When I found out I was having a little girl and then subsequently a second little girl, I imagined what life would be like. I imagined getting a chance to relive my childhood memories- playing with My Little Ponies or Polly Pockets, dressing them in pretty dresses and skirts, and spending time brushing their hair and putting in all manner of clips and hairbands purely for experimentation purposes, just like my Mum used to do with me.
It all started off with those kind of intentions. When the girls were newborns, their wardrobe consisted of a lot of bright colours- happy flowery prints, rainbows and lots of pink. As they progressed into their toddler years, the baby grows got packed away and the colour pink wasn’t as prominent, but there was still plenty of room for a pretty flowery romper or an ever so cute dress.
Slowly though, it’s all changed. Somewhere along the line, when she was old enough to know her own mind, our beautiful big girl has decided that anything remotely classed as ‘girly’ isn’t for her. It started off with clothes, I’ve written about it before last year, but as soon as she was old enough to express herself and have an opinion, the clothes she classed as ‘girly’ were out and in it’s place were jeans, trousers, t-shirts and lots of black, white and bright colours. Her little sister is still very much an open book, she will wear dresses and skirts, plus her favourite colour is pink, but she is definitely influenced by what Mads does, especially when it comes to playing and games.
For her birthday and for Christmas Mads asked specifically for two things- she wanted a guitar and she wanted a skateboard. To say they both were big hits is an understatement, she loves nothing more than putting on her helmet, knee, elbow and hand pads and going out on the front of our road to learn tricks. Seeing my beautiful little girl at just five, with her long, flowing hair that is nearly down to her bottom, throw herself around on her skateboard, jumping back up quickly and with no fuss if she falls over, makes me feel strangely sentimental. Games and playing consists of being superheroes, Batman, Superman and the like, and if they ever play Mummy’s and Daddy’s then Mads is always the Daddy.
I never went into motherhood thinking I needed to follow rules. I’ve long learnt to accept that if my eldest daughter is happier this way then so be it. I will always respect, support and honour her choices. I half wondered whether school might change her views a little bit, whether she would go through that phase that so many of my friends children are going through at the moment, where ‘girls are not cool’ or that the girls ‘don’t like boys’, but Mads is more than happy to play with the girls and the boys. If I ever ask her who she has hung out with at school that day, it’s always the boys. And I truly love her for knowing her own mind.
Which brings me to my ‘ordinary moment’ for this week. Since she started school in September, I must admit there is one area in which I am still quite traditional. I really wanted Mads to wear a dress or skirt to school. I remember my own primary school days well, of wearing those little grey pinafore dresses with a ribbon in my hair. And to be fair to my big girl, she didn’t kick up a fuss at all about wearing these, she just assumed that was what you wore to school. After a couple of weeks, we found her some gorgeous culottes and she was so pleased to wear these every so often, calling them her ‘shorts’.
When I was out in Tescos a while ago, I found some girls school trousers with a belt. With the weather being so cold at the moment, I ordered them not really thinking much more about it. Then as all children do, Mads started going through a little phase a couple of weeks ago of shouting for us early in the morning. It wasn’t that early compared to some children, but as a family who seem to thrive better on a sleep routine, (until our newborn comes along!) it was just a little too early, and it also meant that she woke her sister up, as they share a room together, and she wasn’t quite ready to wake up.
So being fairly experienced in this parenting malarkey now and also a master of negotiation, (or as others may call it bribery) I set my five year old a deal. If she didn’t shout in the morning until we came and got her, then I had a little surprise for her. The first morning worked perfectly and she didn’t shout until half past seven until it was time to get up, just reading a book and playing with some of the toys she had up in her bed. So I presented her with her ‘surprise’, her pair of school trousers.
It doesn’t sound like much and to be honest I thought that it wouldn’t be a big deal. But my little girl was so excited about her school trousers that she jumped around the house in excitement. I truly haven’t seen her as excited in a long time. She put them on and modelled them for us, looking in the mirror, and chattering ten to the dozen about the other girls in older years that wear trousers too. She told me that if I let her wear trousers every day then she wouldn’t shout.
Since then, a couple of weeks ago, true to her word, she hasn’t once shouted out for us in the morning. At the weekends she has taken to climbing down into LL’s bed and cuddling and playing with her- we even had an 8.30am lie in yesterday as she entertains her little sister so she also doesn’t shout either. I feel a little guilty that it has taken a massive parenting bribe to get her to not shout and wake everyone up in the morning, but whatever works!
But the main thing is again, it just shows that while at only just five, I can still very much influence my little girl, it’s not always in her best interest. While I can guide her, discipline her and show her the way, at five years old she just wants to express herself, be her own person and find her own definition of style and fitting in.
And if a pair of school trousers brings the happiest smiles, the best behaviour and the most excited little girl, then I almost feel a little ashamed that I thought I had to go down the route of those ‘traditional’ grey pinafore dresses.
I’m so incredibly proud of my feisty, unique and wonderful little girl. I hope she always stays ‘her’.
(I’ve obviously removed her school logo from these photos but look at this happy face!)