Sugar and Spice

March 26, 2007

WonderBaby is a girly-girl. A train-and-truck-lovin’ bitch-slappin’ thug of a girly-girl, but a girly-girl nonetheless.

(That bitch-slappin’ thug part, I am not making up. You don’t mess with the WonderBaby. She will take you down. Older or bigger children who see opportunity – easy! candy (or, more usually, toy trains) from a baby! – in her tiny form learn their lessons quickly and painfully: you try (try) to take her train and you will receive a shove or a thump or a smack and a loud, remonstrative NO. But that’s a whole ‘nother post.)

She’s a girly-girl. And she’s a girly-girl who loves her some glitter and glam. Ring-toys and stuffed snakes become bracelets and boas; beads become stroller-bling; all bags become purses, carefully slung over wee shoulders or into the crooks of tiny arms and toted proudly ’round the house.


She does not get this from me. I have never carried a purse in the crook of my arm in her presence (I’m a messenger bag kinda girl), nor have I ever angled my wrists just so, the better to let a bangle catch the light. Come to think of it, I have not slipped bangles on my wrists nor flung scarves jauntily over my shoulders nor traipsed or flounced in any way since she was born. I have been, for the most part, Frump Mom. (I am not proud of this fact; I am simply stating it for the descriptive record. Again, whooole ‘nother post.) There is nothing glamour or glitz about me, nothing flouncy or traipsy or oooh look pretty shiny! And on the rare occasion that I have slipped on a pointy stiletto and jewellry and sashayed proudly around our living room (you know, for kicks), she has been long asleep.


So how is it that ten minutes in her presence would convince you that she’s being reared by Tyra Banks? (Tyra Banks with boxing gloves and a penchant for pink strollers, but still. Someone fierce.)

I had always thought that I would not encourage any daughter of mine in frilly excesses. I would not push pink, I would not push dolls (unless two-headed or otherwise subverted in their preciousness), I would not push princesses. I would not peddle pretty pretty. If she was going to gravitate toward these things, fine, but she would do so of her own accord, and not because they were the only options available. So it is that WonderBaby has, since birth, been surrounded by books and blocks and trains and the odd odd dolly. And, since she encountered one during a visit with a friend, a toy stroller. A toy stroller that is now thoroughly be-blinged with makeshift costume jewellry and covered in all manner of small bag and scarf and inhabited by whatever stuffed comrade is deemed deserving of pimped-out pasha treatment.

Sure, she loves her trains. And she can work a soccer ball like nobody’s bizniss. But that soccer ball is a shiny pink-and-silver confection of a thing, and those trains inevitably get tucked away in a twee little handbag and hooked over the handle of a bright pink stroller bestrewn with garlands of beads and ribbons (her own design, no less.)

Where did she come from, this wee, sparkly glamazon of a girl? And why do I – black-clad hipster doofus of a Gen-X/Y feminist – love it so much?

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    { 61 comments }

    mel March 26, 2007 at 3:51 pm

    Oh my. I could have written this exact post…right down to the shiny pink soccer ball. The Girl has so much diva stuffed into such a little body…and I have no idea where it came from. But she is going to be a force to be reckoned with…and it sound like Wonderbaby is too.

    As I type this…The Girl flew into the room at the sound of a Barbie commercial. Ugh.

    BOSSY March 26, 2007 at 4:08 pm

    Bossy’s daughter is way more feminine than Bossy. When her daughter was five she could walk perfectly in Bossy’s heels — while Bossy herself stumbles around like Tootsie.

    nomotherearth March 26, 2007 at 4:10 pm

    You love it because who doesn’t like playing dress-up? That’s the good stuff, man. I’m hoping the Boy goes into a costume phase. Right now, it’s all about cars, and I had nothing to do with that either. So much for avoiding gender-stereotyping, huh?

    Awesome Mom March 26, 2007 at 4:13 pm

    My boys love wearing necklaces and Harry often carries around a purse so I think that the dressing up is probably a universal kid thing. To a little kid a purse is a magical thing that amazingly holds stuff. I think they would flip if I got them a baby doll stroller but we really do not have the floor space for one so they have to get their stroller fix at playdates.

