Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008
The Beautiful Ladies of Costco are Cramping My Parenting Style
Here are three brief encounters involving toddler concepts of beauty…
This time last year I sang Costco’s praises for their exit door employees who routinely assist my daughter’s breastfeeding efforts. They still do.
Now those same employees are raising parenting issues we had blissfully avoided with our 3.5-year-old daughter.
This past weekend she was busy tracing letters and words in her tracing book at home when her mother noticed something. My Little Miss had used her pen to color her fingernails pink.
In our home that’s a no-no for reasons we’ll discuss a little later. The ensuing conversation went like this…
“Ohhh, why did you draw on your fingernails?
“I wanted my nails to be pretty.”
“Do you know anyone who paints their nails?”
“The beautiful ladies at Costco.”
Damn you Cossssssstco! *shakes fist in air*
In many households, this would just be a case of a daughter emulating her mother. But my wife doesn’t wear nail polish or any makeup, and the practice is rare in our circle of friends. There’s no religious or medical reason. I can’t speak for my wife, but I’m a believer that “the natural look” is beautiful. That may sound strange, but in our neck of the woods it’s normal and accepted.
Accordingly, I’m in no rush to encourage my daughter’s inevitable experimentation with makeup, earrings, nail polish and so forth.
Our friend recently took her 3-year-old daughter across the country to visit family. When mom left for a few hours with a family member, she returned to find her daughter decked out in eye shadow, blush, lipstick, fake eyelashes, and, of course, a new hairdoâ€”all achieved at the hands of her cousins, ages 5 to 10.
This was normal activity for the kids, viewing a 3-year-old as a fun, almost doll-like object to spruce up. As you might have surmised, the mother doesn’t wear makeup. She took the adults aside to explain that this form of dress-up isn’t practiced in her home.
The cousins also gave the girl two giftsâ€”a Barbie doll and a toy purse filled with fake makeup. You can bet those toys will be disappearing as the 3-year-old’s memory fades over the next few weeks.
On Monday, we were at an elementary school benefit dinner honoring Martin Luther King, Jr. At our table, my wife was talking with a friend who had her nose pierced a few days earlier. My daughter interrupted.
“What is nose piercing?”
“It’s like ear piercing, but in your nose.” [leaning down to provide a better view]
“Why would you want your nose pierced?”
“It’s just something I really wanted to do for a while. You can touch it if you’re really careful. It’s just jewelry.”
The friend explained that you don’t get your nose pierced until you’re 30-years-old. (Ummm, okay.) And then the friend showed my daughter her bellybutton stud and said she also has a spider stud that makes her look like she has a spider in her bellybutton. Little Miss thought that was funny.
Meanwhile, a front-row performer in an interfaith gospel choir was sporting blue hair.
The dialogue between my daughter and her mother went like this:
“Mama, that lady has blue hair.”
“Okay, she has blue hair.”
“Why does she have blue hair?”
“I don’t know. She just wants her hair blue.”
“Why does she want blue hair?”
“I don’t know.”
[a couple minutes pass]
“Mama, why does she have blue hair?” [and so on]
She was quite bothered. She also pointed out a woman who had an eye patch and a bald black man she thought looked like Martin Luther King, Jr.
So, what’s my point?
I’m not sure I have a point. Developmentally, Little Miss is in a phase of noticing how people differ.
Yesterday morning, when she was supposed to be getting dressed for preschool, she was instead watching her mom get dressed…
“Go get dressed.”
“No, I want to be in here with you.”
“Well, could you at least go get your clothes and come back?”
“No, I want to stay here.”
“Why do you want to stay here? You’re not being a good listener. You need to get dressed.”
[shrug] “Well, you’re just so beautiful. I want to stay and look at you.”
My wife was dumbfounded, particularly at this point in time when she feels fat, bloated and swollen at almost 8 months into her pregnancy.
So, I guess my point is, my daughter’s concept of beauty is influenced by mom and dad, but at her young age she’s still able to form independent opinions. Nail polish good. Piercings weird. Blue hair bad. Mom beautiful.
I agree with most of those.