When I was first pregnant, and I knew I was going to have a girl, I sat down one evening after another huge meal – half of which I’d proceeded to empty into the latrine 20 minutes later – and thought of a list of things my daughter would NOT wear or do when she became of age NOT to wear or do…things.

First of all, no flouncy, ballroom dresses. I was determined to raise a tomboy, one I would dress in sensible clothes and sensible shoes befitting sensible little girls.

Second, no Barbie dolls or Barney stuff. I don’t know, but Barney gives me the willies. A purple dinosaur with a voice like a grown man trying to be a child? Nuh-uh. Really, I do not get the appeal of some of these children’s shows and characters. Four grown men behaving like lunatics – who can guess which singing group this is?

The thing with the Barbie dolls is, I just think they’re expensive. You buy the doll and then you need the clothes and then Barbie needs a boyfriend, and pretty soon little Barbies and Kens. It just goes on and on, and it just becomes…wasteful. So, no.

Third, no make-up. She will have plenty of opportunities to plaster her skin with product when she gets older.

Of course, the experienced mommies among you now know I was just another naive mother-to-be, thinking that my daughter would be this obedient, programmable little person with buttons I could push to make sure she walked and talked and ate right without protest or tears or kicking AND screaming as though she was being fed spiders.

There is not a day that goes by that my four-year old does not take off the warm, sensible clothes I help put on her so she can climb and run and crawl with ease and comfort throughout the day, and instead don a shiny halter-neck pink cheongsam that barely even fits her (we got it two years ago), or one of the very many pink babydoll dresses with ribbons at the back and the flounciest of skirts – if that is even a word (gifts from my mother-in-law).

By noon, her face and hands are covered in costume makeup, so much so that I sometimes leave them on (to the horror of my in-laws) just so that she wouldn’t need to put too much more on the next day. Which doesn’t really make my task of scrubbing her face clean any easier, but still.

On the good days, her crazy long hair stays organised for about four hours. On the bad, in under two hours, it becomes matted in make-up and yogurt and egg yolk and rice and sometimes, even chapstick she’s managed to get her hands on even though I tell her it’s NOT lipstick and won’t show on her lips.

It don’t matter. It feels like lipstick.

Before we came to the US, she had ONE Barbie, because my cousin had completely disregarded my ‘rules’ and had gotten her a bridal Barbie, no less (thank you very much, Janice). And so, it began. Today, she has around five, thanks to McDonald’s and her friends from school. And three My Little Ponies. A Ponyville tree house. A Hello Kitty doll house. And countless little items on her birthday wishlist because these are things we HAVE to buy because not owning them would mean the end of our fair world. 

What happened? What happened?!

Life happened. She simply became this little girl I myself never was. And while Sky does seem to follow her big sister around a lot, doing everything she’s doing, I won’t be surprised if she turns out to be quite the opposite.

Or one can hope.

Since coming to the US, I have learnt to be a lot more accepting of things. That even though Barbie may be expensive or that Barney’s still as creepy as he was back on Malaysian TV, that we as parents are really powerless when it comes to our children’s likes and dislikes, which really have NOTHING to do with what we ourselves like or dislike. To respect these choices allows us to see our kids for who they are – and perhaps a small preview of the adults they may turn out to be.

Two years ago, I would’ve balked at the idea of ‘allowing’ my daughter to turn into this girly girl, so full of colour and expression, singing Twinkle Twinkle on her Barbie karaoke machine or strutting around with a tray on her mary janes pretending to be a waitress at a restaurant where she gets to wear her little skirts and a ponytail “all the way down and not up high”. Today, I simply shake my head and tell my husband, “This is all your side of the family.” I would’ve rather she be sitting quietly in her warm clothes, reading Tolstoy’s War and Peace or finishing a 5000-piece puzzle or beating her father in chess. Alas, my daughter isn’t an 80-year old man.

And today, neither do I want her to be.

Still, I have a huge problem with the thought that she might turn out to be a cheerleader or someone who might want to enter a pageant or – God forbid – American Idol. If, and when, that happens, I have only one choice, and that is to cheerlead, or enter a pageant or enter American Idol myself.

Just to see what the fuss is all about, you know.

Maybe the shock and embarassment will make her change her mind.

Maybe my daughter will grow out of all this foolish girliness.

Maybe she won’t.

At least it’ll be interesting.