Thursday, January 03, 2008

On Beauty

About 6 months ago, I began training Andrew to tell me that I was pretty. It worked really well for a while. (Somebody has to, right Brig?) I would solicit, "Is Mommy pretty?" and Andrew would reply, "Yes pretty" or "Mommy pretty." It was great. Then he learned what pretty means, and it has been down hill ever since. Now I wish I had not introduced the concept at all. He no longer feeds me my solicited compliments. Instead, my queries receive a telling silence or "Mommy no pretty." Last night he said I was ugly, but I will conceed that he does not know what that word means. I just asked him if I was ugly since he would not say I was pretty.

Brigham insists that Andrew doesnt know what he is saying. But, as much as I wished I believed that, I am pretty certain he does. For example, he will sometimes pronounce other women we see as "pretty." And they usually are, like the (very pretty) young woman walking down the hallway of our apartment complex. Andrew was watching her, and then pointed, declaring happily, "she pretty!" Models are pretty, too, when I test out his mastery of the word with the use of magazines.

While at a family gathering at my parents' house the other night, Andrew sat with Katie and Jessie watching country music videos (Katie discovered during the summer of 05, when Andrew was 7 months old, that Andrew loved this station). When I returned to the room, my sisters reported that Andrew had suddenly blurted out, "She's pretty," about the woman in the video. No, it wasn't Shania. It was Dolly Parton, and even if I thought Dolly was pretty, this was not her most flattering video. I don't know what the song was, but she was wearing a tiny cocktail sort of dress that made her look very trashy and old, and something about how she looked got Katie insisting in all seriousness that Dolly Parton suffered from dwarfism. Andrew, if you think Dolly is pretty, maybe I don't mind if you think I am ugly.

Beauty Part 2:
Andrew gave his first completely spotaneous and unprompted prayer last night. It went like this, Momo:

"Heavenly Father, Thank you for my cars. Go to sleep. Name of Jesus Christ, Amen."

We always pray that Andrew will go to sleep, partly to reinforce to Andrew that he is about to go to sleep and partly to implore for divine intervention to make him sleep. So that is where the "go to sleep" part came from. We have never thanked Heavenly Father for Andrew's toys, though. That was all him. It was so sweet to hear from his own little heart what he wanted to say to the Lord. I hope that someday soon Andrew will appreciate this kind of beauty more than the kind of beauty he now appreciates in Dolly Parton.

The following are quotes from Dolly's own mouth about her look:

"I describe my look as a blend of mother goose, cinderella, and the local hooker!"
"It takes a lot of money to make a person look this cheap!"

(I mean, Dolly Parton is a really good person, but I am fairly sure Andrew doesn't know about her inner life.) I am looking forward to him learning to appreciate the inner beauty or spiritually beautiful things (and whatever form of beauty is poor mom has to offer!). In the meantime, I will settle for him just developing mildly better taste.


Ashley said...

That's hilarious. Maybe Andrew is like my husband. He thinks that since he once told me I was pretty (sometime in 2004) that I know it and he never has to say it again. That is so sweet about his prayer! I am in primary and I love hearing the kids pray: "Please bless that we won't be too obnoxious."

Murray Family said...
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Murray Family said...

You are pretty! I've worked on training Owen to tell me that I am pretty too, but he mostly just looks in the mirror after combing his own hair and says "Now, I'm pretty." (Even though I've tried to convince him that he is handsome.) I am currently working on training Scott and have been for the last 8 years:) He is getting pretty good at responding to my prompts but still needs to work on providing the unsolicited comments!
I also wanted to tell you how much I appreciated your story of Christmas faith. That was really moving for me to read. Thanks for sharing. I was really touched.
We'd love to get together with you guys sometime soon! I'll get in touch to figure it out!

Lyndsay said...

So I'm the only one aspiring to be like Ms. Parton?
This foils my plan to have offspring that dole out compliments. My husband is much like Ashley's. If he's said a compliment at some point in our relationship, what's the point of repeating it?
Maybe the key is trying it with a different gender...

Paul & Sarah said...

Andrew is so funny! Don't worry, you are beautiful Alexandra! I think I had similar stories with my own mom though. I used to draw pictures of her where the only really defining features were these enormous spots all over her face that were supposedly her beauty marks and moles. So I know I have it coming to me too! :)

Mer Swift said...

So, basically I think child rearing in general is about the most difficult thing anyone will ever do, but I try to not think about this very much, because I freak myself out. How you choose to expose your children to media and celebrities is difficult to determine. You may think my tone is not serious. However, I assure you it is very, very serious. This is what I think of Andrew's taste...He will figure it out, because he loves his Dad and he knows his Dad thinks you are pretty. I've basically decided children are pretty much exact replicas of their parents in mannerisms, personalities, tastes, etc. So, really there's not much to parenting.

Michelle said...

Alexandra....I don't know your friend Ashley - but I 100% agree with her comment about Andrew being like her (and my) husband, that they said it once (i think mine said it in 2005),and they are never expected to say it again...anyways, you are absolutely gorgeous. We need to get together soon!

Alexandra said...
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Alexandra said...

don't worry, my self esteem has survived andrew's aesthetic tastes! what can i say, the kid likes the cheap look. thanks for the support, though :)

Jacqueline Auna & family said...

Alexandra, I think you are one of the funniest people I know! Love the Dolly Parton post, I'm always so excited to see what new post you create. I also really appreciate you sharing your Christmas story - for I often need strengthening. I admire your insight and eloquence, it's a gift.

The Hammonds said...

Emmy is constantly telling me I should have my moles cut off. Tyler has actually had to take to her and tell her to stop mentioning Mommy's moles. She also helpfully points out that I should try some of that stuff anytime she sees a commercial for a beauty product, "cause Mommy, you have some wrinkles around your eyes."