Tuesday, September 29, 2009

peer pressure-less

Three months of out school and she's finally beginning to think for herself again!

I know how rude that sounds, but shortly after Smootch entered preschool she stopped using her own needs and desires are references when making decisions, and begin to use the generalized (bland) taste of girl, ages 3-5, as filtered through Disney princesses and Family Channel. Stages we all go through will affect our decisions, and obviously there is something in the over the top, las vegas/barbie style of feminity that appeals to little girls. Much like a super macho, ultra violent masculinity is pervasive in boys' play. I consider this normal (and fun).

As Smootch entered preschool, though, group-think hit her hard and the diversity of things and experiences she could take pleasure from shrunk down to a very narrow, mind-twitchingly glittery, world. Before starting school, Smootch had seen a few Disney princess movies, and she liked them, but she also liked Wee Sing videos, teletubbies and even that wretched Dora. Cinderella was just another movie, with long boring bits about falling in love.

Once in preschool, however, she got Disney religion. Cinderella was elevated to the role of demi-god. Hannah Montanna was high priestess and High School Musical a choir of angels, singing sweet songs of licensed merchandise and a Bring It On attitude. There were no longer any other colour than pink (bubble gum pink to be exact). There were no other princesses but Ariel, Aurora, Cinderella, Belle, and Jasmine. Eyes rolled in the back of head and hand pressed to slanty hips was the only way to address parents.

Hair could only be long and straight.

The few months since leaving school Smootch has been going through a real wild-girl hair stage, refusing to pin it out of her face, tie it up, or even brush it if it was possible to avoid her mother in the morning. Starting at a dance academy with a strict dress code has been a major point of contention. Hair has to be worn up, off the face, in a bun if possible. Smootch hates this, and will cry if I even mention a hair elastic. There is a real conflict with her idea of how her hair should look - long and flowing - and with the demands of her life: hair tied up for dance and brushed every so often. She's constantly fussing with her hair, annoyed, flicking it off her face and brushing it out of her eyes.

But no longer. Today we went for haircuts.

Both Smootch and I had our hair cut short. I was so very surprised when Smootch requested, without any prompting, her hair short "all the way around". I didn't even know this was up for negiotation. Last I heard on the topic was that Smootch wanted hair like a princess, which was interpreted as a style sported by a komondor dog. Smootch knew the appointment was coming up, and she gave it some thought, ultimatley deciding what she really wants was to walk into dance class and just dance without feeling like her scalp was being pulled off the back of her head.

Yes! She looks sooooooo sweet, pixieish, with short hair, like she should be wearing a flapper dress and doing the charleston. Here she is, zoned out watching tv, but looking cute and not at all feral as her hair of late has suggested:

I suppose can't actually totally credit homeschooling, or, rather, the lack of being in a preschooler hothouse, with this change of stance on hair. Smootch is maturing (too fast!) I can tell you this for sure, though: Smootch would of never, ever considered cutting her hair short when she was attending preschool. No way. She worried too much about what her friends would think. As with the other ladies in her class, the word, "princessy," was evoked as a value call on almost all decisions. As in, this thing/activity is 'princessy,' hence good or this thing/activity/style is not 'princessy,' hence bad. These days I hardly hear a thing about princesses. She also lists a good four or five colours now as being her favorite (but, yes, pink is still on the list, numero uno).

Which brings me around to Smootch's other hair decision. One that does involve pink. Having had her idea to dye her hair pink rejected, the second best was to purchase a pink wig, a la Stephanie of Lazy Town. The short hair facilitates the wig wearing. As Birdie Boy found out:

The wig looks nice on Smootch too (along with about half a dozen neighborhood kids that have also had a wear - anyone know how to wash these things?!)

Here's what I learnt about the whole thing. First, don't underestimate my kid, she's in there somewhere, no matter how much she sounds like an episode of Hannah Montanna. Second, it's not so much of what she is watching on tv, given that there is a variety to what is seen and a life happening away from the screen. What is dangerous is when that other life, the one that she engages in with all five (or more) senses, is overly concerned with what happens on the screens. When everyone else is talking 'princess' and only wears pink clothing with licensed images, Smootch can't help but conclude these princesses must be more important than she initally thought. She revisits, studies, and joins in. She is, after all, a smart one.

See, we are all learning, all the time :)

(Home school rocks!)

1 comment:

Stacey Newman-Greig said...

Good for Smootch. My resident diva has never wanted to be a princess (they NEVER get to do anything fun mom) and Barbie is banned in my house...but I have less success in getting her to believe there are other colours besides pink, purple and light blue. Guess we all have to pick our battles. Oh, and the diva is very jealous of the trip to the butterflies, we may have to try that ourselves.