How to Raise a PC Kid

Like most parents, I have no idea what I’m doing most days. For most of the last five years, I’ve been feeling my way in the dark. And although I wanted to be one of those hyper-liberal parents who lets her kid just be a kid and doesn’t try to interfere in any way, everyone knows that even non-choices and non-interference are choices. Because we all have these beliefs — morals, if you will — that we intentionally or unwittingly pass on to our kids, either through our actions or through our words. I’m a vegetarian, for example, and although I’d never take a cue from this asshole and tell my daughter about animal cruelty, and I really do let her choose what she wants to eat (within reason) including meat, by not cooking it at home, I’m making her an evening-and-weekend herbivore.

Actions may speak louder than words, but now that Diva’s got an extensive, multi-lingual vocabulary, this playing it by ear parenting technique has gotten a lot easier. She can express herself (recently telling me how delicious the chicken at a birthday party was) so I’m getting to know her wishes better. And when she’s confused about the world? Just ask Mom. Makes my life a lot easier to finally know what in the world is going on in that overactive brain of hers. When you’re dealing with a kid, words are the central key to understanding those actions.

At the same time, it’s gotten a lot tougher to be a completely unprepared parent. Like a couple months ago when she, seemingly unprompted, wanted to know if blood comes out of a vagina when a woman is having a baby. I’ve always believed honesty to be the best policy so I said yes, but I didn’t go further because I could not for the life of me figure out why she was asking this and I didn’t want to scare her off having kids when she still hasn’t hit puberty (which is, of course, when we’ll be YouTubing deliveries to scare her away from the boys). Turns out, there was a very graphic drawing in her “Was ist los im Krankenhaus” Wimmelbuch and she was just fact-checking the illustration. How very pedantic. Her curiosity as to why this happens was not piqued. Thankfully, because I wouldn’t have known how to proceed. By using medical terminology that would just confuse her more? I had a set of books as a kid called “Tell Me Why” that explained all this stuff in a very straightforward manner that was easy to understand, but which seriously led my mom to be like, “Go get your books” every time I had a question. And since I feel like my role here as a parent is to guide my daughter through life, I’d prefer to be using these “teachable moments,” having these conversations with her myself, even about topics I don’t know a damn thing about. So I’ve been trying to prepare myself better, trying to figure out what age-appropriate topics she’s going to be asking about. But still, mostly feeling my way in the dark here.

I totally disagree with guiding my daughter through life by putting ideas and questions into her mind, so I’m taking the “you ask, I’ll answer” tack and not the other way around. She hasn’t asked yet about anything even remotely religious so I am not spending my days explaining the concept of heaven to her whenever we look up at the sky. Instead, we talk facts, like “that’s a cloud,” and “those are stars.” By waiting for her to call the shots on certain topics, however, I recently realized I’ve put her at a distinct disadvantage. You see, a lot of what runs the world are social constructs and if you aren’t directly faced with these constructs, they’re somewhat baffling. They are beyond what a five-year-old can imagine on her own.

Take, for instance, the idea of angels and devils. Thanks to the masses out celebrating Carneval, my daughter now knows what these are supposed to look like — all golden halos or pointy red ears and tail. But the concept? Completely foreign. Some people and/or spiritual creatures are good and some are evil? But why would some choose to not be good? And why do they insist on wearing red stilettos while doing so?

Thanks to books she’s had read to her at school, her imagination is filled with flying unicorns and glitter-sprinkling fairies but in her world everything is happy and shiny and damnit, I aim to keep it that way as long as I possibly can. She doesn’t ask why these unicorns can fly and I am not about to go and put ideas in her head. Just like I’m not going to explain the concept of the devil on anything more than a superficial level.

