This is the first week of summer break for Little Miss. It’s momentous because this also kicks off my stay-at-home mom gig – at least until the three-year-old is back in preschool in the Fall.
I have big plans for my girls and me this summer (projects! baking! museums! dance! gymnastics! playdates! beach!), but on our first day, I decided to ease into it with some freeform structure (oxymoron!). Little Miss got to pick her game of choice (princess!), and I immediately realized my grave error (ugh!).
So far, I’ve played the role of Ursula (the witch from The Little Mermaid), the wicked queen from Snow White, and the witch from Rapunzel to Little Miss’ cushy, titular roles. Hmm…I’m seeing a pattern here. Also, why are the villains all women in these tales?
When asked if we could just mix things up a bit, Little Miss generously granted me the role of one of the Seven Dwarves: Grumpy.
At least Thumper got to play Happy. She even played the Prince! Until her sloppy, open-mouthed kisses grossed her sister out, that is.
This princess business is rough on me. No, it’s not the typecasting that bothers me – I do make a better witch than a princess, I admit. But having spent much of my life fighting the pink and princess stereotypes, watching my daughter in her pink dress, pink tights, pink shoes and pink tiara makes me shudder.
I know it’s fleeting because I remember wearing a towel on my head, pretending they were cascading curls of an exotic princess when I was her age, perhaps older, but that eventually gave way to skateboards and Atari.
Even then, I couldn’t help but try to steer her away from the damsels in distress: “How about Princess Leia? She’s awesome. She doesn’t need to be saved by a prince.”
Her response both surprised and didn’t surprise me - “Well, I want to be a princess who needs to be saved.”
Deep breaths. Keep calm. Do not hyperventilate. She’s only three. Three.
I wanted to explain the merits of self-reliance. Extol the virtues of strength and independence, especially in women. That we shouldn’t depend on others to shape our destiny.
And then I looked at where I am: At home with my girls. On a Monday. All because I could no longer stomach the idea of working all day and being away from my girls while they were being raised by someone who, well, isn’t their mommy. And so My Guy made this happen. He’s busting his ass for this family so I could do this.
I suppose we could all use a little saving sometimes. And that’s something I’d like for my daughters to learn as well - to know that it’s okay to ask for help every now and then.
Just not all the time, like the freakin’ princesses in these horrible fairie tales that do nothing for a girl’s development as a woman. But I knew trying to counter her point would only make her more adamant. Instead of arguing, I chose the route of
“That’s fine; I know how you love Ariel and Rapunzel and Belle, but my favorite is still Princess Leia. I just think it’s so cool that she can fight bad guys too.”
Here, I made some ridiculous Bruce Lee moves, grateful we weren’t in public. She perked up and asked, “But does she have a Light Saber?”
“She doesn’t,” I admitted, although, what the hell, she really should! I didn’t say that though. I chose to stick with the facts. “Because she’s not a Jedi like Luke and Yoda”--
“And Darth Vader!” she interrupted excitedly.
“Yes, but she certainly knows how to use it.”
“And she can take care of herself!” Her eyes were shining now. I saw potential, and I went for the kill.
“Absolutely - She sure can! She’s the one who saves Han Solo…she may be a princess but she’s also a hero! ”
Unable to contain herself, she squealed, “A SUPER hero!”
She posed like Superman, with one fist in the air.
“Exactly.” I was loving the direction of our conversation.
"Since we played princesses all day today, how about we play superheroes tomorrow?”
“Yes!” She hissed, “I want to be Princess Leia!”
Ding! Ding! Ding! I gave myself a mental high five.
Then she added, “And you’ll be Darth Vader!”
Oh. (Sigh.) Of course.