as much as I can.

Karen said...

Oh, and happy birthday yesterday!

little b said...

I'm sure I would have a very similar reaction. I'm sure I'll be calling you in a few years freaked out about the same stuff.

Jen said...

My advice, having been there (and the influence does wane, although it is very much a part of child development -- gender identification that is) is to emphasize creativity and not beauty. Its great to fantasize and play with make-up and invent new ways to play. But it isn't about marrying boys, being pretty, and the rest. I also like to throw in to the mix the fact that many boys also like to play with make-up. Ah, memories of the 80s, rock on!

The main thing is she'll get her primary sense of self from the women in her immediate surroundings. If that is Beth and you, then you have nothing to fear.

Julie said...

My first reaction was, oh boy, K's gone off the deep end on this one. Then I sat there and thought about how I would react in a similar situation and realised that I am already there, but in the future. What I mean is, I am already worried about the kids that Max could potentially be hanging out with when he is older, if we stay in our neighbourhood.

We will all have battles that we pick and sooner or later we will realise that some of them we will just have to lose gracefully and try and guide our kids in other manners. Jenn's right, with a mom and aunt like you and Beth, Em and Hope have two of the best female role models out there.

Shelby said...

While reading this is sound like you were being an over dramatic parent. My mother is strict, I'm not saying that I know exactly what I'm talking about but FORCING upon your daughter to call freaking chapstick, LIPBALM? Seriously, worst parent of the year award right here.