As a mum of a four-year-old who is increasingly becoming more aware of the world around her, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about helping her navigate the path from here. She tells me that when she grows up, she wants to teach mermaids how to swim … or maybe be a Mummy. She tells me when she’s older, she wants to marry a boy in her pre-school class but also the girl she’s “best friends” with. I explain to her that mermaids aren’t real, but she can be a teacher if she likes. I explain that while she can marry a girl – of course she can marry a girl – she doesn’t need to marry her best friend… they can be best friends and she can marry someone else who she really loves.
I also explain that she can’t tell fibs and that it’s not nice to bark “MORE” when she’d like me to share some more of my chips with her. There are lots of things I’m trying to guide her on. One big thing is her attitude towards her body. I’m so careful never to say that fat is bad, thin is good. I tell her I go to the gym because exercise is healthy, not because I want to lose weight. When she asks me about why Mummy has blood on the toilet tissue, I’m really aware that I need to be honest and tell her that grown up women have periods once a month.
I want her to be confident and comfortable in her own skin, as she gets older, and able to talk about body and health issues, no matter how embarrassing….