Isabella at 4 and a Half

Not a week goes by without someone commenting on how much Isabella looks like me.

We have the same facial shape, the same eyes, the same (unfortunately thin and limp) hair, and until I recently chopped mine off, a similar hairstyle.

The older she gets, the more apparent the similarities are becoming.

And the older she gets, the more I enjoy motherhood. Of course, all ages have their special qualities (just please don't ask me to name any special qualities about the age of two right now), but (dare I say it), parenting Isabella right now is fairly easy.

The kid loves her routine. Take away her morning viewing of The Fresh Beat Band or her CocoPop after dinner and her head is likely to spin around while vomit spews forth from her lips, but in general, I can reason with her. She is (mostly) kind and gentle with her brother and sister. She says sweet things like, "I love you to the moon and back" and "Thank you for making this delicious dinner, mommy."

I have no problem admitting that I enjoy parenting her much more at this age than I did when she was younger. Some people are baby people.

I am not baby people.

Shocking, to those who regularly read here. I know.

Isabella has developed some new interests. After 4.5 years of having zero interest in her clothes, she now wants to pick them out every day. And every day, she wants to wear a skirt or a dress, which coming from a little girl who is not girly, I find this new passion disconcerting.

Having recently finished Cinderella Ate My Daughter, I am now more aware than ever about her developing self-image, and I've asked her why she wants to wear just skirts and dresses. Her reply, "Because I look pretty in them."

(Head hits desk.)

I have made it a point to tell her that she looks beautiful or pretty no matter what she wears. In her pjs. In jeans and a tshirt. Covered with paint from one of her many ongoing art projects. I do not want her to believe that beauty is only tied to what she wears or looks like.

And I'm wondering where her belief that it is even came from. She does not watch commercial tv. She hasn't had exposure to the Disney princesses. So, where?

She recently finished her 10-week "Clay Play" class at my city's art gallery, which she adored. This summer, she wants to take a drawing class there, and I plan on enrolling her. Her summer schedule will hopefully be a busy one again this year, as she'll take more mini camps at our science museum, swimming lessons, a two-week camp at her preschool, and possibly one more camp, which focuses on multiculturalism.

Speaking of the science museum, we visited an awesome new dinosaur exhibit there a few weeks ago. Gigantic, animatronic, roaring dinosaurs, and (Isabella's favorite), dinosaur babies hatching from eggs. She was in her glory.

Next week, I'll register her for Kindergarten, and I'm wondering if at some point I'll begin to feel those pangs most mothers feel about their oldest going off to real school. But right now, I am so excited for her. I am very lucky to have a child who loves school. I think she will thrive in her new environment and I don't feel sad that she won't be around as much as she is right now (although since it's half-day Kindergarten, she'll only be in school 30 minutes more a week than she's in preschool each week now, but the bus ride will add extra time to her day) because where she's headed is going to be so much more fun than what I can do for her at home.
Hopefully, they'll allow her to build drag queen snowmen with glittered and painted rocks during recess.

Current Likes: Twin coercion, fashion, and building forts in the living room

Current Dislikes: Sleeping past 6:30am.

6 Responses to “Isabella at 4 and a Half”

  1. # Blogger M

    Loved reading this! :) Madelyn is very much the same these days-- all about coming home from school and putting on a skirt or dress. Perhaps it's just the age? I'm okay with the whole girly thing because I'm 100% girly girl. Not one ounce of tomboy in me. Not proud of that...just sayin'.

  2. # Blogger kimberly

    great post. It's been forever since I've checked in on what you are up to, but it's awesome to hear that, for you at least, older is better. I haven't read the book, but am thinking I should. amazingly thoughtful parenting!  

  3. # Anonymous Ness at Drovers Run

    I totally understand your view point right now. My 5yr old boy has just become the *pinnacle* of sweetness, good manners and helpfulness. Of course this may only be a case of perspective since his 2 (3 in just 2 weeks) year old little brother, has become a screeching, screaming, raging, ranting, freaking, demanding little imperial doosh. I have the sneaking suspicion that when the imperial doosh has mastered potty training (finally) and stops with the screaming, demanding, loud demonstrations of NO!, I may just have the opening scene from the sound of music burst out of me, and very possibly in the middle of the supermarket or somewhere else equally public.  

  4. # Anonymous Kell

    I won't sweat the dress/skirt thing Joss has done that since 2 and she is just as tom boyish as the next tom by ;-), she may insist on a dress but it will soon be covered in mud as she tackles her brother. Pretty is as pretty does... and we all have things that make us feel 'pretty' kids are no different and we all try on different ways of being 'pretty'.

    I also think there is a danger in subjugating all that is feminine to things neutral or masculine. While we try to keep our girls from falling into the trap of traditional roles we may be sending the message that being female or feminine is somehow inferior and undesirable. Just something I have been thinking about.... maybe I am more sensitive to this as I have a 'pink collar' job...  

  5. # Blogger Kristi

    Michelle-I find the whole 4-year-old-girl obsession with dresses thing fascinating.

    Kimberly-Check out the book. It's such an important read for parents of young daughters. Thanks for stopping by!

    Ness-I will sing right along with you when L and N are potty trained!

    Kell-That's comforting to hear. I have no problem with Isabella embracing the feminine, even though I'm not very girly myself and have pretty much always worked in male-dominated fields (at my last FT job, I was one of only 4 women in the entire office).

    But I just fear her deriving her self-worth from looking a certain way or dressing a certain way-craving praise for the way she looks as opposed to things she's accomplished.

    I love buying girls clothes way more than I enjoy buying clothes for Nicholas. I love all the cute dresses for little girls, and she has plenty of them. If she said she wanted to wear them because they're flowing and have a twirl-factor? Fine. But I fear the "I need to wear a dress to be pretty" stuff.  

  6. # Blogger Melissa

    Both my girls have had (or currently have) a dress/skirt obsession. I remember Hannah, at 12 months, latching onto a dress at Target and screeching like a banshee when I tried to take it away. It wasn't until she was about nine that she decided wearing jeans wasn't all that bad and more practical to play in. I let Hannah wear some makeup (very neutral colors) to school, and of course Bea loves her lip gloss and nail polish. They say they like to look pretty, but I think feeling pretty also makes them feel good about themselves. I know I feel better about myself when I get dolled up a little. I think I've done a good job of driving the message home to my kids that their self-worth is not related to what they look like or the clothes they wear, but they are going to like what they like, and they happen to like "pretty" and "cool" clothes.

    Isabella sure is growing up! Kindergarten is a big step, but she will do a great job and have so much fun. :-D  

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