    Christina March 26, 2007 at 4:26 pm

    I guess there’s something to be said here about nature vs. nurture. Cordy is so very non-girly girl. For Christmas, she got a gift card, and had the entire Toys R Us to choose from. She picked trains.

    Now, I’m not much of a girly girl, either, but I am surprised that she’s not showing much interest in anything girly.

    metro mama March 26, 2007 at 4:35 pm

    I could have written this (tho not as well). I have no idea where it comes from.

    Jennifer March 26, 2007 at 4:37 pm

    I don’t have a daughter, yet…will in a few weeks. But! My son is a man’s man with a hint of girly. He’s been exposed to gender neutral, “girls” and “boys” toys. He loves trucks and trains and engines…

    Of course he also loves Mardi gras beads, putting my lingerie around his head, and purses.

    Anonymous March 26, 2007 at 4:37 pm

    hi HBM, well mine are all different,oldest one is a tomboy.but the 2 little ones,everything becomes jewellry,they wear tiaras,and dance and prance around here like princesses.huh?so not me.where does it come from?you should see what they use for makeup?and i don’t even own lipstick.i mean makeup,come on.and i’m embarassed to say but my 2 year old can put nailpolish(or nailpolisht)as she calls iton better than i.so i have no explanation for how they get so girly girlish.anyone?LAVENDULA

    Mimi March 26, 2007 at 4:55 pm

    My oldest nephew (the one whose dad called me a hipster doofus, on the basis of my swish new jean lafont pink/black plastic glasses) used to always ask for lipgloss, for toenail polish, for pretty hairdos. We thought it was because my sister and I modeled girliness to him. But I think it’s because the trappings of femininity are just so much fun for exploratory and imaginative play of all sorts, sensual fun of a sort not offered in the same ways by toys for banging or rolling and such.

    Lipgloss feels funny on teh lips, bracelets shine and jangle, satin things shimmer in the light and feel like water on the skin.

    Remains to be seen if Miss Baby will be girly. I do know that for now all bling on The Mama is only fit for eating …

    mothergoosemouse March 26, 2007 at 5:11 pm

    I think we love it because it’s truly THEM – not anything that we have encouraged or even hoped they would love. It’s a glimpse of their individuality (and at WB’s stage, it IS still individuality).

    Beyond the bling, I enjoy noticing and observing all sorts of behavioral quirks on the part of both Tacy and CJ – it’s such fun to see what makes them each unique.

    Ms. B March 26, 2007 at 5:13 pm

    Oh My God! She is so cute and full of personality! I almost cried.

    The only thing that comes to my mind is that she has inherited the artistic personality from you and her father.

    That personality may have materialized in a different form (you became a writer and her father a movie professional) but she is showing you that she has it too.

    Hers has appeared in a visual form (rather than literature, etc).

    Kate March 26, 2007 at 5:25 pm

    It’s funny how some kids truly live up to the gender. My boys are total BOYS by every meaning behind the stereotype. I, of course, was a total tomboy as a kid so I had major gender issues. At least she already knows what she wants!

    Kyla March 26, 2007 at 5:29 pm

    KayTar too! My in-laws are getting quite the kick out of her tendencies towards princesses and pink frilliness!

    slouching mom March 26, 2007 at 5:31 pm

    That second picture of WonderBaby is SO TOTALLY CUTE I CAN’T STAND IT!

    Yeah, it’s perfect proof of genetics vs. environment (so says the psychologist).

    In our house, genetics rears its twisty DNA head in the differences between my two boys, who could easily be described in terms of nonintersecting circles in a Venn diagram, the nonintersection being the important part.

    Redneck Mommy March 26, 2007 at 5:46 pm

    WB is like a piece of confection…just so cute you want to nibble her.

    Don’t worry, I won’t. I got in trouble the last time I tried that with an adorable toddler.

    My girl is definetly not a princess. She rocks out like Bif Naked and has since she was a wee small girl. And I tried to deny it, discourage it, by peddling the pink and tossing in the bling.

    She would have none of it.

    And I wouldn’t have it any other way. For now.