But here’s where it just got tricky. Thanks again to Karneval, Diva was exposed today to the idea of cowboys and Indians. Not, of course, the true-to-life sort of Native Americans that live on reservations near my parents who do such exotic things like teach at universities and wear blue jeans or Ford F150-driving cattle herders whose shit-kickers are caked in dirt. Nope. She was introduced to fucking Winnetou and Old Shatterhand and needed to know, immediately, why people would put feathers in their hair and PAINT THEIR FACES RED and wear ponchos. Now maybe it’s my Americanism or the fact that our family descends from displaced Cherokees or maybe in part it was the whole Blackface debate that’s been raging in Germany lately, but this just put me over the top. How am I supposed to raise a culturally-aware and sensitive human being when we are surrounded by this nonsense? How do I help her understand that fun is fun, but doing so at others’ expense is not okay?

I decided to take the factual route and explain to her that while she and I were real Indians, even though neither of us had black hair, the people dressed as Indians were insensitive assholes trading in stereotypes and by trying to take the individuality away from a specific ethnic group through othering, they were showing their racist nature. And then I complimented her on her not-gender-neutral choice of Princess costume complete with magic wand and we got off the train feeling like a bunch of Klugscheissers.

But seriously people. How the fuck are we supposed to be raising humanists in a world where these arbitrary divisions based on ethnic heritage are not a thing of the past? How am I supposed to be answering questions about social constructs I don’t even agree with? Help!

Things I Never Thought I’d Say to My Daughter

You know how they say we all turn into our parents eventually? Well, yeah. That’s me right about now. I’m not talking about wearing jeans with an elastic waist band or a crocheted cardigan or getting tri-focals and complaining about that darned small print on everything as I lift my chin toward the ceiling while trying to read from the bottom half of my glasses.

I’m talking about some of the nonsense that’s been coming out of my mouth lately. I swore I would never ever tell my kid stupid myths so I did not even bother with the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus (my parents did try that noise but the Diva figured it out right quick when she discovered her bicycle just *chilling* in my sister’s shower last Christmas). She’s not an idiot and I’m not a liar. So instead of telling her her teeth will rot out of her head if she doesn’t brush, I threaten her with zero more gummi bears if she doesn’t brush.

Actually, I shouldn’t use the word threaten because I don’t do much of that. I’m all about “laying down the law” and using those dreaded mom phrases like “because I said so” and “you’re going to do it and like it” and “someday you’ll thank me for this.” Jesus, instead of a liar, I have become an ueber-annoying mom, one of those smirking, smart-alecky know-it-all Moms whose smugness makes their teenagers just want to punch them.

At the same time, I’m also one of those dreaded European extra-casual parents that non-parents, especially of the Anglo-Saxon variety, seem to hate. You know, the kind who would walk away from her irrational, tantruming child, not bothered at all by the shrieking that everyone else in the store is running away from. Because really, what’s the point of trying to rationalize to a 4-year-old Diva in Training whose breakfast and lunch consisted of pepperoni pizza and ice cream and who’s just spent the last four hours running through a germ-infested ball pit that your decision to not buy the glitter fuschia headband does not equate the end of the world? Ain’t nothing going to calm that over-tired, sugar-crashing little girl down except for me to buy the glitter fuschia headband and that’s the kind of behavior Amis are all about condoning, which is what’s led to the culture of narcissists over there and though my Diva may have good reason to be staring at herself in the mirror, that kid is not going to be an adult brat screaming to get her own way like all those ninnies on reality tv. Instead, she’s going to be the toddler pounding her fists on the floor of the druggery just to piss all you childless folks off so she can learn that she doesn’t always get her own way.

And this, folks, is precisely why I’m at the edge of a nervous breakdown as I write this. Because four-year-olds do not like to not get their own way. And because the way that a four-year-old wants the world to work is absurd to say the least. Seen the Reasons My Son Is Crying Tumblr lately? You know, where the kids pitch fits because of stupid shit like their socks don’t come off quickly enough? Well, Diva’s been pitching a whole lot of fits lately. About having to wear a sweater in near-freezing temperatures. About not being able to wear her ballet shoes to the playground. About the bottle cap not coming off fast enough. She has, also, I confess, picked up on the appropriate use of the word fuck and has told me, when I’ve tried to correct her, that “Oh no” is not a proper substitute because it’s not strong enough to express her very real anger. Fuck.

