It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Pretty as a Princess

If there ever was a child I had less pegged to emerge as a fluff-and-fripperies girl, it was Anna. Solid and cheery, with a hearty laugh and a terrific sense of humour, she charges around with more bruises on her chubby legs than two or three of the other kids combined. She climbs, she jumps, she wrestles. She takes tumbles and laughs. She takes pride in her bruises and scabs. She also shoves and jostles and shrieks with outrage at a more consistent level than the others.

Girly-girl? Not this one.

And yet. It is Anna who must, must, MUST wear a dress each and every day. The other day she showed up in a weather-appropriate pair of sweat pants and a matching zipped hoodie. The second her “I pulled rank” dad left, she was burrowing in her bin looking for a dress. She did not find one, (I hid it while I was ‘helping’ her look for it) and the world was a very, very bleak and unkind place for short, LOUD while…

It is Anna who MUST wear “dancing shoes”, which is to say, anything with bows, ribbons, sequins and/or brilliant colours — and a total lack of tread. Other, more sensible pieces of footwear accompany her to Mary’s house, but they only get on her feet under duress. “You may not come to the park unless you put on your running shoes.”

The other day she came carrying these:

“These are my princess shoes! I wearing princess shoes!”

I look at dad. You can’t tell so much from the picture, but the entire upper surface is layered with a mosaic of sequins in browns and golds. Quite gorgeous. How much care and concern do I need to lavish upon this spectacular pair of the Mama’s shoes? “Are these very treasured shoes?”

“They are to Anna!”

Too true. It was pouring all day, we were inside all day, and she wore them All.Day.Long. All the long, loud day. Anna called them “clop-clop shoes”, too, which is about right. She shuffled about the house, the heels wallopping the floor behind her. “Shhh-Bam! Shh-bam-bam-shh-bam-bam-bam-shh-bam! Bam!”

Any thoughts I may have had of losing them during naptime were scuppered when she demanded to sleep with them. All curled up, the heels pressed against her chest, the pointy toes nudging the wee chin, the sequins gleaming softly in the dim light. A girl and her footwear. Aaaaawwww… (No pictures; I didn’t want to wake her with the flash.)

I’ll be curious to watch this one grow up. Sequins and skirt and chortles and ribbons and tutus… bumps and bruises and wrestling and bellow of fury … which will win out?

Or will she be the world’s first rugby player in sequined jersey and heels?

June 6, 2008 - Posted by | Anna, individuality, quirks and quirkiness, the cuteness!


  1. Oh, I have one of those! She’s six now, and so far I must say they both win out, there are a whole lot of pretty tights with holes in them and horribly scuffed pretty-princess shoes, and I do a lot of laundry. A LOT.

    This dress was originally pink (and the kid was not originally quite so grey).

    Too cute! It’s nice when a child has balance!

    Comment by Robyn | June 6, 2008 | Reply

  2. I had hopes Pumpkinpie would stay as she was at two – wearing a tutu and a hard hat together, the best of both worlds, but she came over all girly, too. Complete with horrid pink plastic “clip clops” that somebody gave her for a birthday. Not that I can say much about liking shoes…

    “Best of both worlds”. Maybe she’ll come back to it! Just because you like shoes doesn’t mean you have to be a total diva, expecting the world to bow to your service when you wrinkle your pretty wee nose. I’ll bet her mother doesn’t…

    Comment by kittenpie | June 6, 2008 | Reply

  3. Perhaps some sequined knee pads would be in order? So cute!

    If they existed, Anna would have a pair!

    Comment by Lady M | June 6, 2008 | Reply

  4. Whenever you write about “your” Anna, I think of my daughter – three in under a month, also named Anna – and how similar they sound. She is also very active, a sequins-and-bandaids dresser, and is never without pink in her wardrobe – something she definitely did not learn from me.

    I love the sequins-and-bandaid look. (‘My’ Anna didn’t learn the pink thing from her mother, either. It’s just who she is!)

    Comment by lisa | June 6, 2008 | Reply

  5. Love it! I love kids who know they can be whatever they want even if it involves messing up our adult barometers of what “types” of kids are out there! Last year my tomboyish daughter went to a preschool for two mornings a week in which there was only one other girl. My daughter hated dresses and just wanted to climb; the other girl never stopped running around and chose a race car as her “symbol.” Midway through the year a third girl joined. She was the smallest kid in the class, always wore skirts and princess shoes, and was hands down the loudest, liveliest, rowdiest, and sometimes the most defiant kid in the group! I found it hilarious and so telling that those were the representative girls!

    They are who they are, and we just have to let them get on with it, I think!

    Comment by Lynnie | June 7, 2008 | Reply

  6. That is so cute and adorable.

    The girl and those shoes!

    Comment by Cheryl | June 7, 2008 | Reply

  7. Haha…that’s me. 🙂 I go to karate in my skirt, get changed into my gi, get thrown around for two hours, then come home in my skirt to show off my bruises.

    It’s good when one role doesn’t limit you, isn’t it? Can be physically strong and resilient, can be pretty and feminine. One doesn’t preclude the other, in either direction.

    Comment by Karin | June 7, 2008 | Reply

  8. That sounds like my daughter in preschool! She insisted on dresses, ruffle socks, and buckle shoes. Now she rarely wears a dress and has amassed an amazing collection of Converse All-Stars, Chuck Taylor classics in a rainbow of colors.
    BTW, I’ve tagged you for a meme. It’ll be up Monday (tomorrow) on Compost Happens.

    It’s fun to watch them move from phase to phase, and see them trying on different personas in adolescence, figuring out who they are.

    Comment by Daisy | June 8, 2008 | Reply

  9. Sometimes I find it a bit strange that we have swung so far in the pursuit of gender equality that being a “girly-girl” is considered so undesirable — even if one comes by it naturally. Of course I wouldn’t like a daughter of mine to sit on the sidelines in her ruffled dress and patent Mary Janes while everyone else is having fun and being active. But not all of us are cut out to be rough-and-tumble, rowdy, defiant and lively.

    I understand that part of it is wanting to discourage little girls from being overly focused on appearance, and I fully support that. But I would be a hypocrite to see that as an adult woman, I don’t find SOME level satisfaction and enjoyment on making myself look nice.

    I have absolutely no argument with anything you said. In my post, I was entertained by the seeming mismatch between her girly and tomboy tendencies, curious to know which will prevail, and my only objection to the shoes is their volume. Those things were LOUD.

    Comment by Lucy | June 9, 2008 | Reply

  10. Wow! She did better than me. I’m sure they’re the same as the shoes I bought for a friends wedding, but I had to practise walking around in them beforehand (yes – clop, clop, clop). Unlike Anna, I couldn’t have kept my shoes on all day – and mine were the correct size for my feet.

    Comment by Three-Legged-Cat | June 9, 2008 | Reply

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