Monday, October 3, 2011

Guest post: The Mini-Me

Sometimes, I am jealous of my husband's relationship with our daughter. They play games I don't follow, tell inside jokes, and make up words. Neither cares if the beds are unmade, there is applesauce on her shirt, or if daddy hasn't shaved in weeks. They have the same goofy sense of humor. I have been described as many things in my life, both positive and negative, but "goofy" has never been one of them.

But lately their relationship has been strained by our daughter's insatiable interest in all things "girlie" - princesses, fairies, pink ruffles, dresses, dance shoes, jewelry, etc. My husband threw an adult tantrum when she refused to go to the park with him because she would have to take off her "dance shoes" ballet flats with rhinestones pasted on- a big no-thank-you to my mom....), which are not to be worn outside. We created that rule thinking it would limit her wear of the shoes, never anticipating she would instead opt out of playtime with dad. He threatened to throw out the dance shoes and all her dresses if she did not take them off immediately and come outside. Predictably, she burst into tears. Even though I know he is just upset that he could be losing his best little buddy, I got annoyed at what I judged to be a total over-reaction.

With Halloween coming up, my husband wanted to circumvent the possibility she would insist on dressing up as something he found unbefitting his exceedingly bright daughter. He proactively found and purchased this:

For some very muddled reasons- that I will attempt to clarify here- I think I would be more comfortable if she were to dress up as The Supreme Fairy Queen from the Land of Helpless Dimwits and Antiquated Ideals of Feminine Virtue than wear this outfit out on October 31. The fact that my husband will be out of town, leaving me alone to parade my daughter around the neighborhood dressed up as a mini-me, certainly isn't alleviating my discomfort.

And to be fair, I think I should mention that last year we dressed her up as an astronaut and the year before she was a zookeeper. At age 2 1/2, she takes swim lessons and Spanish classes. Next year we hope to start her in Mandarin and ballet. We have chosen to pay more for what we believe to be a better preschool. In short, we are exactly the sort of middle class people with high parental expectations to which this sort of merchandise is marketed.

So why does this costume make me feel so, well, squeamish?

I guess some of my unease is easily explainable. I know way too many physicians who dislike our profession, a profession that was chosen for them by their parents. I vowed long before I became pregnant that I would never pressure my child to enter medicine. If he or she wanted to go to medical school, they would do so with a more complete understanding of the life of a physician than I had when I made the same decision.

But there is just something about medicine that makes parents think "it will be good for her", just like Mandarin class I suppose, and results in some obedient little children being pushed into a career that is just too demanding when pursued on a parent's behalf. It is perhaps internally inconsistent that I am completely content to be the mom with the vocabulary flashcards but am emotionally tortured by even appearing to pressure my daughter into medicine.

I may not be a perfect parent (and truthfully, some days I am just shooting for "acceptable") but I hope to encourage my daughter to contribute to society in a manner of her choosing that that fulfills her emotionally and intellectually. If that isn't in medicine, than at least she won’t incur as much educational debt as I did.

And we might have found a solution to my mini-me misgivings. She is very excited about the doctor's costume, but wants to be a "dancing doctor". Since my husband will be out of town, I might just let her pair her coat and scrubs with those rhinestone encrusted shoes. And some fairy wings.

s is a heme/onc fellow in California. She blogs at


  1. My mom chose to dress my sister as a nurse and me as a doctor one year. Not to pressure us towards our future professions, but because she was an OR nurse and could borrow scrubs and a few gadgets and dress us up for free!

    Now we are adults, and my sister is an OR nurse and I am a pediatrician! I have a picture of the two of us from that Halloween on my desk at work. Make sure to bring your camera!

    (So far I haven't dressed my girls up as doctors--they are only 1 and almost 3 this year and will be dressed as a princess and Minnie Mouse. Sigh.....)

  2. I have three girls and my husband picks his battles. They are very girly but love having one on one time with daddy. We got them "dress shoes" from Nike so they could still wear their dresses(with leggings under) to run around the park and kick the soccer ball. My youngest loves trucks and trains so they have that to share.

    Halloween costumes at our house are their choice, but they have to make them from materials already in my house. This year my older two are on an Egyptian kick: one wants to be Isis, the other the Sphinx. Happily we are out of the princess phase.

    So far, my eight year old wants to be an architect, and my six year old is thinking she wants to be a judge.

    Let her have her princess phase but start talking about how the princess could save herself.....