As much as I wanted to be one of those hippy-dippy parents who let her kid choose what she wanted to do with her life and be accepting of those choices, I find myself really having to work hard to steer this kid toward the direction of oh, say, sanity. I admit: I have let the princess outside in her polyester gown with bustle. I have let her wear a damned crown to kindergarten every single day for a month, provided she share her crown with whomever happened to have a birthday that day. But sometimes, I have to draw the line, and this week, I found myself saying the following without even cringing:

– You can’t go out of the house looking like that. Your belly is showing.

– Please don’t wear your high heels on the sofa.

– That skirt is too short.

– Go wash that make-up off right now, young lady.

She’s not even a teenager yet, and I already sound like I’m ancient. Lord help us all when the day finally arrives that these are legitimate concerns and not just attempts at instilling some decency in the kid. For now, people still think it’s cute that she has plastic high heels with pink bows on them and that she likes to steal my black eye shadow and smear it on her forehead and so my cringe-worthy statements are more like commands given in the hopes that her inner voice develops with a bit of decency in mind. But when she’s a pre-teen and that cuteness threshold has hit its peak and she still feels like heading out the door in a dress a size too small? Eek. Save us all.

Getting Naked in Germany

No stereotype about the Germs holds more true than that of the Teutonic fondness for nudity. Kids here run around without bathing suits until just before puberty, after which there’s about a five year period where disrobing is done in the locker room without much shame before the teenies discover the strangeness that is singles’ night at the mixed-gender sauna, complete with disco balls and strobe lights, and corporeal shame is left in the locker room with the trousers and pants.

I wish I could say all this nakedness bothers me, because I’m American and Americans believe bodies are evil and wrong to look at (unless we’re paying to do so), but after seven years in Germany, I’m a bit more “to each his own” about it. Don’t get me wrong — I do believe in a time and place for nudity. I’m really not okay with other adults stripping down in the park in full view of everyone just because the sun has shined for the first time in what feels like a decade. I am an expert eye averter but that doesn’t mean I don’t *notice* nudity around me.

Still, I don’t think that when the weather is sweltering it’s such a godawful idea to let the Diva run around in the buff on the balcony. Or to strip down to jump in the lake, even if the bathing suit was left behind in the car.

no nudityIt’s taken me a while to get to this point. The first time I met my friend Ingrid’s parents, they invited us to go swimming at a local hole, hiked us down a little path in the woods, and stripped naked (except, ahem, for the standard black trouser socks and Birkenstocks, which were later left on the lakeshore) before putting their own bathing suits on. My jaw still hadn’t properly shut by the time they’d swum across the lake and back and stripped out of their wet suits and back into their practical summer gear and asked me what my problem was, why I was still standing on the shore in my bathing suit, dry. At that point, I don’t think I’d even seen my own mother naked in decades, and my mother was extremely open, so having to look Ingrid’s parents in the eye after that was impossible.

My membership at a sauna has really worked toward changing that for me, at least in terms of my own acceptance of other people showing off their bodies. Though that’s not putting it correctly, because for Germans, it’s not showing off. It’s getting naked and it doesn’t matter. Just like not a single German I knew was shocked by Bravo magazine (and were shocked, instead, at my shock), no German I know seems to get it when I talk about how weird it is to be sitting side by side with dozens of nude, sweaty people.

You sure won’t see any Germans writing blog posts about how uncomfortable they are with stripping down and doing the sauna thing (even though the SEOs on those posts would jumpstart their blogs). You won’t see me doing it, either, really — Resident on Earth created a nice guide for the newcomers on her blog — as I have become the master at staying as fully dressed as possible in the sauna (hint: wrap an extra-large bath towel under your robe) so I don’t find it uncomfortable at all. At least, not during the hours of 10 and 12 on non-holiday weekdays, which are the only times my ass is sprawled out on a towel (careful not to drip a drop of sweat on the wood) because that’s when the sauna is empty.

