I am Saving Myself Thanks Mum

Kiera Knightly recently broke the interweb with her announcement that she has banned her three year old daughter from watching The Little Mermaid and Cinderella.  She feels that they teach her daughter wrong and even misogynistic lessons; that you need to wait for a man to save you and that you must give up your voice for the man you want…

Kristen Bell has issues with Snow White because of how consent is conveyed in it.

Fair enough.

Who are we to judge? If these Mamas don’t want to let their kids watch these movies, that is absolutely 100% THEIR DECISION!

In fact, the portrayal of women in Disney is something I have discussed with my students many, many, many times, and while I agree that many of the traditional “princesses” are frustratingly meek and mild and oh so obedient to their hearts and menfolk, I also am aware that the stories are not the cause of inequality and misogyny in our modern society.  They are only stories; fairytales, make believe… it is HOW we read them that is important.

Yes you can say that Prince Whatshisface kissing Snow White while she was sleeping is wrong.  Of course it is, but why do we hone in on that rather than the previous 60 minutes where she was a servant and cleaner and feck knows what else,  for seven little men?  (And does that not insult men, suggesting that seven of them together couldn’t function without a teenage girl to look after them?)

Yes, Cinderella needed magic and spells and fab shoes to get her prince.  And ‘tut’ to her that she needed a man to save her, but such was the world, the IMAGINARY world, in which she lived.

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Shakespeare wrote some of the most incredibly females in history. Lady Macbeth calls upon evil spirits to “unsex me here” because obviously she couldn’t be evil as she was a woman. (Any men getting offended here?)  And then he also wrote Ophelia, who is worse and more weak and frustrating that ANY Disney Princess in the world. Don’t start me on Ophelia…

Why did Shakespeare write her?  Because he was a woman hater? NO.  Because that was the society and cultural norm in the time in which he lived.  And actually, he had his Portia save the day when a crowd of men made a mess of everything, and then she married her Prince Charming, after saving his ass.

But we don’t ban our teenagers from reading Shakespeare do we?. In fact, we encourage it because we know that they can recognise the injustices and gender issues for themselves. Because we’ve given them those skills.

As for the Disney classics, remember that Cinderella and Snow White and The Little Mermaid were written in the early 1800s… of course their messages and social concepts are different to ours.

We however, get to choose how we read them.

And while there are valid arguments about the negative messages some of the classics send out, there are also plenty positives…and a few weird things, to pay attention to.

Cinderella was good and kind and she felt good in new, sparkly shoes. She also spoke to mice and birds.   Snow White was happy that Prince Whatshisface kissed her. He saved her. She wasn’t dragged off kicking and screaming to the castle to live happily ever after, was she?  The Little Mermaid was a defiant strong-willed rascal, who followed her heart.  Her best friends were also a crab and a fish… so let’s differentiate reality from fairytale.

Our daughters are no fairytale princesses.  They will not NEED a man to save them.  They will be able to look after themselves. They will be self-sufficient and well able to provide for themselves, to follow their dreams, to be “anything they want to be”… but can we stop already with telling them that they DON’T need to be girly?

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This teeshirt made me mad when I saw it a few weeks ago.  Yes, by all means encourage our daughters to believe that they can achieve anything they dream of and work for, but why do we need to tell them that being girly or wearing pink or dreaming of being a movie star are signs of weakness?  What the feck is wrong with wanting to be a movie star?  Are Megan Markle or KatyBaby failures because they found their Princes?

My daughters love dresses.  They love sparkles. They love makeup and dressing up and singing and being all round princesses.  They also love superheros, dress up as Hulk,  football and Pokemon and they play ninjas and wrestle.

There is no “That is for girls” or “That is for boys” in our house.

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Because that is not how to teach our children equality.

I like football. I like MMA. I swear more than a lady should. I train along with the menfolk in Jim and I prefer Marvel movies to Chickflicks.  In my work and projects, I take no prisoners and do not see any man as better than me.  And yet, I love to do all things “girly” too. and I love to dress up and I like sparkly shoes.

Does that make me less? Does the fact that I like pink and glitter and girly stuff make me weak? Because it seems to me that we’ve gone beyond telling girls they can be anything, we’ve gotten to the point that being girly is snubbed and scoffed at and actually looked down upon.

Well not on my watch.

I dress up and get my girly on, for me. Not for my Him or for anyone else.  For me. Because I am comfortable with who I am. And let me tell you, there is NO ONE who has watched as many Disney movies in their childhood (and still), as Me!

And my daughters will do what they want, how they want, Prince Charming or no Prince Charming, but they certainly will not be banned from watching Disney Movies, because all they see is a mermaid who sings songs and fights evil octopus monsters.

