Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Shameless Child Story

#1 rule of preaching: don't use your own kids for illustrations, or you'll embarrass them and drive them away forever.

So instead I'll blog about my oldest.

On Monday we had our 1st parent-teacher conference of the year. Her teacher, Mrs. Brandt, made an interesting observation. "In some ways, Olivia is very mature. In others, she's still a little girl. And I love that about her." She went on to explain: Olivia has very concrete ideas and interests. She goes to the library and says "I want to learn about ancient Egypt." Then she checks out the books about ancient Egypt. Which, I understand, is pretty rare for 2nd graders.

On the other hand, Mrs. Brandt said, "she's just not into a lot of things that the other girls are. Which is stuff that no 2nd grade girl should be into, anyway." Apparently the other 2nd grade girls are talking about boyfriends. And at the moment they're playing the "who's the most popular" game. Mrs. Brandt says Olivia is blissfully unaware of this social game, and plays with whoever comes along. But it also means that, even at this tender age, other girls are excluding her.

And I know the reason. "That's because we don't have television in the house. And we're extremely careful what Olivia watches. It's Strawberry Shortcake and Barbie Island Princess for her, not Hanna Montana and that other Disney/Nick jr. garbage."

Mrs. Brandt seemed surprised. "Is that where it comes from?" Apparently she was unaware that the vast majority of 2nd grade girls are watching the Disney channel girlie shows, most of which focus on, well, boyfriends, looks, and popularity.

So here's the problem. We're choosing to raise Olivia outside of television's influence. Which will, in truth, make her an outcast at many levels. She won't understand why girls play the snotty game, why they obsess about boys in the 3rd grade, why they care what kind of pants you wear (at least, she won't get it until much later). And, knowing the cattiness of the playground, I have no doubt that she'll get teased for it.

But, as Mrs. Brandt said, "You have a definite plan and philosophy in your child raising, which is rare." Which, I would add, is also sad. Not that we have a plan, but that so few parents do have a plan.

So here's to my daughter, who's not playing the popularity game, who's not being influenced by Hannah/Ashley/Britney/whatever current Disney prefab is suddenly famous. And here's to parents who actually think about what they want their children to be, rather than allowing the media to define them.


Beth B said...

God bless you, your wife and Olivia. It's not easy on any of you to do this, but be of good cheer, He has overcome the world!

Kim said...

How wonderful, Dan! Affirmation comes in all forms, and this was just wonderful to read.

You also described my Delci! Now add homeschooling into the mix, and you can see where this is headed. We're beyond pleased at how she's turned out so far.

My family thinks my kids are missing out on important aspects of their childhood, and that they won't develop "street smarts" because they're not in school, or keeping up on the latest social trends, blah blah blah. I see it as I'm giving my children a chance at life on their own terms, according to God's purpose for them.