I will, however, say this: although I’m still not a fan of running around without clothes on myself, at least not in broad daylight, and you won’t see me playing beach volleyball (or frisbee, whatever) at an FKK campground, I think that being forced to confront every inch of your body — and being faced with every inch of other peoples’ bodies, not airbrushed — has really helped me overcome body issues that growing up American ingrained in me. And I’m doing it now, faking it a bit when I say it’s no big deal that that other kid’s wee-wee is hanging out while they’re splashing in the mud at the playground, because I don’t want the Diva growing up feeling ashamed of her body. I’d much prefer her to be German in that regard. Maybe not stripping down to her black socks in the park at the first sight of sun. But to be proud enough of her very normal body so as to not turn her chest to the wall of lockers, even in a single-gender locker room, is a real plus when it comes to being a woman in the world today.

In California this year, I got my first taste of how well that worked and it was pretty amazing to witness this cultural difference. While Diva stood in the locker room at the swimming pool naked, gnawing on her fruit leather while I changed out of my dripping bathing suit, a family of four girls and their mom all walked in, hid in the corner, and began to discuss why there was a girl without any clothes on. As if seeing a naked toddler was the biggest, worst thing to ever happen to them. Diva, German as she is, remained oblivious to the uproar she was causing to this family by nature of her god-given existence (especially the problems she was causing this mother who simply could not fathom why my daughter did not have her robe wrapped around her body and repeatedly told her kids as much). And so instead of getting all worked up and covering her up as that mom would’ve liked me to have done, I took off my own suit and walked with her through the locker room toward the toilets, leaving the towel behind on the bench. I may not be fully Germanized yet, but I sure am happy to be leaving that American body shaming behind.

Meeting the Diva’s Bonus Mama

Last week, in what could very well have been the most awkward meeting I have experienced yet, I got to meet Diva’s new Bonus Mom.

Bonus Mom is a concept developed by the Danish child psychologist that all the German ueber-Mamas love, Jasper Juul, and one that I fully embrace. Instead of looking at the ex’s new lady-for-life as the wicked stepmother, I’m taking a cue from Juul and thinking of this third adult in my child’s life as an extra addition to provide her the love and support she needs while growing into a mature person.

And though I told the Baby Daddy this, he insists that anytime I have an issue with him and his total lack of being a grown-up and I refuse to oh, say, allow him to take the Diva camping in a mudhole in freezing weather right after she had the flu, that really I am showing my jealous side. Because, you know, the dolt thinks I still want his sorry bottom back in my bed and in order for that to happen, I first have to prevent him from shacking up in a tent with his girlfriend and my kid. Uh-huh. I hated to break it to the bud but there is no green-eyed monster here. Instead of envy, let’s try another four-letter word: Pity.

Pity for the poor Bonus Mama who’s decided she likes the dude enough to clean up after his dinner-making endeavors explode in the kitchen and leave split peas on the ceiling and to wash the holey socks he’s too stingy to replace and to forgo sleep because of all the snoring. You know, the fun stuff that accompanies “love.”

But decide she did and despite that, I respect her. She took in a pathetic shell of a man (his words after I left him) and took in his daughter, too, and there’s really something to be said for accepting a kid with love even though that kid’s not your own.

I knew from everything that Diva had said about her that Bonus Mama does love my child. Still, I insisted that since the Diva’s staying at her house now that I needed to inspect both the woman and the premises. You wouldn’t just hire a babysitter sight-unseen at someone else’s recommendation, would you? A very uncomfortable lunch date was thence made. And as it goes with the Baby Daddy, said date was broken like five million times, but finally last Sunday I rolled on up to her house for some coffee and cake.

