Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The perfect sense of self.

At the weekend my cousin, Joanna's daughter, turned three.

It is easy to be biased where family members are concerned, but Freya Grace is truly one of the sweetest little girls I know.

Not only is she is very pretty, with shiny blonde hair and enormous blue eyes, but she is well behaved, confident and articulate. She is a joy to be around. We are a loud family when we get together and Freya is never in the least bit fazed. She visits everyone's chair in a restaurant and is happy to share all her news.

I am sure it is the same in all families. When a new member is born we are all keen to chase the connection and see how this perfect little person is connected to ourselves. A new shoot on the family tree. A chip off one of the already existing blocks. Who does she take after and why? So here are some links - just for starters....

From her father.  - Freya inherits her incredible blue eyes and her aptitude for sport.  (No sign yet of a passion for Luton Town FC but maybe that's a good thing....)

From her mother - many things of course, but when I heard that  Freya was excelling in her ballet class, I couldn't help thinking of the tap dance routines that Joanna used to perform for we the relatives.  Any hard surface would do....

From her Aunty Emma -  Strong will and determination. Freya recently found a way to scale the kitchen cabinets in order to steal a muffin from the counter top. The muffin was taken away from her and she was told not to do such a thing again. But Freya was not put off. She risked the fairly dicey climb a second time and was caught, muffin handed, once again. Freya's Aunty Emma was a notoriously strong willed and inventive toddler, so perhaps that trait came from her..?

From my daughter, Amy - A love of handbags. Both Amy and Freya's handbag collections would turn Paris Hilton green with envy as would the hair clips and rings and bracelets.

From her Cousin (a couple of times removed) Isabelle - the preference for dresses. Isabelle is famous for doing everything, including horse riding, bike riding, rock wall climbing, snowball fighting, water rolling......... in a dress. I have yet to see Freya wear anything else.

From her grandfather, Frank the Farmer, - an interest in horticulture. Freya had a plant in her room. Most two year olds would refer to it as her pink flower. Freya uses the correct terminology and calls it her pink pelargonium. She also remembers that it should only be watered on Sundays. Apparently it is reaching quite a size.

And so I could go on. Whose laugh is that? Whose smile? Who else in the family has a tendency towards x, y or z?

What would Freya think about all this? Not a lot, because she does not see herself as an extension of any other person. She has such a strong and healthy sense of herself.

 Last Christmas, Santa bought Freya a Cinderella outfit but she refused, point blank, to put it on.  In spite of her love of dresses and accessories she could not be persuaded to don the beautiful blue and white gown, the glittering tiara and delicate 'glass' slippers.  The family were astounded. They had expected Freya to love the costume and to put it on straight away. Everyone tried to talk Freya into wearing it. "If you put it on you'll be like Cinderella," they told her.

 Freya's answer was emphatic. 'But I'm not Cinderella. I am Freya Pueschel'.

When Joanna told me this I laughed. I could just picture the stubborn shake of the glossy blonde head and the upward tilt of the chin.  But when I thought about the conversation later I began to love the story for what it said about Freya. She does what she does because she is who she is. She is not copying someone else or trying to impress. She sports the clothes and accessories because she likes them, dances because she loves the feeling it brings, kicks a football and runs because she can and, if the opportunity presents itself and she is in the mood, will find a way to reach a forbidden muffin, even if it is high up on a counter top and she has been told a definite 'NO".

How wonderful it must be to feel so confident and free. To be completely happy living in ones own skin.

So now, when  I find myself wishing that I was someone different, (or at least a better, more organized, more successful version of myself), I will remember the words of my young relative and be happy being just being me. 

* Photo of Freya  included with kind permission from her mummy, my cousin, Joanna Pueschel

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