Hindsight Parenting: Anything Can Be a Princess Thing
Princesses, Ila and a New Pair of Glasses
Upon finding out that the child I was carrying was a girl (maybe even eons before) I vowed the vow of a mother’s will that my daughter would not under any circumstances be one of those—ugh—princess girls. Princesses, at least the ones that I grew up with, were weak and daft, consumed with their looks and gowns and unable to solve life’s problems without the help of that ever handsome, ever tall, ever strong, ever wise prince or knight in shining armor. Blech. Double blech. It certainly didn’t help that I read voraciously over and over ‘those’ types of books my entire childhood and I BELIEVED and tried desperately to live out the scandalous lie that there would always be a man to scoop you up and set you right.
Being forty and pregnant, Hindsight was already working (although I hadn’t realized it yet.) I had somewhat cynically learned that there were in fact no knights, no princes and even the more unsettling lesson that those of the opposite gender could actually be the ones who put the princesses in peril. No. I was determined that this daughter of mine was going to be strong and independent. She was going to be her own problem solver, seeing life as a series of puzzles that she would take pleasure in solving…alone…not relying on one person except herself…
However, as the voice of Hindsight finely tuned itself over the years, I began to remember that setting out to shape your child one way or the other, even for valiant reasons, can be disastrous, and so I reluctantly let go of the princess reigns a bit…just a bit. Hindsight, as we all have learned by now, has taught us that balance is key. Balance. So while we read the classics to her; Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Cinderella, we always coupled those with the rarer “princesses are strong and intelligent” books we found like, The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munch and Cinder Edna by Ellen Jackson, whose main characters used their intelligence to solve problems and in fact down played the idea that princesses had to look perfect.
And then miraculously, there came an incredible show, Sophia the First, whose main character embodied all that I wanted for my daughter, and she just happens to be a princess. Not a princess in the regular way mind you, but a common girl whose mother just happens to marry the king. In each episode, we watch Sophia navigate the world of royalty in her way, not bending to its will, but changing it to fit her feisty, independent spirit. In one episode, Sophia decides to join the flying derby team (think polo but with winged-horses.) She is told by the other princesses, princes, even the coach that flying derby is NOT a princess thing. Well in the end, with hard work, help from her step-brother, grit and tenacity, she makes the team and even impresses her more traditional princess step-sister. The show is like a mini Broadway musical every week, and so during this particular episode, Sophia sings a song against the naysayers, “I believe that ANYTHING can be a princess thing!”
I have to admit, that we…yes WE…are both hooked. My girl is a princess girl. She loves gowns, high heels, tiaras, and ballroom dances with her daddy to the classical music preloaded onto her keyboard. Thanks to new princesses like Sophia, Merida from Brave and, yes, even the traditional old school princesses she has learned valuable life lessons like never giving up on what you want, that loyalty is virtuous, princesses (and other honorable humans) don’t break promises and always speak the truth and most importantly, kindness is essential.
So as Hindsight often does, he has helped me shift my thinking at least a few millimeters about this princess craze that has taken over the preschool girls of the world. Although I am still a fierce opponent to a “damsel in distress,” I have learned that truly, like any other book in the world, that princess tales can help teach and shape and mold our young girls into a strong batch of future women if we mine carefully for the important lessons that we can find in each.
Never was that more evident than earlier this week when my daughter, Ila, received her first pair (of very thick) glasses (purple and pink with rhinestone studs on the sides…) as she peered into the mirror, she at first had a huge smile on her face. After all, she could finally see! But slowly, ever so slowly, her smile faded. Before I could even ask what was wrong, she wrinkled her brows, scowling with the best of them, took the tiara off her head and said, “I can’t be a princess anymore.”
“What do you mean?” I asked. She replied, “Princesses don’t wear glasses.” My heart deflated at the realization that none–NOT ONE–of the princesses in our repertoire wore glasses. I began to silently curse the industry of the perfect looking princess, but Hindsight once again pulled me up short. “How would Sophia handle this?” he whispered, and at once I had the answer.
Now you may think that this is crazy, but in our house it isn’t…music is a prevalent as breathing in our little world, and so I began to sing the song that Sophia sang when wanting to join the flying derby, the song that my daughter had memorized by listening to it over and over on our Sophia CD. By the time, I got to the end, Ila had joined in…” I believe that ANYTHING can be a princess thing!”
“You know what that means don’t you?” I asked slyly?
“What?” asked Ila hopefully. I smiled and said, “If ANYTHING can be a princess thing, then that includes glasses. Glasses can be a princess thing, Ila.”
And with that, she picked up her tiara, placed it regally on her head, and peered back into the mirror. “Just right” she whispered.
Yes, all was just right…thanks to a princess.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Logan has lived in Glens Falls, NY all her life. By day, she is an educator with 20 years experience, a mom to Aidan and Gannan, her two teenage boys, a new mommy to a beautiful daughter, Ila, and wife to the love of her life, Jeffrey. By night, weekends and any spare time she can find, Logan writes. She loves memoir and also adores writing essays about the challenges of parenthood. This year she started a parenting blog called A Muddled Mother, an honest place where mothers aren’t afraid to speak of the complications and difficulties that we all inevitably experience. Logan has been published in various children’s and parenting magazines including Today’s Motherhood, Eye on Education, Faces, and Appleseed. Logan’s previous column for Hilltown Families, Snakes and Snails: Teenage Boys Tales ran bi-monthly from June 2010-Feb. 2011, sharing stories of her first time around as a parent of two teenage boys. — Check out Hindsight Parenting: Raising Kids the Second Time Around every first and third Tuesday of the month.
[Photo credit: (ccl) sumerbl4ck]