Raquel, at just about 15 months, has acquired quite a vocabulary. At first it only seemed as though she could say “Dad-o” which, at the time, didn’t stand for “Dada” which she now clearly says. Then she would say “Bob” which was her word for just about everything. I’ve spent a lot of time translating what “Dad-o” and “Bob” meant on any given day because she would point to “Bob” and “Dad-o” when she said it. Each time it meant something different.
Then she moved on to quite clearly saying “Dad-da” which made my husband very happy. But every time I tried to counter her “Dad-da” with a “Mam-ma” she would say “Dad-da” I think just to spite me. To this day, I’m not sure if she has ever authentically said “Mama”. Sigh.
Now we have moved on to her current word of choice, “Doh!” which means, quite clearly to her and to us, “No!” This word I am shocked to hear coming out of my child’s mouth so soon. Can she be 15 months going on 2? She also has the attitude to boot. To accompany her “Doh”, she swings her little arm in a mini-tirade each time she says it (see video). Got to hand it to her, at least she knows what she wants and doesn’t want for being so young.
My girls are all fiercely independent and while a friend of mine is struggling with her young daughter’s clinginess and irritability, I find myself with the opposite problem. My girls run into preschool sometimes barely looking back. I remember the first time I dropped Olivia off at her current preschool. I pretty much just left and then later I thought about the teacher and what she must have thought about me dropping her off on her first day and then leaving so quickly. But by pick-up she had realized that Olivia was the kind of kid that didn’t need Mom sticking around. She launched head long into the preschool activities and didn’t miss me at all.
It seems as thought my independent daughters are doing just fine. It’s not like they don’t need me, they are still little yet, but I marvel at how they get along just fine without too much interference from me. It is a blessing in disguise as I battle horrible first trimester nausea right now. They manage to stay entertained while I lay on the couch. They usually play long enough to leave me alone while I work through the small amount of guilt I feel for not being able to do everything I normally do with them when I’m not pregnant.
I have wondered about genetics and how much they play a part in predetermining children’s independence. According to my mom, as well as some of my own recollection, I was also very independent. I played down at the park with the neighborhood kids without supervision at age 2. But that was 1979.
Lately, I have been thinking a lot about my girls, their independence, and my influence on them. It was especially on my mind last night as I found myself at a Rihanna concert. Our beloved babysitter won tickets at the Fair and didn’t want to go so she gave us the tickets while she sat for us. We aren’t big fans but we were curious and “hey!” it was a night out for us without the girls, so we leapt at the chance to drive to Oakland to see her.
While there, I thought a lot about my girls. I was shocked by the dress code of some women there and the young ages of some of the attendees. Rihanna is quite young herself at the ripe age of 23 but I did not expect so many young girls. Not to mention the fact Rihanna had quite the revealing wardrobe, spending much time on stage in nothing more than a bright sequined bikini.
I felt so old because there I sat people watching and thinking “there is no way in hell I’m letting my girls come to a concert like this until they are well into their teens and then still maybe not ever”. Rihanna’s wardrobe was one thing, her lyrics and sexual dance moves, quite another. As she performed her song S&M singing, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but chains and whips excite me”, I cringed a little thinking about my daughters singing along to that lyric. I have to be careful as it is playing music in the car with them. I’ve caught them singing lyrics to songs that clearly weren’t meant for preschoolers.
Ultimately, I found Rihanna to be an impressive stage performer. Yeah, she definitely played up her sexuality, but I appreciated her strong female presence and independence. She has become known for speaking her mind and for being a strong role model for young women. The women in attendance both young and old seemed to love her (the men too).
It can definitely be a worry for a mother of girls to think about what kind of women they will become, how they will want to dress, and what kinds of music they will want to listen to. But as it stands, I don’t spend a huge amount of time worrying because I do get to have an influence on them since they are four, three, and 15 months. I plan to continue to be a strong one. I will look forward to helping them make decisions and stepping back when appropriate.
It makes me smile each time little Rocky says “Doh!” to me. I know I am lucky to have such headstrong independent girls. I think of them when I see that bumper sticker, “Well behaved women rarely make history”. Chances are one of the three of them will.