It’s a movie.

If you want your daughters to grow up strong and independent, teach them to be strong and independent…point out how old fashioned some of those Princesses are. (not all of them, for the newer ones are WICKED!  Merida, Mulan, Ana?)

And teach them that to be feminist does not mean hater of men.  It means equality for all. It means being able to stand up for themselves and to be a strong and independent woman, who can change the world and kick ass…whether in trousers and flats or in a skirt and glittery heels.

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Otherwise, they’ll end up offended by every man in the world and will need a big box of Man-sized…sorry, “extra large” Kleenex to wipe their offended eyes. I wonder when Manchester is being renamed? Peoplechester has a ring to it, don’t ya think?

Wear the pink, wear the glitter, wear the lipstick. Or don’t if you don’t want to … But be yourself and be strong and don’t let others tell you that you’re wrong. And then you might just live happily ever after.

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​The Him 👤 has childproofed the kitchen.
Isn’t Him clever?
Princess can no longer pull open the cupboards or potentially hurt her little self with dangerous kitcheny things.💖
Princess is intelligent but not so intelligent that she can figure out the clever clips from Clevamamma.


Princess is a little bit safer now.😍😍
So is Mammy.
Mammy too is a little bit safer now.😐
Because Mammy is not quite intelligent enough to figure out the bloody clips either and so now Mammy also can no longer open ANY of the kitchen cupboards.
Mammy is only able to open the one cupboard that The Him left Clevasafe clip free, but that cupboard is full of tupperware and lunchboxes and other useless, but safe-for-her-to-play-with crap, that Mammy really COULD dump because she NEVER uses anyway.
So today, because Mammy’s kitschen is now babyproofed AND Mammyproofed, everyone will be eating the VERY limited contents of the FRIDGE and they’ll be eating out of tupperware and lunchboxes! 😂😂
😘😘😘

I am Swearing-Mum

Last night, my Mini-Me said her first proper swear word.

Jeeeeeesus anyway,” she announced as she sat on the toilet.

Now, I know that children will copy what they hear, and I’m quite able to admit that I am no stranger to the odd expletive, but as a family, we do try not to use bad language in front of the kiddies.

Obviously, at some point, we’ve failed.

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Not only did she pronounce “Jesus” quite beautifully; She used it in the same context that a grown up might.  She was frustrated (still no poopoo!). She was trying hard and getting nowhere.  She was exasperated and she knew exactly how to express it!

She also knew that it wouldn’t be acceptable, because those pretty blue eyes immediately darted to my face to see how I would react.  She was challenging Mammy.

We’ve been here before.  The first time she ventured into Bad-word-land was with “Shup-up”.  My reaction to that was an automatic scold.  “No!  We do not say Shut-up to Mammy.  That is not nice!”

The result? “Shuppy-up” is what she now reverts to if she wants to push Mummy’s patience.

This time, I was armed and ready. I did what any clever parent would do. I did the opposite of last time. I pretended it hadn’t happened and continued talking about Mr. Poopoo needing to go for a swim.

Not getting the reaction she wanted, she said it again…this time, more slowly and dramatic. (A born actress I tell you.)

Jeeeeeeeeesush.”

This time, I decided to take the bait, but on my terms.

Yes Honey! You saw Baby Jesus in the crib at Christmas! Aren’t you a clever girl?

This wasn’t what she’d anticipated in her brilliant toddler mind, but it seemed to work.  She began to talk about Christmas and Santa and her pretty dress and her Christmas Tree.  And so, I thought I’d won.

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I thought that I’d done well.  I thought I was clever. I thought I’d distracted her and had taught her how to use the word properly. I’d turned the word back into what it is, rather than allowing it the status of swear-word.

That ‘Supernanny‘ doll should move into my house to see how it’s done.  I have it.  I’m in charge.

Smug and quite delighted with myself, I carried on with my evening. Husband would be so proud of how I dealt with the situation.  I’d be admired by friends with toddlers when I told them how to deal with their little Darling’s attempts to use bad words.  I might even win a prize of some sort.  I’d start giving lectures to parents on “Expletives and Toddlers: how to survive.”

Then I woke up.

Princess was throwing a strop.  She pulled off her Elsa dress and was screaming about her Tinkerbell Dress.  Whatever she wanted, I obviously wasn’t doing it.  It was one of those tantrums that began over virtually nothing and resulted in fire-alarm pitch screaming and stomping. She stormed into the hall…and suddenly, all of my smugness dissappeared…

BAAAABY JEEEEESUS ANYWAY!”