  3. It is strange to see doctor parents feel ashamed about possibly influencing their children's profession choices. Why actor parents are proud if their kids are actors, and not ashamed to jump start their kids careers with connections. Every parent probably could and should give their kid inside opinion about their career, to aid the free choice made. I am not ashamed of my profession, and have fun looking at dermatology atlas with my 6 yo. He even takes it with him on a car ride. Does not mean I am pressuring him into anything. One thing I am sure of - I am going to tell my kids if their free career choices are employable. Enjoy trick and treating.

  4. I don't think s is ashamed of her profession but is honest about it. It is tough, especially for women. Now I do show my girls how rewarding it is, too. They have come to the office with me and love telling people that mommy is a doctor. If one of them wants to medicine, that is great but I want them to explore all of their options to find their avocation. Who wants to do medicine if it is only a chore and not something you love. That is asking for burnout.

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  6. I LOVE the doctor costume, though I completely understand why you might feel awkward trick or treating with her wearing that. It's kind of like.... bragging, or ostentatious pressure to be a doctor on your child that other people might perceive as inappropriate. Not that that's right... but I can see how it might be seen that way. (My husband and I were recently thinking of baby names and quickly threw out one combination because the initials read "D.R." for a similar reason.)

    Personally, I think your daughter's idea of sprucing up the costume with her dancing shoes sounds like a fabulous idea.

  7. It sounds like you both need to relax and let your daughter have her whims as long as it isn't hurting her or anyone else. When she is 16 and wants to go to a Halloween party dressed as a playboy bunny you will long for the day when she wanted to be a princess or a ballerina.

    Personally, I think this obsession with making sure our nation's children do everything "right" is getting oppressive to the actual children. My 2yo daughter can go from insisting on wearing a particular frilly pink bow in her hair one minute to crying the next minute because I won't stop the car do she can ride on the tractor that's parked on the side of the road. I don't interfere in her interests too much and she is becoming a well-rounded individual without my direction.

    I say you take her to the Halloween store and let her pick out a costume (that is appropriate for a 2 year old) and walk her around the neighborhood so she can show it off and collect some candy...and don't think about how this will affect her career 20 years (because it won't.)

  8. My husband is pretty crazy with the anti-pink too. When we went shopping for costumes, my daughter was not allowed princess costumes or a wedding dress. Last year she was supergirl and this year she's a pirate.

    Two years ago (age 2), she had this crazy unicorn costume that wasn't appropriate for daycare, so I sent her in an alternate scrubs costume. It said "MD" on the pocket but everyone asked her if she was a nurse.

  9. My son (6) has recently started talking about being a doctor. He also talks about being a magician and Harry Potter, so I don't worry too much. My daughter (8) loves animals and wants to be a vet.

    Halloween is different. They like to be fantastical. Last year Cecelia was death. Jack was a ninja. This year C wants to be something really scary (scarier than death?) and J wants to be Harry Potter.

    For my daughter, I encourage science and math in school. I honestly don't care if she becomes a fashion designer, but I would want her to have good business sense.

    They do grow out of the princess phase rather quickly. Encourage your husband to enjoy it while it is here - it's awfully cute, and someday soon she will be rolling her eyes at princesses.

    I personally want to be the fairy dancing doctor - sounds much more fun than being a lab rat pathologist. Love it!

  10. On the topic of the dress up clothes-- why not let her wear them outside? They'll wear out sooner and she'll figure out they don't work well in real life.

    On the topic of halloween costumes, we managed to avoid being a princess except for one year. Lots of options-- she was Tigger, a turtle, a mermaid, Frodo. Mostly we made the costumes together. She got to 'choose' although we steered away from certain options. But the doctor thing is cute and I wouldn't over think it. It's just for one night.

  11. I have to echo Melissa's comment. As the mom of 3 kids who are now a bit older, I see that all the activities, classes, etc, etc, I thought were important or necessary at age 2.5 were...well, not that important and, in any case, totally unnecessary. The things we stressed over crack me up now. Who cares whether she wears jewel-encrusted shoes or Disney princess costumes or overalls and a pair of fake glasses with a big nose and a black 'stache? All of these phases are cute. All of them will pass, quickly. And, as for all the activities, that's wonderful that you are exposing her to different things, but take my word for it when I tell you that you have a good 15 years ahead of you when you will do nothing but shuttle your kid(s) from one activity to another, activities that they are begging to do. Don't start the frenzy any earlier than you have to.


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