What Am I Sheltering Her From?

1

little girl in her mother's dress, is trying painting her nails“Hey sexy lady” boomed from the speakers of our local indoor inflatable play facility while a Dance Revolution digital dance screen gyrated largely on the wall.  Hip thrusts.  Shoulder shimmies.

Provocative moves for the little ones to mimic.  Which most did after being called over by the “Party Host” to have the final dance party of the day.

Luckily, not mine.

I watched my five-year old invent her own moves and dance, completely unaware of what was happening around her. Or what was being sung in the song.  And I was thankful that in this moment she seemed unphased by the world that wants her to grow up too fast.  And I wondered how this particular song and these moves were approved for a child’s play environment for kids 18 months to 8 years old?

So, do I shelter her?  I could’ve complained.  We could’ve left.  We could just never go back there again.  But she wasn’t being hurt – in fact, she had no idea what was going on.  And I know that I can’t shelter her from this forever.  I have to figure out a way to equip her with the skills and the knowledge of what is right and wrong.

Appropriate or not.  She needs to be able to work through it herself. With me so that when she is without me, she has a firm foundation of expectations and appropriateness for our family.

And I’m not a big believer in making a scene (unless it is totally warranted) or being irrational.  I am not naive to the fact that I can’t keep her little forever.  I can’t wrap her in bubble wrap and isolate her in her bedroom until she’s eighteen.  I have to let her explore and be exposed and wonder.  And then I have to be here for her when she questions or falls.  So I can’t just leave.  I can’t make a scene because that will just model for her how not to handle situations.  She can’t think that throwing a fit to get your way is acceptable.

So I just let her dance.

<!–nextpage–>

I thought about asking her in the car what she thought about the song. But I realized as she was belting out “Let It Go” that she has no idea what the words were to that other song – she was dancing to the beat. And the songs we sing and she listens to are appropriate.  The clothes that she wears are appropriate (because I spend countless hours looking for them).  the moves that she dances, the costumes she constructs, the activities she participates in – I am modest in the life that I expose her to.  Because I want her to stay little as long as possible.

And suddenly it’s all so clear:  right now, she doesn’t even notice. What am I sheltering her from? I’ve given way too much credit to the inappropriate words, actions, songs, ideas of society.  The radio is talking about Caitlyn Jenner and I cringe and reach to change the station when she asks, Mommy, is Taylor Swift going to come on the radio again?  I love that ‘Shake It Off’ song!  I worry about her Barbies kissing and she says it’s Mommy Barbie and Daddy Barbie.  They love each other.

She doesn’t even see the world as I see it.  By refusing to buy her a two-piece bathing suit am I body shaming my five-year-old or protecting her from oversexualization?

Do I even need to be worried about that?

At some point, I have to let her be little if I want her to stay little.  I can’t wrap her in bubble wrap and not let her explore the world.  Am I doing more harm by teaching her that things are bad when she really hadn’t seen/heard/thought about the one thing I’m freaking out about?

There will be plenty of time for me to have those hard conversations.  There will be plenty of time for me to stand in front of her, blocking her from the inappropriateness of the world.

But right now?  I think she’s good.

So I’m just going to let her dance.


lk herndon is a mother, writer, teacher whose debut children's book, "Petunia", has just been released on Amazon. Shaped by her experiences growing up Southern, lk herndon tells sweet and simple stories. She earned her BA in Political Science, her MFA in Creative Non-Fiction and has spent more than a decade teaching high school subjects such as: AP Language and American Literature, Honors World Literature, World History, and American History. While her days are spent in the classroom, the balance of time is spent as Mama to her Monogram Mafia (alongside her very favorite partner-in-chaos, former high school sweetheart and now husband of nearly seven years, BJ). Sneaking in time to write between the snuggles and squeals, lk herndon graces the world with a sneak peek into real life adventures sprinkled with overgrown imaginations and uncommon sense. Follow her blog lkherndon.com

1 COMMENT

  1. I think you are doing just the right thing. My daughter is 11 now and I’ve done the same! She’s turning out to be responsible all by herself to decide what’s inappropriate. I don’t even have to tell her or direct her. Keep doing what you’re doing. Great post.

Leave a Reply