Rebecca Eckler is one of Canada's most talked about newspaper columnists, the author of Knocked Up: Confessions of a Hip Mother to Be, which has been translated into nine languages. Also the author of the bestsellers, Wiped!, Toddlers Gone Wild, and Rotten Apple, the first in a YA series. Random thoughts on life in the competitive world of modern mommyhood. Blog will be loved by trendy mothers who still feel, or often feel, that the most important word in "mommee" is ME!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Disturbing Phone Call(s)

I was in Toronto last week for a couple days.

My daughter can finally call me on the phone! Well, she needs Nanny Mimi to dial for her (Rowan, The Dictator, is not some crazy genius) but she liked to call me - and often. I loved it.

But I received a very disturbing phone call, while I was away, from Nanny Mimi one afternoon. "Rowan really likes this hat that she saw on another classmate and she wants it," Nanny Mimi told me.

I immediately felt my stomach drop. I knew it was going to happen, but I didn't think it would happen this soon. I mean, Rowan is only three! She's not thirteen!

I get that 13 year-olds may want to dress like their friends. But a three-year old?

Ok, I admit, I missed Rowan a ton while I was gone and I do, like every mother, want my child to be happy - at any cost. Well, almost any cost.

This did not sit with me well at all. I do not want Rowan to want to wear what other girls wear. Especially not so soon.

But because I had mother guilt for leaving her and apparently Rowan really really wanted this hat and it was only a hat from Old Navy, I told Nanny Mimi to go forth and purchase the hat.

Well, i got a phone call back that Old Navy was out of these hats. Nanny Mimi had went and she couldn't find them. She asked me if I would go to Old Navy in Toronto and find this hat.

To which I said, "I so don't have the time." (Really, I barely had time to eat lunch while I was there and there's not an Old Navy just down the street. Anyway.)

I told Nanny Mimi that Rowan doesn't need the same hat as Other Girl in her Nursery school, but she could take Rowan anywere else to buy any hat she wanted. (Which also made me a tad sick, because Rowan already has 8 hats.) But mother guilt. It will kill you.

I got off the phone and thought, "Hmmm. Maybe I should call my mother and ask her to go to the Old Navy near her house and buy Rowan the hat." Then I thought, "NO!!!! This is so not a precedent I want to start. I do not want Rowan thinking this is all ok."

So I forgot about it. Until Nanny Mimi called me again the next day to tell me gleefully that she finally found the hat. "Oh great!" I said.

"Yes, Rowan is so happy," she told me.

"Great!" I said again, thinking, "This is not sitting with me well at all."

Rowan called me later. I asked her if she liked her new hat. And you know what she said to me?

She said, "I love my hat. It's the same one as Rebecca's and Gabriell's at my school."

"Great!" I said, thinking. "Oh, god, no!!!"

Honestly, it's too young for this to all start. It's. Too. Young.

But how do you explain to a three year-old that it's not cool to want something just because her friends have it? I swear, I thought I'd have another 8 years before this all started.

Experienced mothers, please share....


Anonymous ali said...'re doomed...i've got myself the 5 year old version of only seems to get worse!

10:54 AM

Blogger Laural Dawn said...

My niece is like that too. She's 4. Her obsession is with Crocs. And she's getting them for Christmas.
I don't know if it's a big deal or not. I mean, the good news is that she's not the kid who totally doesn't fit in. I guess.

12:20 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, I have a nearly 7 year old and a nearly 12 year old. This is not a disaster. This is normal. This does not mean she will be a follower her whole life. A year ago, I'm sure Rowan was happy to go outside in a tutu and princess crown (she still might be...). But we eventually learn what society expects of us. She is 'trying on' the idea of being like other people. Much as you would like her to be an individual and an iconoclast, you don't want her going through life being too far outside the norm. She is just experimenting and figuring out where her interests lie in the vast continuum between sheep and weirdo! If you allow her to be like the other girls, at times, and continue to emphasize the value of being an individual, she will find a comfortable place for her own attitude and style. Fear not!

12:50 PM

Anonymous Nicola said...

I loved your post. I really think I am in for it...after two boys, I find it refreshing to have a girl! Thing is, at 19 month, she already loves shopping. She is in luck too. I have been going into the the greatest shops to sell my new line of baby slings. I usually come out with something for her...

1:25 PM

Anonymous Girlygurl said...

