“Mama”, she said in her sweetest voice, “I want a princess birthday”.
My first reaction was to wear my most Et tu, Bruté expression and scream: “nnnooooooooooo not a princess birthday, no no no!!” But motherhood has taught me, or so I like to think, to be patient and not have extreme reactions, even if the situation so demands! So, I took a deep breath, then in as patient a manner as I could, I tried to talk her out of it, to little avail. She was adamant and appeared to have thought it all through. She told me quite plainly that it was her birthday and that she had the right to decide what it would be. Fair, I thought, but did not give my consent. I didn’t want her to know she was winning that argument, I still thought I would give it one last push – try the dirty tricks, you know, incentives et all. It was, however, all in vain. She stood her ground and I caved. So it’s going to be a princess birthday.
Now for the debate.
There are really only two ways of looking at this. One – as a parent you have to, mostly, support your child, or at least give an impression of doing so, so just “go with it”, no matter what your personal views about it are. You might hate the fact that she wants to dress like a princess, have all these pink cut outs all over the place and have a castle cake! But, that is your view and she’s a four year old girl, influenced, unfortunately, by all she sees around her – so lump it mom and give the kid what she wants. She’ll grow out of it anyway in a few years. She’ll be happy that you did this for her. That’s one view.
The other: Nip this in the bud, stop all this pink stuff and start telling her all about mind over matter and all that cerebral stuff. If you give in now, then will you give in to all her demands just so you can be supportive? Tell her nicely; reward her in other ways but this she can’t have. She’ll protest, but eventually she’ll forget about it and be happy with what you do for her. Because, what if this is just the beginning and she does not outgrow all this? What if she actually turns into a princess? Cute now when she’s four, not so cute when she’s fifteen and all she wants to do is dress up. Nip it nip it nip it!
Sigh. I can see both sides, and I did think about it long and hard. But in the end, I decided to let her have it. I did this because I believe that despite her interest in the “princess stuff”, she also likes other kiddy things like playing in the park, doing puzzles, art and craft et all. So, this is a phase and she’ll get over it, if I resist it, she’ll get drawn to it more, so let her get it out of her system – a purge, so to speak. My niece, now eleven, was the same at four. To my sister’s absolute horror she’d dress Barbie dolls all day. Now she’s done a complete 180 degree turn and hates the stuff, in fact she thinks it’s fashionable to hate it, so she does this squirming, puhleez, action when I remind her about her erstwhile obsession. So hopefully, my little one will be the same and then, of course, I’ll balance it by getting her interested in more productive activities; I’ll distract her subtly. Also, a part of me believes that there’s really no harm in dressing dolls, it’s a part of growing up, just like having a play kitchen and cooking imaginary meals, which, by the way, she loves to do too. In any case I had sort of foreseen this eventuality when she was two and to this end, of creating a balance, had introduced her to Dora – the anti Barbie, someone who wears shorts, puts on sneakers and a backpack and goes exploring. It worked. She had a Dora birthday last year and adores her – actually thinks that Dora is a real person.
There is, however, one thing that I will not have – a Disney princess birthday! No invitation cards with the four Disney princesses posing together! There are some things where I draw the line – this is one of them!