After 12 tedious years together, dude does know that I neither drink coffee in the afternoon nor do I eat cake. I sure don’t wile away my Sunday afternoons chatting with strangers in their kitchen. In an attempt to be friendly, though, and accepting of the German traditions that this Bonus Mama’s going to be handing down to the Diva – like eating chocolate marzipan cake at four in the afternoon even when it’s no one’s birthday – I went along with it. Showed up directly from my spinning class, confident that I looked like a million bucks, because there’s nothing so important when meeting your replacement than looking like you own the place. Cheryl Strayed put this nicely over on Facebook when she wrote about all the self-doubts that crept into her thoughts after running into a woman her ex-husband was dating during the split that Cheryl herself had instigated. No stranger to self-doubt myself, I took Cheryl’s tale as pre-cautionary; I was not going to leave Bonus Mama’s house in tears the way Cheryl had left her brief meeting with her replacement just because I wasn’t thrilled with my hairstyle or the extra bit of chub on my belly.

I didn’t need to worry, though. Because not only is Bonus Mama quite friendly and accommodating. She is also an exact replica of the woman I was when I left the Baby Daddy 2+ years ago. Same hairstyle (none) and color; same brand of jeans that don’t quite fit or flatter; same height and weight (Mummy Tummy); same taste in books and no-nonsense attitude. And dude acted, as expected, exactly the same with her as he had done with me. Some things never change.

But seeing this woman, I realized: I’m really glad I did.

I remember being absolutely, despondently miserable when I was that woman. I never really wanted to be the hausfrau who runs the family show, darning socks and getting on the kids about their homework and letting herself go all to pot because the money spent going to the gym tastes better as chocolate cake. That was who the Baby Daddy wanted me to be, but if there’s anything I’ve learned since being single, it’s that there’s no reason to compromise yourself for someone else’s ideals. If he’s found that woman naturally in his new Bonus Mama, that’s awesome. I’m sure it’ll keep him happy to be with her.

Just as not being with him has kept me so happy…. and helped me become the person I always wanted to be.

How Not to Give a Kid an Eating Disorder, Part 2

The Diva announced the other day that she no longer eats white foods. She prefers broccoli to cauliflower now, she says. This, I think, is awesome and I tell her so. I’m glad she’s willing to eat her greens, even if her former go-to vegetable has been shelved in the meantime.

Except that if it’s all about color, we’re going to have problems. Her staple diet of broetchen and noodles isn’t going to cut it if white is not acceptable for food.

I’ve already witnessed this with clothing. Clothing can only be pink or purple or must be extra super-duper special, like a tulle ballet skirt that twirls.

But food? There is no such thing as pink pasta, right? At least not naturally pink. There are Pink Lady apples and she likes those, although peeled so I don’t think it’s *only* because of the color. I don’t tell her they’re white on the inside though I’m sure she knows this. And I find myself hoping that the interest in eating green broccoli sticks. I’m really afraid it won’t.

I’m afraid not that she’ll give up her love for broccoli — my affairs with nearly all foods go through spurts. Some weeks I could devour one eggplant after another, the next I find it meh and hop on a carrot stick craze. Here is what I am afraid of: me and her both overthinking her diet. Making it an issue of color instead of taste (her). An issue of fat/protein/carb ratios instead of texture and mouth-feel and all-around goodness (me).

We already talk about food too much. Discuss what we will and won’t eat. Make trade-offs and compromises: I’ll give you two gummy bear vitamins after you finish your yogurt. Or: I’ll let you eat a tofu dog this once but next time you have to eat the lentils.

Her Kita tells me they don’t have this problem with her. They tell me she is ravenous most days, devours two or three bowls of whatever food is put in front of her, white or green, split peas or potatoes with sour cream, no questions asked. She has her preferences, they say, but she never doesn’t eat.

There are foods that she will eat there that she won’t eat at home. Eggs, for one. Cheese, too. She won’t eat those at home because I don’t eat them, so inadvertently, even as I am encouraging her to eat them because I know she likes them, she never sees me eat them and so she simply won’t either. She is the definition of a social eater — munching potato chips and fried eggs with Grandpa, putting bananas in her cereal with Grandma, ordering pepperoni on her pizza when her best guy friend does (picking it off as soon as it arrives because, as she says, it’s disgusting).

