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Imagination Girl – Play is easy at the Toddler Stage!

It’s official. My daughter is now a toddler — and worse, a toddler GIRL. From several tidbits of research I have, the whole toddler stage was manufactured by the clothing industry before it even was a child development stage.

It’s an odd and wonderful stage because she’s not a baby, and she’s not a pre-schooler. Everything is a discovery. Words, splashing water, facial expressions — all are new things she can do!

For me, the market researcher using my daughter as a guinea pig, this is fascinating.

Imagination sets her into incredible play time. The baby “rings” she once enjoyed only months ago are now bracelets. While the play clothes — hats, crowns, wings, tutus — we’ve collected from various $1 bins at Target, sales at Toys R Us and consignment stores become dance routines or something to show daddy who will exclaim “YAY, YOU!” I guess what I’m saying is that this is such a fun stage that I hope will continue, but know it won’t.

On Tuesday, I went with a girlfriend who has a very precocious 4-year old (only 2 years and some months older than our daughter) obsessed with princesses (from mostly Disney movies) to hear a fellow Minnesota native and one of my favorite authors on women & growing up with a strong sense of self — Peggy Orenstein. Peggy’s new book “Cinderella Ate My Daughter” discusses what happens to girls just a few years older than my daughter who can be wrongly influenced by the “Princess Culture” if not shown new ways of looking at these fairy tales (It was just published this Tuesday and is on its way from Amazon.com hopefully today, so my synopsis will have more dearth when I get to read the book).

After hearing Peggy discuss her book’s topic at the reading in Connecticut with some of the other moms of older daughters, it seems like this “Imagination Girl” stage is one I want to continue to foster as long as my husband and I can. A stage where girls can do whatever boys can. Princesses are strong and equals to their princes. Dressing up is only to become something in their imagination. Helping her choose the right princess to admire may need to come in later on though because it was hard to hear the mother whose 7 year old daughter admires Lady Gaga. Oy, I sure hope that isn’t my daughter in 5-1/2 more years. But, I will encourage her imagination however it manifests itself, guiding her to good strong female role models.

Meanwhile, her father is one fabulous male role model for a little girl. Her father (my fabulous husband) is an amazing guitar player who fosters a wonderful fascination with music. He plays for her as she dances and some times strums with him. The fun result of which was shown last week in Minnesota with family when she aptly picked up my niece’s drum sticks and played decent sounds on her drum set!

We will try our hardest to encourage the good things from princess stories, give her gender neutral stories where girls can do anything boys can, music that is fun to hear and foster this great imagination from her coloring, dancing and singing.

But, I know that some day soon, she will see an older girl proudly displaying a logo-ed princess story either in a costume or other toy, be told she has to be the princess and not the prince or strong, soldier who saves the day. Or worst, be told by a boy that she can’t play trucks with him because she’s a girl.

For now, we’re so happy that she’s “Imagination Girl” playing happily with our Gladware and plastic spoons as she is with her lace-up kit I bought for way too much money because it’s a great colorful thing from Melissa & Doug that’s “developmentally appropriate.”

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January 27, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment