This morning while we were getting shoes and coats on, my daughter said to me, "Mom, why don't I have pretty coats like Sarah? All I have is this coat." And she gave the coat an appropriate look of disdain. So I asked her what kind of coats Sarah has. She told me she had pretty pink, pretty purple, and other pretty coats. Notice her liberal use of the word pretty. That was just in case I didn't understand that she thought her coat was decidedly un-pretty.
Now some of you may think that it was a clever ploy on my daughter's part to convince me to buy her a new coat (or two.) But if you knew my daughter, you would know that it was actually a question - why? Why don't I have more pretty coats? Why does someone else have something that I would like, and why don't I have it too?
And, oh boy, did that open up a whole can of worms with me. On one hand, I wanted her to appreciate her current coat, which is a very nice one. Other people have said how nice it looks. But it is, unfortunately, not pink or purple. She has a good coat that serves it's purpose well, thankyouverymuch. And on the other hand, I wanted her to know that there will be things that other people have that we want, and that's okay. It happens to us all - we see things we would like to have, but for whatever reason we can't or won't have them. And on yet another hand (this must be the ever-elusive third hand I'm talking about) I wanted to go get her a pink coat and a purple coat and a whole bunch of other pretty, pretty coats.
It's that third "hand' that gets me into trouble. I don't want to start my daughter on a I have things that are better than yours kind of cycle. She's already competitive - very, very competitive. She's the child who will notice your seashell collection, for example, and instead of telling you that yours is a very nice collection, she will tell you that she has a bigger collection that she collected on a very special trip to the beach. And did she mention that her collection is bigger? So you can see why I don't want her to start comparing her clothing (or herself) to others. Because there will always be something bigger and better. There will always be someone who has more, who has nicer, who has prettier.
And isn't that what we, as women - nay, as parents - should not encourage in a little girl? We don't want our little girls to always be comparing themselves to others. It will only lead to being an adult who never feels good enough. Or maybe it will lead to being an adult who needs to feel superior to others, who always tries to put other "lesser" people in "their place." And that, oh my goodness, is not what I want for my little girl.
I want my little girl to feel comfortable with what she has and who she is. I want her to strive to be a better person because it's what she wants, not what she thinks others want for her. I don't want her to take a look around and find herself lacking in any way. I want her to feel pride for herself and what she has in life. I want her to be a confident girl who turns into a confident woman.
So all that leads to one question: Do I buy her a new coat? Because there, um, seems to be a lot at stake here.