I had a coupon to Gymboree, so yesterday the girls and I went to do a little post-Back-To-School shopping. Both girls grew about a foot over the summer, and Bunny especially needed new pants and jeans. She's eight and has a strong, athletic frame (future volleyball player, perhaps?) and long, long legs so she wears a size 12 pant. Yes, they're slightly loose in the waist and about 3 inches too long, but they fit her hips and thighs and she likes to have room move.
As we were trying on clothes, the sales lady pulled me aside, nodded towards Bunny, and said, "I think it's really great that you can still get her to shop here. We have moms who love our clothes but say they have to cut the tags out." Meanwhile, Bunny and Wallie were squealing over the t-shirts adorned with puffy doggies and furry kitties and deciding which ones they wanted.
On Back-To-School Night, I wanted to stand up and cheer when the third graders teachers stood up as a united front and told us parents that it was our job to protect our kids from unnecessary and age-inappropriate (media especially) influences. Yes, our third-graders are on the the cusp of being "upperclassmen" at our elementary school, and, therefore, "big," but they are still so little, they reminded us. They still love to snuggle, they love pretend-play, they get frustrated and cry. To me, eight-years-old is not big. Six-years-old is even less big. I felt very confident that Bunny was going to be in good hands this year.
Protecting kids' hearts, souls, and minds has been a minor theme here on CityMama, perhaps more recently so, since J. and I find it increasingly more difficult to steer Bunny and Wallie away from movies, songs, and TV shows that we don't think they should be watching...yet, and towards the media and activities they should be enjoying. They know all the reasons why they can't see the Diary of a Wimpy Kid movie or watch cable TV shows geared towards tweens. It frustrates them for a split-second until we remind them of our jobs as parents, a mantra they've been hearing since they were born.
It's not that they are completely sheltered. We love watching Project:Runway together, because it is so inspiring on so many levels. The designers often toss around words like "ass" and "bitch." The girls LOVE to scream, "He said a bad word! He said ASS!" just to check my reaction, and what do I do? I laugh and say, in my pretend stern voice, "Hey, not appropriate," —they know why—and the moment is over.
They also like to watch Wipeout because they are used to watching the Japanese and Korean versions of the show (on which Wipeout is based) with their grandma. I suppose an argument could be made that it's too violent because people get knocked around and tossed into the water. I get that. The girls, however, focus on the competition: how do contestants solve the problem? How would they do it? And, of course, they always show that no one is really getting injured. At least not in that carefully edited moment.
I know of no two other girls who can sit an watch an entire football game with their papa—also arguably violent—but I admit, I don't want to take away the three hours they spend perched on J. knees or tucked under his arm riddling him with questions about downs, flags, and points.
So we all make our choices. For us, we'd rather our girls watch a football game than to watch movies or shows that focus on kids being disrepectful to their parents or to each other, that stereotype girls as romance-obsessed dolts, that contain sexual situations*, or just plain deal with situations that our kids aren't yet ready to address.
They still love watching Angelina Ballerina and playing with their Calico Critters (a toy I ADORE), and that is perfectly fine with us.
As I gathered together Bunny's jeans and pink-bow-adorned shirts, I lamented the fact that this was probably the last year we'd be able to shop for her at Gymboree. I think she knew it, too, and spent much of her time picking and showing me baby clothes "for the Bundle." Onesies with lambs, tiny socks, hats that looked like teddy bears.
It wasn't so long ago that I was buying all those sweet, soft those things for her, and that is why—that is exactly the reason why—I parent like I do.
Note: Both Bunny and Wallie know exactly how babies are made and Bunny has seen video of a live birth in the context of an AMAZING age-appropriate, 10-week-long body awareness program.