I like to know a little bit about every stage of Mishka’s young life. It dawned on me that so many of her developmental milestones were sometimes taken for granted. We don’t always acknowledge the major steps they take from one age to another.
As Mishka’s 6th birthday is nearing, I’m trying to treasure some of her pre-school moments and milestones. And I realised that her Birthdays also tied in with these different stages.
The first time Mishka wanted a say in her party was when she turned four. It was also a time when she started to show a little bit more independence, she wanted to spend more time playing on her own, she started to express herself a little bit better. And of course, independence meant she wanted to dress herself. Well, for most of her transition from 3 to 4, Mishka wanted to wear her Spiderman outfit. Not only because her cousin had the same outfit, but because she was fascinated with Spiderman’s agility and webs.
I wasn’t surprised to read that at four a child’s imagination is in hyperdrive. This was a time when she explored these different roles, and she could play for hours, putting out her hand just like Spiderman, pretending to reach out with a string of spider silk to pull herself up on the jungle gym. It didn’t end with Spiderman; she was also into any superhero with a cape. Endless make-believe sessions, flying from her bed to a floor cushion.
This is quite scary for a mom! While she was exploring her new-found make-believe world with so much confidence in the way she moved I was just biting my lip and trying not to overprotect her. It was a fine balance between keeping her safe and letting her be. Even though she had so many new physical skills, her little brain was still just that of a three-year-old going on to four.
Superheroes played quite an important role in her life at that age, and I think it was also this transition from looking to me for reassurance in every new situation as a little baby girl to this new found bravery. I love this reminder I picked up from an article:
Bravery doesn’t mean fearlessness. It means we do not let fear hold us back from exploring new opportunities, developing our skills, and doing what is right. For a four-year-old, courage might look like meeting a new teacher, trying an activity for the first time, or talking about situations that make them feel scared.
Nonetheless, I decided to honour her wish to have a superhero Birthday party. She was adamant to have everything in blue and red, probably the Spiderman influence, but I convinced her that pink, yellow and turquoise are much more fun!
Something that struck me about her birthday party wish list: she didn’t want any boys there! It was quite a surprise to me that this was a thing! At four children become more aware of gender differences. This is a time when kids start to notice when Daddy is doing something that Mommy ‘is supposed to do’ or noticing that a man has a ponytail. Or a boy may think a girl who plays rugby is uncool. Gender roles become exaggerated at this age, and stereotyping is very prominent.
I thought nothing of it and granted her wish, I didn’t look into it too much,
as we sometimes have to accept that this is yet another stage and not permanent. As long as I can emphasise that there should be no judgement.
To me, it is just a privilege to enjoy these transitions, to understand what is happening in her body and mind, to grasp why she wanted an all-girl superhero party instead of a mixed gender swim party.
What can we do but encourage their independence, listen to their frustrations and guide them through their uncertainties?
I found that Mishka is quite at ease when she is exploring, for example when we are in a natural setting, so I’ve decided to expose her to nature a bit more, to encourage questions and curiosities about natural phenomena, so next time we will show and tell about our first Whale Festival in our new home town!