"Mom, where's my uterus?"
My six-year-old is very into my pregnancy.
She was into the last one too, but, being less than three, her interest
showed more through play than questions on human anatomy. I puzzled for
weeks over her practice of placing an ornate toy mirror on her mermaid
doll's tiny tummy before realizing the mirror was a Doppler and she was
listening for the heartbeat.
"Hold on," she says, and runs off to fetch the Bearnstain Bears classic "Too Much Junkfood,"
a second-hand find from my brother than includes a doctor's explanation
of why the Bear family needs good food so their bodies can do all the
things they do.
"Show me," she orders, flipping to the
page where Dr. Grizzly shows what bears look like "on the inside." Human
body systems have been a big interest for her these last couple years.
By the time she was five, she would tell you that something had gone
down her trachea instead of her esophagus rather than simply saying it
"went down the wrong pipe." My precision princess prefers to use
I study the illustration of bones
and blood vessels and the large empty space under the intestines; Dr.
Grizzly's left out the reproductive system. I can't say I blame her, my
grade-six teacher skipped that particular unit in health class as well.
The poor man had enough trouble getting through the lower half of
digestion (also absent from the Bearnstain bear). No such qualms for my
little lady - the details of human excretion are currently an infinite
gold mine of mirth. A large amount of our dinner conversations begin
with queries about the end result of only eating a certain kind of food. We discuss the problems of vitamin deficiencies, muscular atrophy, and - when I forget to stop myself - constipation and diarrhea. Five years of potty training has taken its toll on my sense of appropriate topics for the dinner table. It's almost a relief when the talk turns to the life cycle of the mosquito, or the location of volcanoes in Alaska, or how long it takes to get from Edmonton to Moscow.
we're not discussing digestion, or mining my iPhone for pictures of
lava, she's searching for deeper meaning in fairy tales, Disney movies,
episodes of "Strawberry Shortcake". It's incredible how many themes can
pulled from a mere 20 minutes of programming or five pages worth of
continuous text. The intent behind the characters actions, the back
story that fuels their reactions, the reasons why the character most
hungry for power is the one least fit to wield it; between her natural
inquisitiveness and my tendency to ramble, there were hours of
meaningful literary conversation hidden in such unlikely places as the
dance scene in Disney's "Sleeping Beauty" (love-at-first-sight myth,
blown) and "Barbie in A Mermaid's Tale 2" (and that was just the book based on the movie neither of us has seen).
never assumed that my daughter would grow into a princess. I dressed
her in pink outfits and frilly little frocks through her babyhood on the
assumption she'd shun them eventually and I might as well enjoy her
cuteness while I could. She's been picking her own attire for three
years now, and it hasn't happened yet. She still likes her Sunday
finery, and spent her preschool year in skirts and tights, if not in
dresses. She chose pants only twice, and both occasions followed her
overhearing me say that she "never" wore them. Compliment her outfit,
and she'll gladly go into all its details - after all, she picked it out
herself. If you tell her she's a beauty, however, she'll say something
along the lines of "I know" or "well, yes", and then return to whatever
she was discussing before you interrupted to state the obvious. The
princess has heard all that before, but what she really wants to know
right now is the science behind the rainbow.
first half of her life, her toys were as girly as her outfits. The grand
bulk of them were gifts from friends and family, happy to have a baby
girl to spoil. The most control I yielded was in making birthday and
Christmas wish lists, but, beyond a boycotting Bratz and Barbie (and
eventually caving on the latter), I've mostly catered to the interests
she'd already shown, and her own requests soon followed suit. She loved
the princess dresses and fairies and baby dolls she'd received, so,
while the content expanded somewhat as she aged, the themes of her
wish-lists remained pretty pink. Beyond a few of her books and some of
her stuffed animals, the play kitchen, girly-coloured legos, and arts
& crafts were as close as we ever got to unisex.
she got herself a brother, however, I did ask for some "boy" toys, if
for no other reason than to even out the playroom a little. Lo and
behold, my dainty daughter took to trains like a duck to water. And
emergency vehicles. And construction equipment. When my in-laws passed
on my husband's old collection of match-box-size cars and trucks to my
son, she dove right in, eventually claiming half of them as her own. In
true big-sisterly fashion, she lords over her little brother as they
play; whether the medium be dress-up dolls, dinosaurs, or a construction
site, she maintains firm control over the storyline, and corrects any
errors her minion may utter. A tutu is more than just a skirt, and a
bulldozer mustn't be confused for a back-hoe. My princess has grown into
a queen of an ever-expanding toy empire: all the better to apply the
ever-growing knowledge base stuffed in her inquisitive mind.
can't say my observations of daughter and son have led to any solid
theories on gender development. I'm well aware that my case study of two
says as much about their differing ages and personalities as it does
about their sexes. It will be interesting to see how their dynamic
changes once one of them is outnumbered, and what a baby exposed to
equal amounts of "girl" and "boy" toys will chose to play with. I have
no doubts, however, that my daughter, while still very much a princess,
is also so much more, which is why this video gets me teary every time I watch it.
I salute you. But I promise you no engineer. My money's currently on
biology, but we'll see what else she gets into.