Thursday, November 02, 2006

On the Job Training: Motherhood - Halloween Badmash (Part 2)

I had posted the comic below because it reminded me of Halloween when I was 5 or 6. My parents were working-class Indian immigrants and didn't really understand the importance of Halloween to a child. My mom took me trick-or-treating in a chanya-choli, as an "Indian girl." I wanted the Cinderella mask and costume but that was an unnecessary expense in her eyes.

In later years, my siblings and I were creative and made our own costumes from household items - hobos, gypsies, clowns and even a Greek goddess (I was a mythology fanatic when I was 12). We've always loved dressing up for Halloween and even did it in college. My friends and I trick-or-treated in the dorm and ended up with half a bag of chips and beer.

Anyway, we're having fun with my daughter, Bubli, who loves to dress up no matter what. (It's Saturday 2:30 p.m., time to put on a poofy dress.) So, just about every Halloween, she ends up with 2-3 costumes such as a princess, a cat, or Minnie Mouse.

This year, we talked about being a fairy and a Barbie princess. When we bought her the doll last year for Christmas, they gave a free costume, which I hid it until now. The dress was identical to the doll's, so she was thrilled. Her eyes widened when I showed it to her it was reversible.

For her fairy costume, she has a lovely dress from her ballet recital. It's olive green, small flowers and embroidery on the bodice and a soft skirt. It reminded me of a wood nymph or a fairy if she wore wings, which she already has. I mentioned the idea to other ballet moms and they said, "Wow. You're right. It does look like a fairy dress!" I had bought a Dollar Store a wand, so it would be something new. This probably won't fit her again so she should wear it this year. I'm done with my costume planning. Or so I thought.

Well, she wore her Princess dress to the Halloween party/parades at her morning and afternoon KG schools.

On Monday morning before school, we talked about her Fairy costume for trick or treating. However, she refused to wear the ballet dress.

"It's green. I'm not going to be the green fairy. I'm not going to be the yellow fairy. I'm not going to be the blue fairy. I want to be pink fairy!"

I pulled out the wings she had. "Those are butterfly wings! They're not fairy wings." (Oh, I had no idea.) I suggested we decorate the wings with glitter and gems. She paused. Then continued.

I showed her the wand. "Fairies don't have wands. Only Tinkerbell does." (Oh, so they just do magic without a wand?)

So, I suggested she be Tinkerbell! She has a green dress, a wand and I can put her hair up. "She's ugly. Fairytopia has long pink hair."

She proceeded with a meltdown and I was really mad now. I told her she would have to be "Indian Girl" if she didn't stop this behavior. I'm not going to buy a whole costume, but just wings if she wears the green dress. She was really mad at me and didn't even say good bye to me when she got on the bus.

Just a disclaimer here - in spite of the tantrums, Bubli is really a good girl. She's not a whiny or overindulged child, though she has her moments. However, she is a very strong and independent girl. Since she was 2 years old, the daycare had told me that Bubli knows exactly what she wants. I thought it was average stubborn toddler behavior, but they told me she has a different personality. She definitely has to want to do something, you can't force her. This applies to eating, taking a bath or getting dressed.

Anyway, I was asking a five-year-old to make compromises. I should have managed her expectations earlier - she had told everyone she would be Fairytopia and figured it was a store-bought costume when I never intended it to be.

I went to Target at lunchtime just to check this Fairy business. I saw she was right. Fairytopia wings are different. However, I wasn't going to spend $25 (sale price, $35 orig) on a costume she would wear at night. For the record, the green ballet dress cost me $40 and was better quality.

So, I found another pair of fairy wings and some cute tights she could wear again. Fairy wings, by the way, have glitter and flowers and butterfly wings don't. My friend suggested I give her the wings by acknowledging positive behavior rather than the tantrum. For example, "You were very good this evening by listening to mommy and daddy."

That evening, we did not talk about the costumes and continued our routine as usual. I was cooking while she played her Reader Rabbit games on the computer.

As we were getting ready for bed, I asked her if she still wanted to be the fairy or just be Princess for trick-or-treating.

"Mommy, I'm not going to wear the green dress," she said quietly. "I'm going to wear an old pink dress and we can decorate it." This was one of my earlier suggestions.

I was surprised at how calmly she stated her position. She knew what she wanted and defined her stance. She would compromise on the pink dress, but was not going to bend on the green. I felt like I learned something about the art of negotiation from her.

"That's a great idea. I'll give you fairy wings and something special for your hair." I had some purple and pink hair extensions from a Dollar Store once. Again, I had tucked it away and took it out for the big reveal. She was in awe. We picked out special glittery tattoos.

So, Tuesday was Halloween. My work encouraged people to wear costumes for our Halloween party. I don't care to wear costumes to work, so I wore black turtleneck and pants. I asked Bubli if I should wear her butterfly wings. She was thrilled.

"Here let me help you. You helped me get ready. Now I can help you," she said holding the wings for me. "Oh, you look pretty!" (Really? Is the power of wings that strong to turn ordinary working mom into a magical butterfly? Does the cosmetic industry know about this?)

