There is this girl at kindy…
I am pretty sure her mother – and the little girl herself – often hears, and has come to expect to hear, that she is “just gorgeous/so pretty/darn cute“: Big blue eyes in a doll’s face, framed by honey coloured hair, dressed in lovely dresses or frilly, girly pants. She usually sits close somewhere on the floor, close to where my boy plays at the end of the day, when there is only a handful of them left.
Because that’s when I finally rush in after what is either my totally lazy or my super busy day (we are only doing 2 days of day-care for Tornado and sometimes I just need a rest, on others, I need to get stuff done). So I am often a little bit unkempt, in training pants and some dirty sweater, might have the dogthing in the car after a quick stroll or am kind of late because I was too busy procrastinating to avoid any public appearance i.e. go to the shops. And I certainly wear no makeup to pick up my sweaty loud boy, with paint in his hair and his shoes full of sand.
Indeed, all the other kids display signs of wear and tear from the day’s activities, but this girl always looks immaculate, at any time of the day. While I stumble along gathering Tornados things from the fridge, the locker and maybe outside, she will stop playing and stare at me. I ask Tornado the usual questions and see from the angle of my eye how she just sits there. Sits and stares. I noticed this going on for a while. No, I am not imagining it. She looks at me like I am some weird, but not scary, exotic animal.
I don’t even know her name because Tornado always confuses the few girls in his group while he seems to know exactly all the boys. He’s just that age. Actually, only recently, there is a girl coming up in his stories from kindy, he might just develop a little crush, but that’s another story.
But hey, I am not paranoid, I just knew, this girl had something coming for me. And a few days ago she actually spoke to me.
She just said : “You look like a boy. “
Well there, thank you, you dumb little brat! There you sit, obviously predestined to grow up into the Australian version of the top cheerleader, the pretty beach babe next door, the one they will all envy, follow and court. You are the miniature version of what will make a lot of average, and especially the less than average looking young girls very unhappy just by being how you are, so there is really no need to already practice your subtle ways of bullying now with me who -thank god – has made it almost undamaged through high school where a similar type of natural blonde beauties reigned supreme.
I was just speechless for a moment.
Now I am not exactly the androgynous type – I am small but not petite, I have curves, D-cup boobs , and when I wear one of my little dresses and don the baby janes, I know from reliable sources, that I am kind of ‘hawt’! In my category, of course, at almost 40 and graced with what was bad about both, my mom’s and my dad’s nose. But hell, I even have a polka dot dress and yes, I feel like Gina frickin’ Lollobrigida in it! .. At least, on a good day.
So what I really felt like saying was “Wow little Miss Kindy, I am so pleased to see my own prejudices confirmed. I can just fancy your Barbie mom, some sort of redneck trapped in her mutant body with the face of an angel and a devils mind, bringing you up with strictly defined feminine stereotypes. Hey, as long as it all looks cute & pink, right ? Well, here’s a scoop : Women come in all forms and shapes and some actually chose a different look than what the mainstream media show us everyday. It doesn’t make them less a woman, probably actually more, as she assumes her own personality that way, do you know what I mean? If glasses, short hair and no make up is already now something you can’t quite fathom on a woman, then be prepared for a few surprises when you grow up and get out of this suburb or quickly find yourself a Stepford husband and never leave your pretty big house.”
Alternatively, I could have just thrown her a few obscenities into her inquisitive, still lovely, little face.
But uhm, stop, this was kindy, right, and we are talking about a 4 year old ! That statement might have been the simple observation of an innocent mind, admittedly displaying a lack of stimuli and visual experiences. So for some this might sound like the words of one paranoid bitch with very low self-esteem. And of course, the immediate problem I had with her remark is probably more likely the result of years of severe domestic bullying, because back in school I was actually very happy to be one of the punks and outcasts in a high school full of pretty rich posers. I already had that nose, back then.
So no, I said nothing, just stared back.
And this is when my little knight in shining armour steps in and he says :
“That’s MY MOM! She’s not a boy! You’re so SILLY!”
That’s my boy!
Yes, silly girl… Both of us.
Has any of your kid’s friends ever thrown you off balance in a way that you feel a bit embarrassed to talk about it to other grown-ups? Or did you have to refrain (or : couldn’t!) to get angry at a child who, obviously only reflected the narrow mindedness of their parents ? Am I over-reacting or do you agree that children aged 4 should actually not yet have formed, rigid ideas about how people have to look, act or dress. I believe that’s what starts them off or makes them receptive to racism, homophobia, religious intolerance and other dangerous bigotries.