So, not only had I NOT dealt with this situation properly, I had given the little genius a way out.  A safe pass.  A golden ticket.  At only three years old, she had manipulated me and my words. What I’d actually done, was teach her how to use it, without getting into trouble.

I was gunked.  My jaw actually hit the floor.  I listened to hear if she’d say anything else.  She didn’t. She was waiting to hear my reaction.  She’s still waiting, because although I actually snorted with laughter, she didn’t hear me.  A few minutes later, she popped her pretty head around the corner. I carried on as if nothing had happened.

I know some people will be disgusted.  I know I shouldn’t have laughed.  I know it’s terrible that a child is able to use language like this.  But I also know, that sometimes, laughing is all we can do.

I’m not a psychologist.  I’m not a child specialist.  I’m not a genius.

I’m a mum.   I’m a mum who, once upon a time, thought smugly that my little girl would NEVER behave like that.  I’m a mum who is learning every single day. I’m a mum who will sometimes just laugh, because really, what other option do I have?

On a positive note, she’s learning. She’s testing boundaries.  She’s experimenting with language.  She’s establishing her little self in the grand scheme of things. And every day, I “Thank Jesus” that she can!

I am Swearing-Mum x

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I am Silly Mum

imagineSilly Mammy!” I hear this daily. Sometimes it’s true.

I have found that since Mini-me suddenly turned from baby to toddler, that my inhibitions have pretty much diminished.  I went from thinking I didn’t care what people thought of me, to actually not giving a toss what people think of me.  It’s changed my life for the better and I owe it all to her.

I’ve always been a performer.  I’ve dressed up. I’ve worn ridiculous costumes.  I’ve danced ridiculous dances.  I’ve even stripped to my undies…but always in the safety of the stage.  My local theatre stage has allowed me to be dozens of different characters; the Liesl, the lady, the bitch, the hooker – and more times than enough, the blonde bimbo.

But no stage equates to the characters a Mummy can assume when raising a toddler!

At present, Mini-Me often assigns my character to me.  “Look Elsa!”  or “No Anna. I have to find Sven“.  Games that require the adoption of instant imaginary persona, are even coming more naturally to my Husband, who more often than not has to break into sporadic song, (whether he likes it or not!).

I’ve been every Disney Princess imaginable.  I’ve been an elephant.  I’ve been a spaceship.  I’ve been a mouse and I’ve been a scary monster. Whatever she wants me to be really.

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Today, I am Tinkerbell (apparently) as I am donning a green bobbed wig and am dressed from head to toe in green for our St. Patrick’s Day celebration at school.  I look ridiculous.  A part of me feels ridiculous.  I wouldn’t have dreamed of dropping her to childcare and driving to school like this a few years ago. I nearly didn’t this morning!

I can’t do this…can I?” was my first though when I looked in the mirror. Then, she bounced around the corner and her wee face said it all.  She grinned and announced “Oh Mummy! Your gween hair is boooootiful! SilleeeeMammeeeee!”…and so, feck it, it stayed on.

Yes, people are laughing at me.  I made quite a few students giggle and snort as I flounced to my classroom. I’ve had colleagues shake their heads, baffled…but people are smiling.  I decided to teach my first years Ceilí dancing instead of Poetry. They loved it. So did I. They think I’m silly (or crazy as one of them happily told me!).  So do I!

But I’m having fun and if nothing else, I might just be teaching some of them that standing out and being different is harmless. If they think it’s silly, good! If they think it’s fun, even better! If they don’t like the wig, they can ignore it. Some people will always be uncomfortable with fun.  There’s not really much we can do about that is there?

Mini-me has taught me how to play again. She’s teaching me that it’s OK to be silly.  It’s much more fun than being serious all the time.  I adore how she’s happy to wear her Elsa dress into town.  I admire how she smiles happily when people tell her she’s beautiful.  I love how she spins around when someone tells her that they love her dress.  My response to that is “Penneys best!”, automatically dismissing the compliment.

We don’t take compliments very well.  We don’t usually put ourselves in the spotlight… well, off the stage anyhow.  We dress as fashion allows, so as not to stand out too much.  We’ve forgotten how to be silly.

But we should be silly.  We should wear what we want.  We should sing at the top of our voices, even if it’s awful.  We should wear green wigs if the occasion presents itself. We should teach our kids to be who they want to be, how they want to be, and not to worry too much what people think of them.

She’s teaching me to be silly.  I’ll happily oblige!  It’s liberating.  It’s free and it’s fun!

And while, I’ll be teaching Shakespeare in about 20 minutes time and being very serious, I’ll also be wearing a green wig.  What my LC class make of that, is completely up to them.

Because today, I am indeed Silly-Mum! x

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