Given Australia now has our first red-headed female Prime Minister in Julia Gillard, I’ve taken a bit of inspiration from our new PM and decided to focus on education today. You see, we’ve started thinking about where Birdy might go to school and it’s really quite a big decision.
We’ll probably just send her to the local public school for primary and then maybe to a Christian private school for high school. I went to an Anglican school and it actually had a big impact on my faith. But my husband went to every kind of school known to man (Christian, public, Catholic, he even did correspondence from a caravan for a year) I think he went to 11 schools in total, so I’m certainly hoping for a bit more stability than that for Birdy!
Of course every parent hopes their child will do well academically, but I actually don’t want my daughter to go to a school that gets the most brilliant results. I’ve known a number of people who went through their entire school life feeling dumb, because they were in the bottom half of their class, but they actually went on to get over 90 in the HSC. In a really selective school, even very bright kids can mistakenly spend six years of their life feeling like the slow one. Which isn’t great for the self-esteem. If you’ve spent your entire formative teenage years feeling inadequate it’s very hard to re-program yourself later. So I wouldn’t consider one of the most elite schools unless I happened to have an extremely gifted and talented child.
Now that I have a bit of distance from my own school days, I actually think that the friendships you make are the most important aspect of school life. That’s what forms your character, that’s what determines the kind of person you become, and with that in mind I think that proximity is quite important (except of course for those who live in isolated areas where its not really an option). If you want your child to form strong friendships and have a sense of belonging and community and to get involved in the life of their school, then traveling an hour and a half on the bus is probably not conducive to that. So for me a big priority is going to be that it’s relatively local and we can all get involved in the school community. That’s probably just as important as whether it’s private, public, Christian, Catholic, selective, co-ed or whatever.
What did you look for when choosing a school for your kids? What did you love/hate about your own education? Are you in favour of private or public education? Have you had to choose different schools to suit different children? What would you do differently and what have you learned along the way?
Today Birdy told me she loves pink.
I’m still coming to terms with this. I hope it’s just a phase, but I have my suspicions that Birdy’s love affair with pink may be long and enduring.
I’m not entirely sure how it came to this.
When my daughter was born, my husband and I were determined to dress her in any colour BUT pink. However after a month or so of having her constantly mistaken for a boy, we started to buy one or two pink items. Then we realized she actually looked really good in pink. Now there would rarely be a day that goes by when she isn’t dressed in something pink and sparkly.
I think all little girls seem to be attracted to sparkle and bling, (just look at the number of fairy dresses in every toystore!) but a couple of recent incidents have made me question my daughter’s ideas of beauty.
The first was a moment relayed to me by my hubby. He was about to pop on a DVD when the phone rang. In the meantime, the TV was left on The Bold and the Beautiful for just a few moments. On screen was the image of a dolled up older woman, with soft-focus camera, over the top glamour makeup and a sparkly dress. “Look Daddy she’s sooo beautiful!” Birdy exclaimed in excitement. My husband recoiled in horror!
The other incident was with my sister. I’d bought some cardboard people, which Birdy and her cousin decorated by cutting out heads and clothes from magazines. My sister later told me that Birdy consistently chose the bling-bling glamour dresses and hairstyles. All Birdy’s paper dolls ended up looking like celebrities on the red carpet.
I certainly don’t think I’ve done anything to encourage this! I’m not the most fashionable person… I rarely even dress up. But you’ve only got to look at the images of women that surround us on billboards, magazine covers and advertising to realize that glamourous seems to be the only female model on offer. You don’t see many fun, healthy images of women and girls in the mainstream, so it’s no wonder that Birdy’s ideas of beauty are the airbrushed, stylized images she sees all around her.
Girls need to know that there are many different ways to be beautiful and that every person can find a style to suit their personality and their body. Of course, parents can model healthy attitudes, but young girls growing up in this saturated media environment are going to have a real battle on their hands to maintain realistic ideas about health and beauty. What we need are ethical advertisers and editors who are serious about their responsibility to the next generation of women.
As parents, we need to offer our kids a broader definition of beauty, both in how we respond to our own appearance and to theirs. But we should also take delight in the natural beauty around us, in animals, plants, artworks, waterfalls, sunsets, sailboats, good food and in the faces of those we love. Perhaps then we can help our girls to intuitively understand that there’s more than one way to be beautiful.
Do your girl/s love sparkle and bling? When did they start to develop their own ideas about fashion and beauty? How do you try to encourage healthy ideas about body image?
I’ve got a bit of a problem. I wouldn’t mind some help with it. You see, my delightful daughter just will not keep her clothes on. She loves nothing better than to take off every stitch of clothing and run around the garden naked.
You might think the cold weather would deter her, but no. The other day I was washing up at the kitchen sink while Birdy was swinging in the backyard and I was sort of watching her out of the corner of my eye. Anyway, when I finished and went outside, there she was still swinging, but with no pants on! She’d taken herself to the toilet and just not bothered to put her clothes back on. Even though it was quite chilly outside, she was happily swinging away, nudey rudey!
Actually it’s quite the norm in our street. Half the kids in the neighbourhood run around the backyard with no clothes on. Some of them even do it in their front yard and nobody seems to mind. But I’m just curious about at what age that becomes no longer socially acceptable. At 2 or 3, it seem to be OK for kids to run around in their birthday suits, whether it’s their birthday or not. But she’s three and a half now, and I’m just wondering when I have to start cracking the whip, stamping the foot and saying, ‘Right, that’s it. No more stickers without your knickers’ or words to that effect.
Because no matter how much myself, my husband or my sister tell Birdy to keep her clothes on, she just seizes any opportunity to be free of them. And I don’t want to crush her earthy, independent spirit, but at some point it’s going to have to stop. Either that or we’ll have to move to a remote Pacific Island where its more socially acceptable to wear very little.
Do your kids like to be nudey rudey? Have you managed to control their exhibitionist tendencies? At what age is it no longer acceptable for kids to run around the backyard with no clothes on?