In the 1980's, Fast Times at Ridgemont High served as a warning to America about the perils of teenagers growing up too quickly and experiencing things high school kids really aren't ready to cope with. If that movie were to be remade today, it might need to be called Fast Times at Ridgemont Preschool because it seems that even the toddler set is experiencing too much, too soon these days.
I would no more buy my daughter a bedazzled, tot-sized T-shirt, which proclaimed "I'm a slut!," than I would tease her hair, give her a spray tan and enter her in a beauty pageant. Yet here I was, indulging in mother-daughter mani-pedis at an early age. It had all started innocently enough. She'd seen some little girls painting each other's nails on TV and said "Mommy, we should do that sometime." Looking at my calloused, unpolished feet, I'd suggested we get our toenails painted at a local nail salon. Two birds, one stone and all. Fun bonding with my daughter and a long-overdue treat for my feet in one fell swoop. From there, things seemed to snowball. A pre-pedi Starbucks run resulted in her getting her own (un-caffeinated) frothy, iced beverage and later, a miscommunication with the nail technician turned a pedi into a mani-pedi. Somewhere along the way, it had gone from being cute to being gross.
Often, society seems overrun with attempts to turn little girls into teenagers. Not so long ago, kids were just kids. Now, they're 'tweens. From eight-year-olds getting (or perhaps not getting) Botox injections to Abercrombie & Fitch's padded bikini tops for elementary school-aged girls, there's an overwhelming sense of kids being pressured to mature beyond their year(s). Normally, all of this disgusts me. So, how did I-- a mother who's aware of, and disturbed by, this phenomenon--wind up contributing to it with my own daughter? No, getting her a pedicure wasn't as extreme as waxing her eyebrows, but it's in the same vein of pushing little girls to grow up too quickly.
While many mothers, myself included, are outraged over the more garish aspects of this trend, many of us are complicit with it in other, smaller ways. For me, it was treating her to a pedicure. For some, it's buying baby high heels because they're funny and kind of cute. For others, it's letting toddlers have sleepovers with their friends. I've increasingly been hearing about three-year-olds having overnights with their friends. I remember my first slumber party. It was Becky's eighth birthday, we got pizza and watched Grease. The anticipation of it had been the talk of the second grade for weeks leading up to the party. If kids are starting to have sleepovers at the age of three, what's to look forward to when they're eight?
As normally rational parents, we see these things as being cute and harmless fun but the more I think about it, the more I realize we're part of the problem we usually rail against. After all, it can be a slippery slope from toddler pedicure to 'tween push-up bra.