    When she dies her hair jet black and starts rimming the eyes with goth black eyeliner, we may chat.

    Until then, I’ll just soak up who she chooses to be.

    Because she certainly ain’t soaking up the sweatpants and tee vibe from me….

    kristen March 26, 2007 at 6:11 pm

    As you know, I’ve often wondered this. But I will tell you this, I’m done fighting in.

    I’m all for it now. I figure I’ll be fighting with her soon enough –might as well join in the fun.

    Until she hates me.

    And all that great stuff.

    Magpie March 26, 2007 at 6:14 pm

    I wear jeans and a black shirt almost every day. My kid is of the “I like pink all the time” school – pink dress, orange tights – pink shirt, green leggings – hot colors all the time. And a tiara. Either I’m in for it, or she’ll come to her senses.

    Bon March 26, 2007 at 6:19 pm

    she’s the fiercest little femme i’ve ever laid eyes on. i think i like her. i showed O her picture and he likes her.

    is she into arranged marriages along with all the pinkie bling glam stuff?

    O’s predilections are really only beginning to show themselves, and are largely reserved thus far for Boynton books and Little People farm animals (i think he has a thing for sheep…dunno what to make of that) but i will say the idea of him going all out on the gender spectrum does scare the crap out of me. if WB has found glamdom all on her own, does this mean O will begin demanding nasty Spiderman-branded stuff and guns?

    i quake.

    Aimee March 26, 2007 at 6:52 pm

    One day she’ll grow up and teach you some of the things she knows.

    I’m a total girlie girl – I collect shoes and purses. My mom, used to carry a velcro wallet and a comb. No purses. Not until I grew up and showed her how much cool stuff you could carry!

    And now, she’s a skirt and heel wearing kind of gal. :)

    Kim March 26, 2007 at 7:22 pm

    My son generally doesn’t care what he wears during the day, but he cares about his pjs! Goes into hysterics if I give him the wrong ones.

    My little girl doesn’t care yet (almost a year old, where does the time go?). I was so into “not pink”. But now . . . . she has no hair and she has so many hand me downs from her brother that I feel compelled to dress her in pink girly-girl. (Funny story, I was so concerned about her having all boy pjs as hand me downs that I actually bought girly pjs for the boy so that he could hand them down to his sister. He LOVES them. So picture this — little 2 1/2 yr old boy with blonde curls running around in purple pjs w/ butterflies. Next to him, my daughter with NO hair and blue pjs w/ trucks. This is only one of many reasons my children will need therapy when they grow up.)

    Mrs. Chicky March 26, 2007 at 7:50 pm

    I had a hard time coming to terms with my girly girl (who kicks a mean soccer ball and has a hell of a fastball), but I did. There’s nothing cuter than a toddler pushing around a stroller, doll tucked in tightly, and a purse on her shoulder. “Bye Bye, Mama!”

    Kills me every time.

    Beck March 26, 2007 at 7:57 pm

    My oldest was pretty much the most feminine creature on her – ballgown wearing, little tiara in place, doll in arm crook – and suddenly she’s morphed into a soccer-playing, spy obsessed, would-be karate assassin. Kids are just FUNNY.

    Elizabeth March 26, 2007 at 8:15 pm

    I just have to say that “be-blinged” is the best word EVAR.

    something blue March 26, 2007 at 8:18 pm

    I blame my husband. He painted her fingernails.

    Strawberry always preferred trucks, cars, balls and animals to girly toys. I was shocked to hear her recently tell me that cars are for boys. It is likely from exposure to other children’s experiences influencing her at daycare.

    Yet I don’t mind that she likes to play dress up. She can bust a move too.

    WonderBaby does everything with style! I certainly wouldn’t let either of my girls’ mess with her.

    kgirl March 26, 2007 at 9:11 pm

    wb is all kinds of cute.
    there is nothing funnier than seeing your wee daughter walk around with a purse in the crook of her arm, like some floridian grandmother. too freakin adorable, even if you have no clue where they get it from.

