Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Fred is five years old. Last year when she turned four we spent the day at Collingwood Children's Farm, loving being under the trees, with no clue that in six months we'd own several trees of our own, and a house to boot, out in the bush, away from the city that we love but still part of it. It's been a big year. I remember thinking when she was four that we'd moved for every year of her live, and now she's five the pattern has continued. Hopefully though we're here for a bit, to settle her roots into the good earth. Though she talks at times, in a fond sort of way, about what the next house she lives in will be like.

Ages ago, the gorgeous Jabberwocky (I wish someone paid her to blog because she's so good at it - it should be people like Jabberwocky and Muppinstuff blogging for the Age about Melbourne life, instead of tedious people called Sam), tagged me for a quirky kid meme. I had been planning to do it about Una, since she gets very little blogtime, but this seems like a nice time to do it about Fred, a birthday post. There's rules, but they're boring, so I'll skip to the six quirks.

1. She has recently begin to climb trees, she likes to sit in them and sing. Being higher than floor level has an amazing calming effect on Fred. It seems to fulfil some emotional and physical need in Fred. We have a small birdfeeding platform on the veranda and she likes sitting there too, and flicking through books or having a snack. There's something about being removed from everyone, being separate, that she really likes, though she also thrives on energy she gains from other kids.

2. She has just developed a deeply physical affection streak with adults in her greater world. At her birthday party she went around and hugged everyone (though then told them all they had to go home, because she wanted her lolly bag). Mum and Dad came to visit a few weeks ago and they said they got more hugs from her over those few days than all the previous visits.

3. She has always had incredible empathy. On the occasions that I cry, she completely changes her behaviour - no matter how massive her tantrum is, or how huge her anger is - and becomes incredibly concerned and solicitous (so I have to make a special effort not to be manipulative).

4. She doesn't like praise, unless it's very lowkey and said in the most casual and offhand of voices. It also needs to be 150% genuine and deserving.

5. Fred hates having things in her hair or wearing fancy clothes, is not interested in Barbie's clothes or hair, but she loves make up - in its presence she goes quiet and reverent. She seems to particularly struggle with the conflicting impulses in her in terms of her own femininity and her ideas about gender and is not convinced by any of my feminist rhetoric about how there are as many ways of being a little girl as there are little girls. Yet she doesn't want to resolve her conflict by 'fitting in' (phew). I have a feeling the struggle will be long and hard between what she feels and what she thinks she should be as a girl. It breaks my heart and makes me so proud at the same time. I hope as she gets older she finds a way of expressing herself - through music, dance, sport, writing, art or something else, that helps connect up her internal and external experiences of femininity in a meaningful way.

6. Fred went to church on Saturday for the first time to a wedding. When everyone was standing up and singing the first hymn she squeezed me tight and said in a loud, thrilled whisper, 'This is wonderful!'


  1. happy fifth birthday to the gorgeous fred!!

  2. happy birthday Fred! Your cake looks truly spectacular.

    and thanks Penni.

  3. Anonymous5:11 PM

    That cake is beautiful. Happy Birthday to your daughter and I REALLY enjoyed this meme, she is quite fascinating isn't she?

  4. that's the best cake ever.

    amazing meme.

    happy birthday fred!

  5. Happy birthday Fred! I remember when you were born. Golly gosh.

    What a lovely meme too, Pen.

    Hope you are well. x

  6. Very sweet cake, I may steal your idea when the girl's birthdays come around (or *ahem* adapt it).
    Five is big isn't it. It's very big here indeed with the school tie in but regardless it's a milestone birthday.
    Happy Birthday Frederique. The first time I met your Mum you were in her belly, but not for long after. XX

  7. I love the cake, it's fabulous. So stylish, too, in an understated but very sparkly way. Sounds like it suits Fred perfectly, from the meme ... It's a fun meme, isn't it? I love the point on her conflict between her idea of femininity and what she thinks it maybe should be. I really hope she stays true to who she is, too. Trying to fit in ... sigh. It must be such a sad and furstrating thing for a parent to watch.

    And thanks so much, you've made my day, really. Wouldn't that be lovely ... ?