Sunday 6 September 2009

How do we become who we are?

Alexandria is now FIVE. Again, this blows me away. Anyway, I digress. Since before she was two she’s been into dinosaurs. I don’t know when it started exactly. I don’t even know how her love of all things dino even started. I remember being in England for Michelle and Elliot’s wedding when she was 1 year and 9 months old. She was so excited to be going to the Natural History Museum to see the dinosaurs. She even told the security guard that’s why we were there. Yup. Before she was two she could say dinosaur. She loved them before that and she’s loved them ever since. Still does (remember her birthday cakes from her 4th and 5th birthdays?). She has so many dinosaur t-shirts hanging in her closet. And the reason that’s important is that now they just hang there.

Since she was very little, she’s always been attracted to more “boy” things. Thomas the Tank Engine, Mighty Machines, Disney/Pixar’s Cars. At McDonald’s she would choose the robot or car over the princess (generally). Not that she didn’t like “girl” things. It’s just that her preference was usually the other way.

She started school last year. Junior Kindergarten. (On the first day she wore a dinosaur shirt so “All this kids will know I like dinosaurs.”) She has a wonderful teacher, has made great friends and is learning a lot. On most of the letter days she chose a dinosaur to take. E was Edmontosaurus. A was Allosaurus. V was Velociraptor. And P was Parasaurolophus (her fav) and, I love this one, Pteradon. For the sound “at” she took her Apatasaurus. (How cool is that?).

The reason I’m mentioning all this is that now that she has been in school and now has peers, and therefore peer pressure, she been - for lack of a better word – “girlified”.

She went to a few birthday parties throughout the school year. All the invitations were “princess” or at least, pink and girly in some way. Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with any of that. Throughout the year I noticed her dinosaur shirts were chosen less and less. The outfits she did choose were pink/purple/girly. She started leaning more toward Tinkerbell than Triceratops. More towards ponies than parasaurolophuses. The other day she even said, “I like ponies a little bit more than dinosaurs now. I still like dinosaurs, but I like ponies a bit better.” As my husband said, “That made me kinda sad.” It’s gotten to a point that she doesn’t even want to wear her dinosaur shirts anymore. Not even when we went to see Walking With Dinosaurs last month….

There is a point here somewhere. Whatever she’s drawn to is fine with us (please just don’t let it be hockey… I don’t want to get up early in the morning and freeze in an arena…). We will support any passion she has. If she likes My Little Pony and Littlest Pet Shop, so be it. That’s ok with me. My point, though, is how do we become "ourselves"? How much of who we are is about what our real passions are and how much is really what the world tells us we should be? How much do we really pick up from our peer groups or society? How can we really even tell what is “us” and what is “the world”?

I don’t know. One thing I do know is my little girl has definitely changed since being exposed to an on-going peer circle. (She had no idea who Hannah Montana was until JK...) It’s very interesting to watch. She’s growing. She’s changing. She’s becoming more and more “her” as her personality continually develops. I just don’t know where “her” comes from.


Unknown said...

Another great post. Got me thinking, and made me a little sad. Sad to know that you're probably right - our kids are very much influenced by their peers, especially at this age. My daughters are 5 and 13, and I can reassure you that by 12, my eldest was more about asserting her individuality than about following the herd.

Natalie / ErinMillsLiving

Lisa aka @those2girls said...

You never know. I'm definatley not a TOM BOY (as I don't possess any athlectic abilitly), but I love sports, watch action movies etc. I love doing my hair & wearing makeup, but I don't like to be all sparkley & "overdone"
You never know what the future brings.

Tatiana said...

This post really made me think. I have a little girl too and I want her to feel free to be whoever she wants... to pursue whatever her passions are... not just whatever her peer group enjoys. Sigh.

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