When I was young/er and full of that – ew-no-pink-for-me, if someone had told me that my three daughters would play princess-princess in the afternoons wearing sparkly crowns, silky pink and (ugh) Disney-inspired Cinderella blue satin dresses (given as gifts, I feel the need to clarify, from dear cousin visiting from Australia) I would’ve scoffed and told that someone they needed to get their Time Machine fixed. That ain’t me honey, would’ve been my only callow retort.
Right. So what happened? As I sit here and write, my daughters – aged 6 and almost three – are shrieking with delight as they swoon from room to room playing princess games with crowns and flowers in their hair, preparing for a make-believe tea party.
How did this happen? How one earth did I allow this? I mean I never bought (and that I still never do) clothes that say cutesie things like ‘li’l princess’ or worse, ‘daddy’s li’l princess’! I read to them about adventure, goblins and the Far Away Tree (sigh, to be six again); husband and I spend many evenings with them watching Serena Williams smash the ball to smithereens and terrify her opponent to bits (as my twins ask me about what happened to Sharapova); my six year old tells me all about how Mr. Pink-Whistle would become invisible and come to her school and then there’d be lots of fun. That is what our world is usually like. I want my girls to grow up not as princesses, but as independent, thinking women who’ll chart their own course in life (as opposed to mademoiselle damsel-in-distress Cinderella)
But then, there are days like today, when Enid Blyton sits in a corner and all that the kids wants to do is play princess. Do I mind this? Does it bother me?
Well, here’s the thing. I don’t mind it, somehow. I’ve come to believe – and this has been a journey, because even after I had them I was quite convinced that I’d never allow all this pinky-Barbie-oh–pretty-pretty-stuff – that some things are a part of growing up and deprivation is not always the right thing. If I banned Barbies (much as I’d like to) the kids would only pine for them more. Let them have it, purge it out of their system and move on.
So, I allow them, in moderation, and use their non-playing time well. Also, I believe that kids need to have free play, one that is non-structured. This builds their imagination. Even if it is playing princess, they are using props using their heads and having fun along the way.
So, if princess is what they want to play, then so be it. It makes them happy, keeps them engaged and that makes for a very happy mommy! Win-win really. To a point, of course. Any signs of the stuff taking on serious tones and I would kick into overdrive, starting all the diversion tactics.
For now, it’s a pleasure watching them giggle and play. Their tea-party looks like fun and my writing table is now full of all sorts of make-believe food that I am supposed to finish soon. I am going to let them enjoy this afternoon and play.
Any mention of the prince, however, will need some mommy intervention.