Everyone told me that by age 3 she's be a full on Disney Princess diva. Like there was somehow no avoiding it. No matter how we raised her or what our home life was like, it would just happen. She would dictate to me what she would wear each day, and it would of course be Pepto Bismol pink with loads of sparkles. She would spend her days pretending to get married to Princes and wearing tiaras and tutus and puffy sleeved dresses. And that, I was told, is how little girls end up. Period.
Well here we are at 3 1/4 years and nothing could be further from the truth. Maybe it's having a big brother? Maybe it's this outdoor life we lead? Maybe it's because we don't have a TV and limit what she sees on a screen at all? Maybe it's just who she is.
"I'm just NAIA!", she declares to anyone who bends down and calls her Princess in sugary tones normally reserved for cats.
She could care less about clothes, which I love because then I get to dress her up any way I like.
Colors don't matter either, though she leans towards yellow. Her play is totally gender neutral. She's just as happy playing with her brother's Legos, playing with her animals and babies, or driving her little trucks around. She loves books, sorting tiny things, pestering her brother, singing, dancing, and stomping in puddles.
Dinner conversations with Naia often go something like this, "Mama does Santa Claus fart?" (yes honey, I'm sure he does) "Do you think his farts smell like candy canes and cookies?"
She is confident, outgoing, well mannered, and the boss of the whole wide world. We joke that she will one day be the supreme dictator of her own small island nation.
She loves making sure everyone is doing what they are supposed to be doing. She is also affectionate, extremely empathetic, and loving as anything.
She's of the age where people are always asking if she's in preschool yet. No, we don't plan to send her to preschool, or any school really. I am so happy to have the space enough between kids to have the hindsight about early learning and what really matters. We could care less about her learning letters, writing her name, counting, "socializing", and all the rest of the stuff gringos tend to think is necessary for little ones. After going through the paces with child #1, I have since realized and learned that those things can and will come later on and learning them early offers NO, and I repeat NOOOO benefit.
What is most important to us is that she is well mannered, considerate, helpful, joyful, curious, secure, and experiences as much as possible while in the loving circle of her family.
Playing with bugs, creating something out of nothing, knowing where food really comes from, appreciating understanding music, forming relationships, hearing poetry, testing limits, getting bored, feeling frustrated, solving problems,and most importantly just being free to be.
She doesn't need toddler ballet lessons or gymnastics or karate, (though we are doing swim lessons because ya know, we live on a boat.) She needs to be a kid. And even if one day she decides to bust out in a pink Princess dress and tiara, that's fine by me too. It's all part of growing up. I don't care if she's the first one reading or the last one finishing the race. I don't care if she can make letters or draw people or button her sweater. It will all come when she's ready. I just want her to savor this brief, beautiful ride we call childhood.
She's not a Princess or a Tom Boy. As she always reminds everyone, she's just Naia. And she's just right.