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Saturday, October 11, 2014

It's All About The Lip Gloss, Baby! (or maybe not)

I was sending my edits for EVEN VILLAINS HAVE INTERNS back to Lovely Editor when Bunny tackled me with one thing in mind: fashion!

My soon-to-be-three-year-old had a fistful of barrettes, a brush, and lip gloss. She climbed onto my lap and we stopped to play beauty school. First I brushed her hair, then put a row of neon flower clips in her baby-fine hair, and then came the lip gloss. Bunny shies away when things come towards her face, so even though she wants to the lip gloss on, she leans away and dodges. Eventually we settled for her guiding my hand as we applied the lip gloss. And then she decided I needed some too.

This is one of the tricky parts of parenting.

I don't particularly want mint lip gloss from a party pack smeared on my face. I don't love the smell or the sticky baby hands on my face. But this is about more than green glitter goop on my lips.

For a child the home is a laboratory. Bunny's first attempt to do my makeup isn't about beauty or fashion, not really. At this point it's all about interaction. Bunny is learning how it is appropriate to touch people, how to be gentle, how to consider their feelings when I say "no, thank you" or "yes, please" in response to her attempts to brush my hair.

This is a time when a child learns their body is their own. Bunny's choice to guide my hand putting on lip gloss rather than passively letting me do whatever I want is the first step to understanding what she is and isn't comfortable with. It's very important for every child to learn to self-advocate. They need to learn to say, "Nope! I don't want you that close to my face, or touching me like that, or talking like that."

It's easy to forget in the hurly-burly of daily life that there are still things to learn. Parenting is more than cooking meals, washing laundry, and supervising homework. Kids need to learn. Adults need to learn. Everyone has something they don't know yet.

So, for all you weary parents out there wondering why you're letting your baby pull your hair, here's why: If they learn how to treat you right, and how it feels to be treated with respect in turn, your child will grow up to be a person who doesn't bully, abuse, or disrespect other people.

Home: the experiment starts here.

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