Keep her off the pole

When Sophie was born, my surf-dude neighbors kept repeating this piece of advice: “Just keep her off the pole.” As in pole-dancing. That, they assured me, was the goal of parenting a daughter: just keep her from becoming a stripper or a pole-dancer and you will have succeeded. It was a joke (and disrespectful to actual sex-workers, I know), and it was a relief from the anxiety of new-parenting, in which every single decision about BPA plastic or breastfeeding-timing or sleep philosophy seemed unduly crucial. “Just keep her off the pole,” they assured me.

But now that Sophie is two and a half, I am not sure that I am keeping her off the pole. She tends to greet guests by inviting them to join her in twirling sparkly underpants while dancing round the living room and proclaiming, “The party starts right now.” Or “The potty starts right now.” It’s tough to tell which phrase she is actually singing, because our library’s various toilet-skills videos have encouraged Sophie to elide the words potty and party.

Lately, each one of our visitors (generally Ben’s biking buddies, single guys in their thirties) has cheerfully accepted the underwear that Sophie thrusts into their hands, while she orders them, “Flap your wings.” I keep trying to explain that her favorite singer Hullabaloo encourages wing-flapping with small scarves, not underwear. To Sophie, underwear IS wings, and she is quite insistent about how this wing-underwear must be flapped: in a circular motion, not up-and-down. Our friends simply raise their eyebrows, then flap their wings.

I am hoping that this is a phase, a temporary by-product of Sophie’s successful toilet-training. I am hoping that, in the long run, I will actually manage to keep her off the pole.

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