I have 3 boys, so sorry, can't help or share. Aren't you secretly excited though to have another fashion junkie in the family? I mean, 3 years old and already having an appreciation for stylish headware? Just think of the fun shopping times ahead!!

1:27 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

She just wants to be like her friends because it seems cool to wear the same hats, even when you're three.

1:29 PM

Anonymous Del Mar said...

I have trouble coming to terms with the fact that this is some sort of inherent behaviour, I mean she is only three years old! I don't remember being like that at three, but to be fair, I really don't remember being three.

Personally I feel it is all some sort of grand marketing scheme and you are right to be concerned.
I have a 19-month-old girl and yes, I do go out of my way to dress her in nice clothes, sometimes expensive for how long she actually wears them, but I am reasonable in how much I buy per growth stage.

I kind of can't accept that we are all just doomed to be victims of corporate greed.

On the other hand, my partner says if the original hat owners were showered with attention when they showed up in their hats, maybe your girl saw the hat as a way of getting the same amount of attention.

Really, try not to think to much about it. it's too stressful.

4:45 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What you did, getting her the hat, was no big deal.It's not a bad thing to want to be like your friends.What I think isn't good is that you were more inclined to get the hat because you were out of town and feeling guilty. If you set that kind of precedent now, she'll always know how to work you when you're away.If you feel guilty about traveling, then cut back,or don't cut back.Just don't try to make up for it with things you would normally say no to.It's not the right way to go, for either one of you.

8:17 PM

Blogger sunshine scribe said...

My guy is 5 and it started about the same age with him too. Its pretty normal. But I am with you about not wanting to foster it. I usually just pick my battles. Now he goes to school with uniforms and that solved most of it for us.

8:05 AM

Blogger mad muthas said...

i'm not sure there's much you can do about it. my daughter (12) is extremely conscious of what other people are wearing and spends a lot of her time defining herself as being like or unlike her peers - or various celebs. this is why it makes me so furious when a girl like lindsay (sp?)lohan goes over to the dark side - her influence on teens and pre-teens is huge and it's so what you don't want for your daughter.
i heard something interesting the other day about the values/attributes that are admired by different age groups. for kids up to about 15, it's conformism, for 15-18s, it's cool, 18-25, originality, 25-40, competence, 40-60, warmth and i can't remember anything beyond that. so i'm afraid you're stuck with conformism for a few years yet. maybe she could eventually become a trend setter, rather than a follower? she could become editor of vogue - once harriet (my daughter) resigns, of course.

4:34 PM

Anonymous Shandra said...

Just from the other side of the fence - my mother took a hard core approach to that (partly due to having to make do with a lot of hand-me-downs) and it sucked. It made me much more obsessed with trying to get what other people had, later.

Advice from out of my ass is - give in sometimes, but don't always, and always talk to her about it like "I see you want to be like your friends right now when it comes to hats." No judgment, just let her see it. :-)

5:03 PM

Anonymous hearmeout said...

I'm thirteen, and I don't go out of my way to dress like my friends. I think it depends on the peer group. Are those girls telling your daughter to get that hat? Will they let her play with them if she has the hat? Do other kids like the hat? or does she just want to dress like her friends because sometimes dressing the same is fun.

11:20 AM

Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

We haven't faced this yet with WonderBaby, thank god, butI have seen it with my niece. You're right to want to curb it, but I don't know how much one can do.

2:18 PM

Blogger Beastarzmom said...

I can remember being in 4th grade. All my friends had Barbies, and I wasn't allowed to have one. One Christmas, I was presented with a trunk full of hand made doll clothes and a TAMMY doll. I played with it, and even at that age, appreciated the time and effort that went into making all those clothes.

But I never forgot that it was not a Barbie.

Buy the hat, let it go. I'm in agreement that it probably shouldn't happen all the time, but once in a while, why not?

6:23 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just wait, once the shoes start it is all over!

Addicted to Doll Houses

5:42 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just wait, once the shoes start it is all over!

Addicted to Doll Houses

5:43 AM

Anonymous MOTP - mother of the pants in the family said...

I have a 4 year old, who when entering any store asks if she can try on the pretty things!

I have to say, that I love it! But, I try, (read TRY really hard, but don't always...) not to always buy something. I think it is a fine line we walk in terms of giving in to every whim, or enjoying the pleasure of watching our daughters be little girls, I mean really, who doesn't love a new hat, or dress or whatever!

Yikes - does this make sense?

8:55 AM


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