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Breaking girls hearts.

I was recently shopping in a large chain store that has a huge array of kids clothes in two very separate sections.  One of very dark sturdy warm looking clothes and one that resembles fairy floss.

I live in the desert.  At the moment it is cold and dusty.  Due to the limited selection and the light coloured fairy floss wear – I am often told by women on the street that my daughter will “break a few girls hearts one day“.  This is because she is wearing the dark sturdy warm looking alternative.  Not because they have a sixth sense for sexual orientation in toddlers.

The comments aren’t the problem … She might ‘break a few girls hearts someday’ (I hope that she doesn‘t break anyone’s heart actually) … The problem is the thin, pink, short, inadequate and sometimes inappropriate clothing range for little girls.  You walk in and it is almost an assault on the eyes that would make Holden Caulfield want to ‘puke’.  And it is depressing.  Especially for someone like me who must analyse it…

Firstly, my major problem is the sexualisation of little girls – the innocent vixen look that is being pushed by our major chain stores.  Walking through this section makes you think you have just stumbled into the dressing room of a sick and twisted pageant where children give the sexy eye to and flirt with judges to allure them into some sort of pre-teen verification.  The thin clinging stockings and short shorts as an alternative to a good ol’ pair of tracky dacks.

Secondly, these clothes are restrictive by comparison.  The tops are often much shorter than the male alternative and putting short shorts and skirts on the very active child does run the risk of underwear being seen.  Also the manufacturers must think that little girls will never play outside because there is no way grass and mud comes easily off pink.  And looking at the quality in stitching I’d say they also think little girls only wear things once.

This whole section of clothing that seems to remain unchanged every season is perpetuating an image of girls as passive observers in life.  Seen and not heard.  Needing their innocence protected instead of allowing them to explore and get their hands dirty.  In short it represents repression.

Don’t think I’m just hung up on the girls though – what about the image we are creating about boys?   The clothes in this section (while they are much sturdier and warmer) make the statement that boys are little animals.  That they are apparently uncontrollable nutcases that need extra knee padding and millions of pockets.   With slogans all over their chests saying things like “lock up your daughters” in a size 2.  The other end of the spectrum of sexualisation – the predatory male (in which case the ‘break a few girls hearts someday‘ comment becomes more offensive).

Why is it that we must subliminally and consciously stereotypically gender our children?  How much is Anne Geddes to blame?  Should I be worried that no one else seems to notice?  Why can’t there just be one big kids section that has no genders or stereotypes attached?

There are three main perpetuated images of children in our society.  They are that of the innocent, that of the monster or animal and that of the embryo adult (just small adults).  All of these images are damaging, restricting and pigeonholing images that are constantly bombarding children and shaping our interactions with them.  The objectification of children is even more sickening than that of grown women and yet it is more socially acceptable.  (That is a big statement coming from a ‘raving feminist‘).  Think about it in terms of race.  If we had sections specifically based on generalisations about race … actually we don’t even have to go that far. Think about it in terms of adults.  Tomorrow you go into the store to get some winter gear for yourself.  All you have to choose from is 500 shades of pink, short shorts and stockings, tops that you can’t lift your arms in without showing midriff.  It sounds like a nightmare for me so why would be okay for my child?

Like any marginalised group in society children are individuals who deserve respect and consideration but the scary difference is that children must rely on adults to advocate for them.  There is so much trust that is being taken for granted in decisions that may be as simple as buying your kid a jumper!

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Poo – focus on the positive!

Give me a medal – my child has not done a poo in a nappy for months.  Since she was 5 months old she would give you that look.  A wink almost. To let you know what was coming.  She is sill in nappies at 20 months (for the pesky wetness) but she is so regular that toilet training has become a daily pleasure – if you will – along with walks and tummy time.  But I’m not just one of those mothers that MUST tell you about their child’s bowel movements … well I am actually but there is more to the story!

My daughter, Charlotte, has some pretty serious developmental delays due to seizures.  Kaz Cooke , was once a source of comfort to me (especially as a teenager) and suddenly her descriptions of normal baby development were affronting and scary!  There was a disclaimer that these rates of development varied but surely not in every single area except poo!

Everything becomes a little more sketchy when you find out that your child has seizures for unknown reasons.  The tests upon tests that don’t seem to give you too much more information.  The drugs upon drugs end up like a cocktail that would put anyone off their food.  The doctors visits and the specialist scene want the same story you gave the last one and you hope you don’t forget that time she did this or that! What did I say that was irrelevant? What did I say that made them write on the record? Was that a twitch in their eye?

Things seem to have settled down a lot since those first few months of meetings and greetings with medical personel.

Seizures have stopped.

Dosage seems right.

Jobs have been got.

There’s more sleeping at night.

But still there aren’t any real answers about how all this occurred.  Now the next wave of specialists are waiting in the wings to assess Charlotte’s walking, talking, moving and grooving  inability.  Kaz’s poor neglected developmental guide book never gets a look in anymore.  Especially as 18 months + includes walking, understanding the purpose of objects, throwing balls, climbing, intentionally pulling faces, understanding directions,  using simple sentences, copying sounds and actions, or having any kind of consistent verbal communication. Among all of these things that Charlotte can’t do I like to take the time to focus on the positive.  One of those positives just happens to be eating more solids, swallowing, digesting, holding, waiting, making a face at mummy, getting put onto the toilet and doing a poo!

So give her a medal too … and tell Kaz Cooke I still love her!

Babies Born!

Today we celebrated the birthday of the first baby boy born (say that three times fast) in the Alice Springs Hospital!  He’s 70.

We had Charlotte in a hospital in 2007 on the Queensland coast… one word – Shenanigans!  When I fell (*trip* oops!) pregnant again last year I was going to have the baby in the Alice Springs hospital.  Unfortunately that last pregnancy was a molar pregnancy, but the options open to women having babies in Alice Springs are pretty impressive.  Home birthing options are the most surprising –  You get full support and your own home birthing midwife for free!  Do they stay on, do the washing and make you a cuppa tea?  That would be sweet! I don’t know if I would have gone for it but I am glad the option is there.  I was one of those mums screaming for the drugs by the end.  The words – “numb me up woman!” may have been uttered/yelled.

It is a much smaller hospital than the one in Qld and it is used by people from miles around in an area where health issues are a hot topic.  So, I think it is excellent that they provide such a great range of services for pregnant women.

The old Aboriginal man who turned 70 is trying to get the hospital to acknowledge him as the first boy born there (on the plaque outside it only has the first Caucasian boy born – it was 1939).  Once that racism issue is cleared up I wonder if the woman who was born before both of them will want it changed!

Argg!  I am torn between my anti-racisim and anti-sexism feelings! Actually I think they should share the glory of the plaque!  I think I might write a country and western song about it… watch this space for my no.1 hit – the glory of the plaque.