31 Jan
2014
Posted in: parenting
By    Comments Off on Raising Rapunzel

Raising Rapunzel

Our first three children are boys. When I was pregnant with our fourth, everyone assumed we just desperately wanted a girl. When I would tell people we were going to have a daughter, I was met with “finally,” “you must be so relieved,” and “oh, thank goodness.” It was as if there was something wrong with the potential of four boys, like I should feel less complete if I were to never have a daughter. I didn’t feel that way. I assumed I would have a fourth son and was truly disbelieving until the moment she arrived.

I had no intention of putting her in frilly dresses, bows everyday or dance class. I’m not overly girlie. I don’t wear much makeup, don’t keep up on fashion trends, own mostly practical shoes and can’t handle more than a hairdryer and a hair straightener. I assumed our daughter would be mostly a tomboy with me as her mother and three big brothers who reek of testosterone. She has been my greatest lesson in the meaning of nature vs. nurture.

Barrettes in hair

Our four-year-old is a stereotypical girl. She loves pink, purple, glitter and sequins. She wants her brown hair to be long enough to throw out a tower window for a prince. She’ll spend large chunks of time, painstakingly placing barrettes and bows in her hair. She makes up songs and mothers anything and everything she can find from breathing people to stuffed animals to her beloved babies. She doesn’t mind getting dirty, jumps at the chance to be outside and drops everything if her brothers include her in a Nerf gun war or a Star Wars reenactment.

Ballet first position

Our boys run through the house relentlessly pounding on the stairs and floor, much to this mama’s protests. Our daughter prances, twirls and leaps her way from place to place. She dreams of earning pointe shoes in ballet and practices at home what she does in class. She can’t imagine wearing the same outfit all day. She flits from princess to ballerina to teacher with the occasional knight or pirate thrown in if she’s managed to convince a brother to play dress-up. Her favorite ensemble is the princess ballerina. She has memorized songs from Disney’s Frozen and requests various braids in her hair to mimic the Frozen characters Elsa and Anna.

Curlers in hair

She talks as if she’ll explode if not given the chance to say what she’s thinking. Most meals are a seated filibuster at our house. She is passionate to her core and wants to tell you everything she feels, thinks and dreams or how someone (namely a brother) has wronged her in some way. We’ve said numerous times, “Don’t talk to your sister until she actually eats something.” While we drive around town, I listen to her chat until she pauses to ask if I’m still listening. Sometimes she’ll question me to ensure I’m paying attention. Our boys aren’t rambling talkers. They say what’s on their minds in a precise fashion and don’t add a lot of details. No need to even ask their sister how her day was or what she did. She’ll tell you…promise.

I’m exhausted most days when my husband and boys come home. I just want someone else to be the listener for just 30 minutes. I adore her unbridled enthusiasm and energy. It’s one aspect of her personality I pray for her to hold on to. I want to teach her how to contain it and not be overwhelming to her audience without dosing the flames completely.

A mom at preschool asked me why I made my little girl be so girlie. That’s the thing. I didn’t make her be anything. I actually attempted to withhold shoes and clothing I thought was too girlie. What a mistake on my part. She loves dresses, having her nails painted, matching her shoes to her outfit, taking care of babies and carrying a purse. She’s a girl in every imaginable stereotype. It seems it’s fine for boys to be stereotypically boy while if a girl lives the stereotype, her parents are seen as somehow dooming her future. My answer to the aforementioned mom, “She is who she was made to be.”

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