I was saying to JC right before Christmas that Silas’ interests are so strong and specific, it’s easy to buy for him. He loves art, and he loves audiobooks, and he loves China. The end. So easy! But Petra likes a lot of different things, and it seems like she hasn’t found Her Thing yet. She’s three, so she hasn’t had a whole lot of time to figure that out.
But I’m seeing bits emerging of who I think she’s shaping up to be, and I’m curious how much to read into them. To be clear, I’m not talking about personality–that’s been clear since day 1, and in many ways hasn’t changed (cheerfully stubborn). I mean her interests and what she gravitates toward. At Christmas, my dad said, “I know you’re trying to raise your children to be androgynous*, but you have to admit that Petra gravitated toward all the sparkly girly things.” And I pointed out that every present that had her name on it was sparkly and girly. Kids sure like things you give them.
She does like sparkly things, and so does Silas. JC’s cousin sent me some vinyl S’s and P’s to put on shirts for them as I was testing out a new-to-me technique, and although they could have chosen black, both selected the red sparkles, because why wouldn’t you?
So yes, she’s a bit on the traditionally girly side–she’s certainly more gender-normed than Silas is, by a lot. But the deeper stuff? The stuff that doesn’t come from a store or a cultural narrative or Sophia the First? The stuff that goes beyond little-kid-play that everyone does? That’s what I’m trying to dig for in this post.
For one thing, she said to me the other night, “I have a tool box, but it’s only toy tools. When can I be big enough for a real tool box?” I told her maybe in a year or two. She said, “Can it have a cordless drill?” !! She does like fixing things and taking things apart, so I understand why she’d want them, but wow. How young is too young for a cordless drill? Good question.
One other clue I’ve been pondering: Petra doesn’t sit still for a whole movie. She will watch for about 20 minutes and then beg one of us to go play with her in another room. Silas, even at three, was always eager to watch for as long as we would let him. There have, however, been a handful of recent exceptions. Tell me, other than exceptional good taste, what can I conclude about my daughter from this list, all of which she watched with rapt attention:
- Big Hero 6
- Song of the Sea
- The Secret World of Arrietty
- Chicken Run
The only thing that jumps out at me is that three out of four (all but Song of the Sea) feature interesting engineering–all the tech in BH6, the various ways the Borrowers use human-scale things in Arrietty, and the chicken pie machine and homemade airplane in Chicken Run. What else is here that might give me a hint about what books or toys to put in her hands next?
Watching both of them grow into themselves is an endless fascination.
*Not exactly true, see this post.