May 19, 2006

Teaching The Difference Between "Good Taste" & "Tastes Good"

barbie_colgate.jpgThe kid's been on a beautiful bender lately, calling all sorts of things "beautiful." Usually, it's the expected things that she hears [paintings, dresses, mommy]. Sometimes it's profound enough to make you scratch your head [the purple sky and skyline at nighttime]. Sometimes, it's just obvious the kid has yet to actually develop her taste much beyond an obsession with the color purple.

Of course, as an inveterate and painful snob, I have been doubly wary--and I know there are folks out there rolling their eyes in disbelief, but I swear, it's true--of smothering her sense of discovery by imposing my own tastes on her. And that means being smiling and responsive when she declares something to be beautiful, while providing experiences and an environment in which she can discover beautiful things herself. This non-didactic, holistic approach seemed to be working fine and without incident. Until yesterday.

That's when we were walking in the drugstore, and the kid flew straight to the bottom shelf--they always put this stuff at kid-level--and, like a moth seeing her first flame, latched onto a bright pink, glittering tube of Barbie bubble gum-flavored Colgate toothpaste.

"This is beautiful! This is beautiful toothpaste!" she exclaimed.

What could I do? There's no way I'm letting that high-heeled foot in the door, especially at this age.

"No, honey, it's just pink. Beautiful and pink are not the same thing. And this is just pink."

I asked her to put it back on the shelf. A briefest pause, and she complied. And we moved on to the Diet Coke aisle without further complaint. And I thought to myself, "Whew. At least I'll never have to worry about Barbie's influence on my kid's ideals of beauty ever again."


When she's older, you can get her one of these

(unfortunately, due to the Offensive Weapons Act of 1996, she'll have to wait a while)

[yeah, like until scout camp -ed.]

Haha, Good luck with that.

As the mom of a 2-year-old girl, I'm glad to know the distinction between pink and beautiful, because I'm sure it will come up.

Be careful about imparting too much good taste in kids, though. We live in a neighborhood with lots of schlocky art galleries, which I guess I complain about a lot. The other day as I was taking my elementary-school-aged son to school, he was complaining that his art teacher gave grades for student drawings. "That's not right," he protested, "All art is beautiful." Then he looked in the window of one of the shlock galleries and said, "Well, except for that."

Beautiful is great! Anything that my (2 year old) daughter likes is instantly labeled "pink." She'll see a basket ball (not pink) and exclaim, "It's pink!" xoxo

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