The Kita also tells me that she is ridiculously hard-headed and I know this well. She takes after me. I was the kid whose parents said I could not leave the table until my plate of venison stroganoff was picked clean and I did not leave the goddamned table until bedtime. I’d rather suffer starvation than eat deer meat.

Apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and the Diva, she employs this hard-headedness at the dinner table with me often. Kid some days will.not.eat. She will go to bed hungry and wake up at two a.m. with belly aches because she went to bed without eating after throwing a tantrum about not being able to chocolate before dinner and then refusing anything, even a broetchen, out of spite toward her big, mean mommy.

These occasions are blessedly rare but they do have me wondering, worrying, about her health. Not in a physical way, but an emotional one. What eating disorder am I setting this kid up for? The one in which she eats whatever she wants for emotional gratification? Or the one in which she tries so hard to control what she puts in her body that nothing goes into it?

Our pediatrician says this worry is normal, that toddlers go through growth spurts in which they eat loads followed by phases in which they eat nothing. The doctor is from Ethiopia and she reminds me, when I ask with worry, that she has seen starvation and this little Diva of mine is far from suffering it.

Still, I wonder, what do we moms of Divas do? How do we handle these eating “requests” without turning them into issues?

Christmas Sucks

The first time I ever had a panic attack, I was 13 years old, my parents were newly separated, and I was laying on the couch, staring at the Christmas tree. I didn’t know that what was happening was a panic attack and took it at mystical face value: these racing thoughts about death and dying meant I was having premonitions of my own death. My world went black except for the Christmas lights and I couldn’t breathe.

Xmas Bikes

As an adult, I can recognize this for what it was: mourning the loss of my family. But at the time, I was certain I was going to die. And after that, Christmas became zero fun.

It’s pretty standard that you hear kids of divorce have difficulties at Christmas. The family’s split and you either get two super-duper fun and exciting present-opening days or you get two god-this-is-torture present-opening days. I chose neither. Stopped celebrating Christmas. Or at least I tried to.

I went snowboarding or traveled cross-country (or both) just so I could avoid the awkwardness of a holiday that meant nothing to me. So that my poor parents wouldn’t have to buy me presents I didn’t want and vice versa. So that I wouldn’t be around to witness all the damned arguing that goes along with my extended family being in the same room at once.

Avoidance. My coping skill.

My ex generally tolerated this … frugal bastard he was, he didn’t mind not having to buy me gifts. Or all the expensive decorations that would’ve gotten trashed in our myriad moves. He even got a trip to Turkey out of the deal. His parents hated it, though, so every so often, we would fly to see them and sit around eating red-and-green pepper salad and they would gift me with cookware that I had no intention of using (but the ex certainly made use of, god bless his housewifery intentions). And every year, I would say, well, that’s it: Christmas sucks and I’m not doing it again.

And then the Diva came along and I started to feel some sense of obligation to her. Her first and second Christmases were spent in California, looking at seals and hiking in the rain. We were avoiding the traditional holiday fetes but hadn’t yet figured out what we were going to replace them with. It worked because she was too young to understand.

But then her dad and I weren’t together and her third Christmas, he was demanding it be celebrated. He didn’t care how. Just that it would be. This worked a little because she was at kita and they did all the German Christmas things: St. Nick came to visit, and there was an Advent calendar tree, and they learned to sing songs in German and put on a pageant. My parents came to see us and brought a suitcase full of presents and we went to the petting zoo and generally made it out to be just another day, except the grandparents were there and it was fun.

