Friday, December 01, 2006

Space, the final (girl) frontier

I am raising Goldilocks. Nothing is ever just right. Take the upcoming birthday party, lovingly whizbangingly brainstormed
by two parents who know their kid pretty well and pay attention. She loves space stuff. Her favorite TV show is old Trek, followed closely by Dr. Who. She has watched 5 out of 6 of the Star Wars movies (the most recent one is still a little too
scary and graphic for us to let her watch it) and has enjoyed them all. She has done a stop-motion animation film with
her Star War figures. She adores planetariums, she builds spaceships with Legos, she just plain is interested in space. Ok, so what could be better, we figure, than throwing her a space party? Bake a UFO cake. Serve chicken and stars soup. Make flying saucers as crafts. Play pin-the-tail-on-the-comet. Little styrofoam make your own solar systems. Too cool, right?
What eight-year-old wouldn't love that?


"But that's not a girl thing. None of my friends will come!" she wailed. She goes to a local Montessori where the kids are all pretty into space stuff...and where there's not much idiotic gender-typing going on in the class programming. We were
blindsided by this sudden anxiety that her interests were not authentically "girl" interests.

Resisting my first impulse, which was to tell her that little girls who act like turds get no birthday parties, I decided to explore a little further. "Why don't you think that Carrie won't like a space party? Or Kaley? When we went to the planetarium with them, they loved it. And Vama and Julia and Sapphie all had fun with the science experiments at the science center. Why wouldn't they want to come over to your house for a couple of hours and play space stuff with you?" (No reasons. Just more "girls don't like space stuff.") "You like space stuff, right?" (yes.) "You're a girl, right?" (yes.) "Are you maybe underestimating
your friends? Don't you think that they like what you like or that they like you enough to want to share your interests
on your birthday?" (Nooooooooo.)

Then that look she has. Always that look. The look that says "I'm about to counter-offer."

"Well, it was just that I was thinking...hoping...maybe..."

Spit it out. Mom and Dad have just spent a month dreaming up space games for a party. This had better be good.

"Well....I was thinking more like snowflakes. And snow. And penguins and stuff."

"You mean..." I say, trying to bridge between these ideas, "like if we pretended that the house was a snow planet? With
a polar cave and snowflakes hanging from the ceiling and light blue streamers and stuff?"


Phew. That was close.


jo(e) said...

Quick thinking there on the compromise!

imfunnytoo said...

Damn. I'm missing a lot of coolnes not knowing her well...

I'm sorry for you that she's a trekker (running and hiding)

But.Not.Really (Bwhahaahahah)

listmaker said...

Oh, the angst of birthday party planning....can't say that I miss it. Although, a snow party sounds pretty great.

...jg said...

Chicken and stars soup at a space party is why you are a lovable person.

Okay, there are other reasons, but that's an awfully good one.

(Also, glad to see you writing again--I might try that sometime, too!)

bridgett said...

The lesson here for the adults is to back off and don't get caught up in the overmanagement of child fun. The kids don't care what color the tablecloth is, y'know? (Well, these particular set of kids might, as they are all privileged, highly creative, assertive types who might just tell you that a hotter shade would work better. And then they'd build a hand loom from a cardboard box and weave a little swatch just to show you what they were talking about.) But I'm feeling another post coming on about children's birthday parties -- nod to you, Joe, as I've enjoyed your writing about how to do (and not do) parties -- so I'll put a cork in it.