That night we got ready to go trick-or-treating with friends. I showed her the wings and she loved them. I suggested two pink party dresses and she chose the best one. It was white silk bodice with pink silk skirt and tulle overlay. There was a flower at the waist that matched the flower on the wings. I always thought it looked like a Princess dress. Now, it was a fairy dress.

I put the pink and purple thing in her hair, glitter on her face, gave her rosy cheeks and lips. She looked gorgeous! Running through the neighborhood, she looked like a little fairy. She is also a little charmer and chatted with the hosts at every house. She showed off her wings and glitter.

Anyway, it all ended well, but it was a day of anxiety for me, especially when she didn't say good bye to me on the bus. I suppose there will be many, many more power struggles ahead.

I was happier that she got into the spirit of creating your own look. By the way, she mentioned that next year she wants to be Mermaidia (Apparently, the fairies in Fairytopia turn into Mermaids.) I am checking the clearance tables now!

Side note: The pictures of the Fairies in this blog are by Cicely M. Barker. We have her pictures from a Flower Fairy Alphabet and listen to the CD as bedtime music. For me, I enjoy the poetry and for Bubli, it sets the perfect music for dreams.

7 comments:

prope//er said...

Nice writeup and well laid out.

"Since she was 2 years old, the daycare had told me that Bubli knows exactly what she wants. I thought it was average stubborn toddler behavior, but they told me she has a different personality."
---> You think kids at that age have personalities? Is this also along the lines of "let's treat kids like adults?" theme?

Indigo said...

LOL - "You think kids at that age
have personalities?"

Spoken like a true single person sans kids!!

You know, I once commented to someone how 6 months is a nice age for babies cuz they have a personality then. She (a grandmother) rolled her eyes at me. When my daughter was born, I was surprised on Day 2 I could see a personality - bit of attitude.

Yes, Prop, there really is a personality at 2. In fact, my girl was picking out her own clothes at 2. We had fights in the morning about what to wear. I was embarrassed when I went shopping with her - I would ask her if she liked something before I bought it (I'm not buying something she's not gonna wear).

No, it's not treating them like adults. But, acknowledging they have choices and helping them with that.

prope//er said...

"I was surprised on Day 2 I could see a personality - bit of attitude"

Now c'mon, you are kidding right? How would you know? By the way they kick their hands and legs? What next? Personality of kids when you are still pregnant? Speaking of pregnancy, it is insane that women have an entire ecosystem in their bodies! Never ceases to amaze me. Very X-Files like if you ask me.

Indigo said...

Prop - your two points
1. the personality when they're born is obviously subtle, but evident. Everyone would comment on how "alert" my daughter was and she always had to see what was going on. (Still the case). My friend's baby is seen as very cranky (refuses to go to people). If you try to touch her, she snaps at you. However, she'll approach you on her own terms. She's been like this since she was born (my friend was panicky b/c the baby would cry when her MIL picked her up and didn't want her MIL to think she was training her to do that :-)

They've done studies on this how certain aspects of personality (shyness, fearfulness) are displayed in babyhood.

2. Yes, pregnancy is weird as anything!! Since you're talking about X-files, I felt very "unnatural" being pregnant. It's not "normal" to walk around with a human being in your abdomen! I felt like there are 3 human species - men, women and pregnant women. The body changes so much I didn't feel like other women.

However, I think childbirth is probably one reason why women tend to be more religious. When my baby was born, I was amazed. *I* didn't do anything (I took my vitamins and tried not to run after the train). This wonderful creature was made by a higher power. (I make muffins. I create poems. *I* did not do this!) I was just a vessel, chosen to do the pushing. There's a Khalil Gibran poem about children how they come "through" you. I definitely feel that way.

prope//er said...

1. the personality when they're born is obviously subtle, but evident. Everyone would comment on how "alert" my daughter was and she always had to see what was going on. (Still the case). My friend's baby is seen as very cranky (refuses to go to people). If you try to touch her, she snaps at you. However, she'll approach you on her own terms. She's been like this since she was born (my friend was panicky b/c the baby would cry when her MIL picked her up and didn't want her MIL to think she was training her to do that :-)

---> Milady, babies can't see anything for a few weeks after they are born. They initially see contours, then they see blurred shapes in black and white and slowly over time, the neural networks build up and they see color, then the sharpness increases. So this alertness of a new infant is simply natural and may not have anything with visibility. Scientists still have no clue how the brain develops in infants but they are working on it.

They've done studies on this how certain aspects of personality (shyness, fearfulness) are displayed in babyhood.

---> *new word learnt today: babyhood*

However, I think childbirth is probably one reason why women tend to be more religious. When my baby was born, I was amazed. *I* didn't do anything

---> Please don't act all innocent. You had a part in this hanky-panky. C'mon now.

Indigo said...

"---> Please don't act all innocent. You had a part in this hanky-panky. C'mon now."

hey, hanky-panky teek hai. I know that! :-)

But, it's not like I'm sitting here, 'Hmm..I think we should make sure the kidney grows larger today. Is it time for the nails to grow in? Yes it is."

It's all on cruise control.

prope//er said...

hey, hanky-panky teek hai. I know that! :-)
--> Sorry, couldn't resist, the *I* didn't do anything part was too compelling.

later
//