    Alley Cat March 26, 2007 at 9:17 pm

    It’s weird. I was/am sort of a tom-boy, so I find it odd when Pumpkin cuddles her one doll, or plays with the toy make-up at her play group. I too never wanted to dress her in pink, but everyone gave me pink clothes for her, and now I love her in pink. I’m still not sold on dresses though.

    Jerri Ann March 26, 2007 at 9:28 pm

    I wanted a girly girl that could hit homeruns and spike a volleyball with the best of them…I got train-loving boys instead so……..I would love me some pink…

    Mary G March 26, 2007 at 9:39 pm

    I have never done this before, but…if you have time, please go and read my Sunday post.

    And you did it so much better!

    Lisa b March 26, 2007 at 9:41 pm

    First of all my guess would be that she knows your dirty little stiletto secret – its in the genes.
    Other than that I have no idea. I have tried to encourage trains and discourage dolls so naturally my girl is obsessed with dolls.
    A girly girl who can take you down sounds like a good combo to me.

    Mary G March 26, 2007 at 10:18 pm

    Yeah, I do think it’s fine when they choose it. Little stuff still grabs her brothers’ Mardi Gras beads whenever she can, and has a pink stroller very much like WonderBaby’s. Who is Absolutely Adorable, just in passing.

    What worries me is how the little girls get treated by adults when they are done up in the pink glitter, and what they learn from how they are treated. I come from an era when this was a big issue, and maybe I’m still channeling the white satin hairbows, but “Oh, she is just the sweetest little thing” scares me. I had to fight so hard to get free of it, and I had to fight pretty hard to keep my daughters free of it. (But they had lots of beads and dress-up princess clothes to play with at home.)
    Drat — I’m blathering on. Anyway, I really, really loved your post. And I note WonderBaby is done up in black in one photo, hmm?

    Ruth Dynamite March 26, 2007 at 10:57 pm

    I’ve got one too, and I have to say, being a frumpesque slob myself, that I kinda like having someone around with a sense of style. In a few years, I’m willing to bet that you, like me, will be consulting your daughter’s opinion on your outfits. Scary? Yes. But also kind of cool.

    Annie, The Evil Queen March 26, 2007 at 11:13 pm

    My son loves truck (especially FIRE trucks), balls, tools and anything with wheels. But je also loves his shopping cart, Mardi Gras beads and his candy collecting pumpkin from Halloween, which he fills with his cells phone, wallet, and keys and carries on his arm. I keep telling my husband, “It’s a carry-all. It’s European!” There is no telling what they will like, but it’s all part of their personalities. I think that is what tickles us so much.

    Alex Elliot March 26, 2007 at 11:38 pm

    Both of my sons love Mardi Gras beads. The older one is completely attached to a Groovy Girl doll that he’s had for almost two years now. She goes every where with him. We did have a doll stroller but it spent so much time in time out for being used to chase the dog that we ended up giving it away. We recently got another one since it’s been a year and the my older son really likes it.

    flutter March 27, 2007 at 1:45 am

    *sigh*

    she’s is freakin’ fierce little pink storm of glittery goodness

    Alpha DogMa March 27, 2007 at 1:54 am

    I gave my two boys a box of dress up jewellery – they put on rings, tiaras, bracelets and necklaces. I was so enamoured of my future sensitive new age guys.

    Then they put on their pirate costumes and I was told it was treasure they’d stolen from a princess and they went off to bury it under the sofa.

    Yeah. So there is no message here – at least about gender roles. My success at instilling in them moral values…well I pretty much suck at that part of parenting.

    Robin March 27, 2007 at 4:11 am

    Nancy White can explain this phenomenon oh so much better than I ever could:

    http://www.csee.umbc.edu/~mariedj/browse/funny/feminist-daughters

    (I hope this link works. If not, it’s a song called “Daughters of Feminists” – well worth a google.)

    Multi-tasking Mommy March 27, 2007 at 8:25 am

    I find it so fascinating how children have their own interests regardless of being pushed into gender stereotypes! Girls will be girls and boys will be boys.

    I do think it is important for us as parents to provide them with all of the options and as you say, they will settle into their own groove and we will support it! We gave the bunny a truck for Christmas in hopes to stimulate some interest in more “non girly” toys and she has hardly touched it. Rather, she walks around the house with her dolls, stroller and grocery cart. For her upcoming 2nd bday (on Friday) she will be getting a train set. Another attempt at expanding her repertoire…we’ll see how that goes over!

