“Mummy, I want my hair cut short like a boy.”
This is a conversation we have often in our PDA house.
I have tried to explain (on many occasions) that there should be no gender stereotypes and that boys can also have long hair and equally girls can have short crops.
It falls on deaf ears as she looks at me intently like I’m talking a foreign language.
I’m sure I’m waffling on right now about Mowgli from the Jungle Book being a boy even though his hair was long.
No answer: the non-forgiving stare continues and I can feel my anxiety meter working overdrive already.
I know I need to hold back right now, allow some processing time, but I don’t give my tongue a chance to catch up with my hectic brain.
Yep, you guessed it, I’ve made the mistake to go into verbal diarrhoea mode – I do this often when I try to distract from the forever-imposing meltdowns that take their course. Actually I do it a lot when I’m nervous or in panic mode.
Mummy should be listening, mummy should be using empathy…mummy needs to sync her own dials.
“Blah, blah, blah,” she says, “that’s what adults do!”
And she’s damn right!
I’m so badly on my one way track analysing the what ifs … you know the what if she gets it all cut off then wants it back again? What if other children say mean things? What if tomorrow, like she often does, she rampages through the wardrobe in hot pursuit of a dress and says she wants to go back to just being a girl? What do I do about her shaved hair when she likes her customary plait in the next day?
Ahhhh…. I’m going into meltdown and it’s not EVEN reached 6am on a Saturday morning!
I take a moment to reflect and hold my impulse to talk anymore.
I have baby sister on my lap and five year old sibling building a tower in the same room and I can’t afford to not play my cards right.
She looks around the bedroom, “Oh no!” She screams as if she’s just seen a tsunami on the horizon, “I don’t like pink!!!”
She calms herself, “we have to change it to a boys colour and get rid of that name sign on the door. It’s got flowers and butterflies they’re yucky.”
The rant continues at full speed.
“I’ll need to change my name too. Can it be Jack? Jack….Dawson?”
I continue playing with her two siblings as her fantasy excitedly unfolds.
“Mummy, you have to teach me how to write Jack…it wouldn’t look right if I couldn’t spell my own name.”
She sounds out loud the J then the A and then the CK, “so is that a kicking ker at the end or a curly cur?”
“It’s both,” I say, “you know the special friends that go together.”
She proceeds to study the sign on the door, “we need to take that down and put Jack there instead.”
I’m momentarily distracted as baby jumps off my lap and knocks down sibling’s block tower thinking it’s a game.
At five years old sibling has become attuned to not reacting like other kids her age would do. As always, this fills me with both pride and deep sadness.
“Can we paint the room blue?” continues the PDAer “It’s pink, I hate pink!”
Sibling pipes up at last, she’s probably feeling a bit frustrated after having to hold it in for so long. I can hear it in her voice tone as she says “well I like pink!”
I step in to avoid putting out the fire before it even ignites “pink is nice,” I reassure her, “but so is purple and blue or green. They are all nice, remember they all make up a rainbow.”
PDAer interjects as usual “well I like black.”
“Well yes,” I soften, “black is a good colour too.”
“There’s no black!” she screams, “where are the dark colours in a rainbow?!”
I couldn’t really answer the question, after all, in her perceived sense of reality the injustice that there are no dark colours to choose in a rainbow is quite justified.
I’m sure my daughter often feels very black in an overly colourful, noisy and complicated world.
I really, really hope she doesn’t ask to paint the room black!