Yesterday my daughter had her friend, who is also a 5-year-old girl, over for a playdate. At one point, I noticed their "playing" got a little out of hand. Translation: They were playing too rough. Instead of playing with dolls and in the makeshift "toy kitchen" set up in the bedroom, they were wrestling on the floor. This wasn't the first time; they've actually done this kind of thing many times before.
One might think this was restlessness at work, but as I quit everything else I was doing to sit on the couch with the newspaper so I could keep a closer eye on them, I couldn't help but wonder if it was my daughter's "tomboy side" shining through. (Before I became pregnant, we'd "play wrestle" on my bed. She'd often bounce on my bed, cry out "let's fight!" and we'd be at it.)
As I watched the girls wrestling, and occasionally called out warnings like "be careful" and "don't put your foot on her throat like that; she'll choke," I started to wonder if my other mom friends with daughters often faced this very same task of worrying over playtime getting too rough. I mean, even after my daughter complained of hurting her wrist (and I told her "don't play too rough"), she went right back into the action all over again.
Of course I can be positive about her having an aggressive side. After all, I know all to well it's a hard world out there and she won't fare very well going into it as a passive, meek little thing everybody pushes around. But I have to wonder also if she's starting to catch on to the many action movies we've watched together where characters like Xena and Lara Croft tackle meanies with fists (and legs) flying and kicking. We'd often cheer them on and say, "She kicked his butt!" I remember reading this magazine article talking about how girls were starting to emulate these positive role models in real life (which is WHY we need to keep having strong female lead characters in movies and TV!) and I wonder if that's starting to rub off on my daughter, too. She may be only 5 years old but, apparently, something has told her that it's GOOD to be physically aggressive and less fearful of a fight (physical or otherwise).
On the other hand, my daughter IS a tomboy, and perhaps maybe that is just part of the "tomboy nature" to wrestle with her friends.
All the same, I realize that the wrestling and rough play can only go so far. I'm against violence period, but I'm not against participating in an activity that challenges physical strength and stamina. This is why I stopped EVERYTHING else to keep a watch over the playing; there's just only so much that's allowed with that kind of activity. I'm still haunted by a newspaper story I read where children were playing and one of them accidentally suffocated because an older child put a pillow over his face and sat on it until he stopped moving. Kids often forget about safety rules when the playing gets too rough and they will also fail to understand just how dangerous or deadly certain activities or things can be. As long as nobody is breaking any legs or trying to pull a cannonball on anyone, though, I have no trouble watching over them while the playing imitates fighting.
It would seem, however, that I am not destined to raise an Amazonian-type of daughter. The girls stopped wrestling to notice I was blowing bubbles. They both tumbled onto the couch, asking for bubblegum. I winced. "This is really hot gum. I don't think you guys will like it."
"I don't care," my daughter's friend said.
My daughter chose the more common negotiating approach: She begged. Folding her hands together in prayer, she whined, "Mama! Mama! PLEEEAAASSSSE?"
I shook my head, getting up from the couch. "All right. If you guys think you can handle it." At least the gum is sugarless, so no guilt pains tugged at me for giving in to their request.
The friend put the gum in her mouth and started chewing. She made a pained face and tears came out of her eyes but she REFUSED to show any signs of weakness as she kept her mouth clamped shut and chewed that spicy gum anyway.
My daughter, on the other hand, proved to be no match for the spicy gum. Not 5 seconds passed after she put it in her mouth that she took off for the trash can.
I'm on a Children's Fiction Rec List
6 hours ago