    Jenifer March 27, 2007 at 9:27 am

    This could be my house, just double the girls.

    It only gets better, now they dress each other up and parade around.

    Lovin my girls.

    Christy March 27, 2007 at 10:38 am

    Can I just say “Rock on, Wonderbaby!”? I am a frumpy mom with boys. I take great pleasure in your daughter’s penchant for bling. You go girl.

    Fairly Odd Mother March 27, 2007 at 11:25 am

    Those pictures are priceless. I can relate to the girliness of my girls but what has really astounded me is my third child, my son, who was born into a land of Barbies, dolls and pink. He immediately locked into the Barbie car and vroomed it everywhere. He sleeps with toy trains (hard little plastic things!) and pulls the heads off the Barbies. His boyness, in spite of his surroundings, has been compelling to watch.

    CPA Mom March 27, 2007 at 11:42 am

    My son’s favorite toy is his pink princess phone (that we bought for our daughter). Complete with pink boa feathers on it.

    My daughter’s favorite toy is the Home Depot tool set (drill, saw)(that we bought for our son).

    I give up on figuring it out.

    kittenpie March 27, 2007 at 12:28 pm

    Oh god, yes. Pumpkinpie, too, is all into trains and cars and balls and running and jumping and blocks and her hardhat-and-tool-belt combo, and her trike is red and blue, but… She got a toy stroller because she kept absconding with ones belonging to other kids at the park. She has no dolly, but will now get one for her birthday. And she’s all about pink and purple. How did that happen? I’m not a girly-girl, really. But the gender divide will out, it seems. (And for the record, you are so not Frump Mom, woman! Not girly and frilly, perhaps, but not a frump.)

    jen March 27, 2007 at 1:00 pm

    it’s our shadow side, Bad…i often worried it would only be those really dark and hidden pieces of me, but when it’s the lighthearted shadow, i think Jung must have had a sense of humor.

    Must have. She’s a peach.

    mcewen March 27, 2007 at 1:29 pm

    I have an American chum with a similar disposition about her similarly gorgeous little girl. So don’t worry about the nature/nurture debate, it’s all just ‘luck’ – her kids are adopted.
    Cheers

    merseydotes March 27, 2007 at 3:07 pm

    Having a girl has really made me think about the innate differences between the sexes. Petunia is 3 1/2 years old, and while she has some toy tool sets, it is her dress up clothes and play vanity that get the most mileage. She now refuses to wear pants on a regular basis because they’re not pretty. I give up. I’m only buying dresses and skirts these days.

    Canucked-up mama March 27, 2007 at 4:11 pm

    WB is a very cute Renaissance baby – well rounded in her love of both trains AND bling.

    I have wondered this exact same thing – will my 8 month old become a girly-girl? I ain’t no princess, and there will be no matching mother/daughter crinolined dresses (much to the chagrin of my Mother-in-Law). I can’t wait to see what happens.

    Mom101 March 27, 2007 at 5:13 pm

    Isn’t it funny how it works? Thalia likes to pretend putting makeup sponges on her face or wearing necklaces because I do. But some stuff I think it’s just in them. She has never been introduced to any disney princess crap and yet when we passed a Cinderella billboard in LA she pointed to it and went “oooohhhhh…”

    Insanity.

    sweatpantsmom March 27, 2007 at 5:40 pm

    She IS fierce. And workin’ that snake.

    I think the apples DO fall far from the tree. My girls are girlie girls, too – more so than they’ve ever seen me demonstrate. But I love it, too.

    Jaelithe March 27, 2007 at 6:06 pm

    My son completely ignores the baby dolls I got him before he was born, but has grand adventures with his trains and cars.

    However, he also loves Hello Kitty. He has a sparkly pink Hello Kitty toothbrush.

    (Shhhh.)

    scribbit March 27, 2007 at 6:27 pm

    My oldest is that way but the youngest, having a couple brothers to dilute the girliness, is the opposite.

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