Wednesday, February 04, 2009

She Ain't Nice; She's My Daughter

I often wonder how I'm doing as a parent. As psychotic as it sounds, I review the day in my head every night to see where I did the good stuff and to think about how I can do the other stuff differently next time. Don't get me wrong. I'm not aiming for perfection or anything resembling it. I just like to give some thought to my parenting so I can assist the BBDD in his vow to "keep her off the pole." Some days I feel like I am the greatest mom ever. Other days I pray to God that I'll make it to her bedtime without bloodshed or a psychotic break.

Today was one of those days where I felt like I must be doing something right. I was watching Bambina in her toe tapper class. There is a little boy in her class who just loves her, while she is totally noncommittal due to her current distaste for boys. This kid is so sweet and a little off-beat. He wears dresses to school. And girls' pajamas. And he loves pink and purple. (I'm digressing here to say that this is why I love 4 year olds: they don't care about stuff like that. This kid has other boy friends, and nobody cares about the dresses; they don't make leaps of judgment based on their biases. Except, the kids' parents do, and worry that this dress thing might be abnormal or amoral or--gasp!--communicable. Same with me and Bambina. I was offering her peanut M&M's before class, then I kissed her and said "I love you; have fun!" A kid near me said, "You are her mommy," and I said, "Yes I am!" A lady comes over and asks me if the petite blond one is mine; I say "No--she is mine, and have to finally say, after pointing 5 times--'the adorable Asian girl' to get her to comprehend that a total Aryan appearance does not require an Aryan child. The kid got it without all the adult assumptions: you are the person who loves this girl; you must be her mommy.)

Anyway, boy dancer wants one of the purple dancing ribbons but gets yellow instead. He was so sad that he started to cry inconsolably. I could see Bambina--purple ribbon in hand--looking at him and walking toward him.

Now, I know how you want this story to end so it can be One To Grow On, but it doesn't end that way and I'm glad it doesn't. Let me tell you why.

Bambina walked over to him and patted/rubbed his back a few times while nodding at him, then she walked away with her purple ribbon in her hand. (You expected a different ending from a 4 year old?!) I kind of teared up watching her, because her behavior showed all the qualities that I hope every day I'm teaching her:


Notice that I didn't say "niceness." I really pray that my daughter will never be nice. Because when people want girls to be "nice," what they want is for them to be more concerned with others than themselves, to the detriment of themselves. You'll pardon me for not raising a nice doormat. I spent too many years of my life being nice in the suffocating sense of the word, and it did not bring positive people or events into my life. So of course I want her to be an empathetic, kind, and giving person. I want her to react when she sees someone hurting. Of course. But I don't want her to feel like it's her job to fix someone or to be responsible for someone else's happiness to the detriment of her own. She's not spoiled. During playdates she will suggest compromises to work through conflicts with her girlfriends, which often involve her giving something up, so she's not (nor is she allowed to be selfish). But this was a different situation, and one I'm glad occurred as it did.

If that makes me not a nice mommy, then I'll gladly take the rap.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for saying this.

Stine said...

What a great event description! It strikes me that we (society) perhaps need to redefine what "nice" means.

Of course, I'm a firm believer in life not being nice in the American, slightly saccharine sense - and I hope my daughter grows up knowing that nice comes in a variety of flavours.

I look forward to reading more of your blog posts.

Joe Tornatore said...

great post.
read it twice.