Remember how I complained a few weeks ago that Curious Girl was leaving me out of our dinner blessing ritual, the one she invented? And then I noted a few days ago that things had improved, and I was now regularly mentioned? Apparently CG's enthusiasm for the world has just been growing, and tonight as we held hands at dinner she said something like,
I love mommy, and
I love mama, and
I love myself, and
I love our family,
and I love our kitties,
and Neighbor Girl except I don't like it when she sticks her tongue out at me,
and I love dogs
and all our things
and our house
and all the nice people
and everything in the whole world
I'm forgetting a few things, too, but you get the general idea.
I've been intrigued that she's been saying that she loves herself, both on the grammar front--her first reflexive pronoun--and on the self-image front. Sometimes as she puts her own clips in her hair, making alfalfa sprouts or strange clip angles hanging in front of her eyes, she says "I beautiful like a princess!" (or a fish, she said one day on the weekend). Or she puts on her sweatpants under a dress, colors clashing, and says "I look beautiful!!" She recognizes the Disney princesses, although her exposure to them is limited enough that she gets them all confused (usually calling any of them Cinderella or Barbie). But being a princess is really more a state of mind than it is a girly-girl thing. (CG is quite the girly girl at times, but I'm none-too-secretly pleased that she's likely to want to wear her sneakers with a velvet dress or to go out climbing in the park in a party dress. She doesn't slow down for the fancy clothes she wants to wear.) She announces she's looking like a princess whenever she feels like a princess, and she feels like a princess whenever she likes the way she looks and feels. And that happens often, and it has nothing to do with whether her hair or clothing looks neat or messy, fashionable or traditional, old or new. It has nothing to do with whether she's inside or outside, working on a puzzle, a cooking project, art, or playing pretend.
At these moments, what I wish for her is that some part of her soul, heart, and mind will retain this feeling. When she's a teenager in the midst of her first crush, wondering whether anything will come of it, I want her to know that she's strong and beautiful inside. When she's in the midst of a world pressuring young women's bodies to conform to dominant images, I want her to feel her beauty from the inside out, to be as comfortable moving through the park or the room as she is now, flying from one side of the room to another saying "look at me, Mama!" When she's reading a book, making connections to illustrations based on what seem to me to be the slightest of evidence ("we both have a sweater! we match!"), I want her to remember ways to build empathy and ties to others even when traditional lenses would say there are more differences than samenesses. Her inner princess radiates joy and self-confidence and strength.
I never thought I'd say this, but I hope my daughter will always be a princess.