Steve has been out of town for the last few days (he comes back tonight!) so we three girls have been making sure to keep the days full and not drive each other nuts while he's gone. We were lucky to have had BEAUTIFUL weather so yesterday when Anna begged to "pway!"and we still had two hours before dinner, I decided to take the girls to the park for some fresh air and exercise.
Anna was on her usual merry-go-round of seesaw, sand, slide, swings (rinse and repeat), and I was watching the other kids play. There were a few older kids there, which was unusual for that playground, so naturally they attracted my attention. Two 6th grade girls in particular caught my eye, and I watched them in full mommy-judgment mode (hey, nobody's perfect, lol). One of the girls was straight out of the movie Mean Girls and seriously guys, she was a little snot. She was being nasty and bossy to her friend, gossiping about her classmates, preening for the high school lacrosse team that was practicing on the field right next to the playground, and wearing a shirt that showed at least 3 inches of bare belly. She looked SO young and I was appalled to realize that her mother was sitting on one of the playground benches and not doing anything about the way her daughter was acting.
Well, Anna's new favorite thing on the playground is to play on the big girl swings, so we are happily swinging away and the two 6th graders come over to the swings next to us. Anna stops what she's doing to watch the girls and she is completely entranced by them. I am a little alarmed that she is watching this girl be such a snot to her friend, and then the girls leave. Anna watches them walk away, and then immediately jumps off her swing, runs over to the swing that the girl had been sitting on, and says "This one!! This one!"
Oh.....My.....God. I am sitting here being so judgmental about this girl and then my 2 year old wants to be just like her. I had a full-out panic moment at the thought of Anna wanting to emulate that behavior. I panicked at the thought of her being in middle school and wanting to dress like that and act like that. I guess I never fully appreciated the fact that all of the little girls in our neighborhood are polite and friendly and appropriately dressed, and I forgot how snotty little girls could be. But I know that the next few years will be gone in the blink of an eye, Anna will be in school, and I will no longer have total control over what influences she will be exposed to. Please excuse me while I hyperventilate into a paper bag.
Now, I wasn't a total angel growing up. Even though I really was pretty good, I showed my fair share of skin and I'm sure I had my Mean Girls moments. But I also recognize, looking back, dressing that way was an easy way to get attention. I never once had somebody tell me "No". I had low self-esteem and it made me feel better about myself. It was easier to make fun of other girls to fit in instead of doing the right thing and be a friend to everybody. And every single one of those factors are ones that I fervently hope to avoid with my daughters. I know that slow and steady wins the race - that it's the foundation we are building NOW and through the years that will affect how the girls feel about themselves and how they act when they enter those dreaded teenage years. I want them to keep their innocence, I want them to keep the magic of childhood as long as possible. I want them to be confident in themselves so they don't fall into the trap of "fitting in at all costs". I want them to know that they have two parents that love them very much and want them to be successful and happy. I want them to value themselves and to have enough self-worth to demand respect for their minds and for their personalities, not their bodies. I want them to be sweet and kind and respectful to everybody, whether they are considered to be "cool" or not.
I fully acknowledge that this is all 100% in my head. Anna probably only saw "big kids" and wanted to be a big kid on the big kid swing too. But a mother's mind is a beautiful (and crazy) thing and I guess it's a good thing to be aware of these influences now, vs. being caught off guard when it's time for the girls to grow up.
In the meantime, I am currently researching local nunneries and we are going to stick to morning visits to the park!!