It was enough fun that I thought maybe we should do it again this year. Except that I didn’t want to sit around in rainy Germany and I didn’t want to spend a shit-ton of money to fly to the middle of nowhere and go stir crazy at my parents’, where the only escape was to the corner bar, where I would likely run into people I never wanted to see after I left town at the age of 18. So I decided we’d fly to Lake Tahoe and I could rent a cabin in the woods and go cliff jumping and cross some things off my to-do list for the year. How selfish of me.

sleddingWith six feet of snow in three days, the babe got a real taste of white Christmas. She’s been ice skating and sledding. Put a hat on a snowman. Built a snow fort. Trekked through snow piles taller than her. I’ve been snowboarding and some day soon, we’ll teach her how to ski.

But nothing else about this Christmas worked and so I have my doubts about doing it again. I forgot about family dynamics. About how when my family is together, we all revert into the roles we took on when I was younger, a role I’m not comfortable with anymore. About how each of us is a human with our own desires and needs and way of doing things and these wants are not at all compatible. My family couldn’t stop bickering. No one could do anything right in the others’ minds. I was miserable and everyone, Diva included, knew this.

At some point, I thought her excitement about the magic of the holiday might rub off on me. Instead, the family dynamic I moved far away to escape turned me into an unbearable beast. The six feet of snow stressed my parents out. The kid found her Christmas presents before Santa arrived so she doesn’t believe in some magical fairy tale dude (who she was doubtful about anyway when we told her, no, he didn’t fly in an airplane but in a sleigh with reindeer). So much for Christmas magic.

The thing is, as I think about what to do with her next year, there are two things in the back of my mind: 1. The need for third culture kids to have a firm family foundation and traditions, and 2. The need for my kid to grow up knowing love and tolerance. Right now, I feel like these two things are mutually exclusive. And I need to find a way to reconcile that they aren’t and give her what she needs. I just don’t know if that’s going to include Christmas with me and a tree.

 

Training Divas, Or How to Not Give a Kid an Eating Disorder

Just got back from Copenhagen Fashion Week and it seems the accessory du jour is a mini-Diva. I’d seen a couple crawling around in the tent at Berlin Fashion Week but in Copenhagen, the kids get front row.

 

Of course I was sad to not have brought my own Diva in Training along, but I do wonder what effect seeing half-naked ladies would have on her developing toddlers’ mind. She’s a pretty confident kid, not *really* aware of body shapes yet but as one pediatrician told me, as a mom you have to be careful to not give the kid your own eating disorder.

And we *all* have disordered eating in some way. My disorder includes gorging on chocolate and not eating meat. Diva in Training has picked up the same awful eating habits I have (which also include forgetting to eat lunch until I’m cranky as fuck) so since that battle already seems to be lost I’m conscious to not pass along my disordered view of myself to her. I don’t inspect my body in front of her and don’t let anyone talk about how skinny or fat she is (she is thin as a rail and I hate that people would make a note of that when she is only three — she has no idea what that means, people! None!). Nor do I want her pinching the fat on her tummy at this age or in the future.

This in mind, I think it might actually be a good thing to bring the kid to a fashion show (so long as it’s fashion Lite and not the hard core Avant-Garde shit). The girls on the runway are so alien-looking (and often painted purple or green to boot) that when you see them in real life it’s like looking at a coat hanger and not a human being. Sad, but you can concentrate on the clothes better that way, and at least in real life, there’s no morphing through airbrushing.

My bigger fear with bringing her to the shows now that I know what they’re like (not at all like in the glossies) would be what kind of insane outfit ideas she’d come up with afterward. She’s at the age where she dresses herself and is very particular about what goes on her body (tool belt with tutu, anyone?) and she gets inspired a lot by the people around her. Like when we were up at the park a few weeks back and ran into a crowd of Goths heading to a concert. One woman was wearing a very short skirt with no underwear, so Diva stopped in her tracks and whipped her unders off, too. Try explaining why that’s not cool to a three-year-old. It’s a very awkward conversation, let me tell you, especially when kid points to the lady in question’s bits. That experience plus my reluctance to already be denying her feather boas and knee-high boots at this young an age means she’ll be sitting Fashion Week out for a while yet. Now I just gotta keep her from crawling on my lap while sorting through pictures.