"Sweetie, do you want to get dressed up and wear a dress or skirt because it's Thanksgiving? Or do you just want to wear regular jeans and a shirt?"
"I don't care. You choose."
I picked out a cute "dressed up" outfit, complete with coordinating shirt and skirt and pretty blue leggings. She got many compliments and, I think, felt good about how she looked.
But, honestly? She really doesn't care about things like clothes. Dress her up - she's happy. Dress her down - she's happy. S'all good.
Which, you know, is good!
Apparently, though, she also doesn't care about presenting herself appropriately when she is dressed up.
- "It's not 'dress-up' day, Sweetie."
- "Sweetie! Sit like a lady!"
- "Sweetie! Is that how you're supposed to sit on the couch when you're wearing a skirt?"
It seems like we were constantly reminding her to sit like the young lady she is. Her response?
"I'm not a lady! I'm a half tomboy."
At the end of our visit with Grammy and Grampy, when just we 3 and Grammy and Grampy were left, this whole subject exploded into a full-out discussion where the following points were discussed:
* Grammy used to be a tomboy.
* Arguments from Sweetie that "this" half of her (the right half, for instance) was a tomboy (and therefore 'allowed' to be messy) and the other half of her was girl.
* Just because you don't like certain things that girly girls typically like, and you do like certain things that boys typically like, doesn't mean you are or aren't a girly girl or a tomboy.
* What's wrong with being a girl anyway? Girls can do anything!
* No matter what you say about yourself, you still have to be decent and present yourself appropriately.
* Why does it matter so much to Sweetie to define herself as a tomboy anyway?
Afterwards... I don't know. At least she sat up. I think. It was a long day, and it was time for us to move on to the next Turkey Day Celebration.
On the way over to my parents', well... I'm sorry, but I couldn't let it go. I had to ask - "Why do you think it's so important to define who you are, Sweetie? For a DI kid, I sure am surprised you don't know by now that you are so much more than "just" a tomboy who happens to like some girlie things as well." (thus the "half tomboy" label) "What are some other things you could say about you?"
"I'm a girl who likes to play Legos who has Lyme Disease."
"Ooookaaayyy." (Daddy chimes in) "Yes, that's true. But that doesn't define who you are! You are creative and smart and fun and funny and crafty and in DI and..."
"Most ladies love to shop. But I hate shopping! Most women, you could say, love chocolate. I could take it or leave it. Most ladies loooovvvve shoes. I don't care at all about shoes! But I wouldn't say I'm a tomboy either. I'm me, and that's great! Celebrate who you are, Sweetie! Don't limit yourself with labels and definitions. Be YOU! Be Sweetie!"
In prepping for writing this post, I Googled quotes on defining oneself and being true to yourself. And I was surprised to see just as many quotes advising people TO define themselves as opposed to NOT defining/labeling themselves. And I suppose I see "the definers" point as well. Many of these quotable people were suggesting that one should define himself rather than be defined by society or what others think. When put like that - yes, agreed.
I also read that to give the advice "Be Yourself" is about the worst advice you can give to some people. I agree, it is rather half-hearted and vague advice. Just thinking back to high school yearbook signing... harkens of "never change" and "stay you." I mean, what did we mean by this? Nothing. It was just something to write that "sounded good." I think better advice might be to be the best version of yourself you can be. That way you are always reaching, always striving, always allowing for change and growth. Whereas to "be yourself," in its own way, is somewhat limiting and doesn't necessarily require you to grow into yourself - you're already there.
So, no, Sweetie. Daddy and I are not telling you to "be yourself." But we are challenging you to discover, appreciate and love being YOU! YOU are still growing, learning, experimenting, dreaming, creating. YOU are still working on your self, as all kids are. As all people should be, no matter their age. Your self is an ever-changing being, lead by your passions and interests, environment and beliefs, and more. Your self is someone YOU can and should always be working on to master...without ever actually mastering, as no human is ever perfect. YOU are full of knowledge and challenges, light and dark, creativity and questions, and so on. You be YOU! And don't let your self or anyone else ever tell you you can't be!
"Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!" - Dr. Seuss