I have several problems with princesses. I’m not speaking of real-life, actual princesses, a la Diana or Grace Kelly, since I’ve never met anyone of royal background and suspect that, despite the title and royal fanciness that goes along with the job, the demands of royalty are probably great and exhausting. My problems with princesses, specifically, are with the Disney variety, and my prime complaint is that my daughters are obsessed.
Grace and Nadia are only five and three years old, yet they are crazed when it comes to princesses. Earlier in the spring, I took them to a mother-daughter tea party, which included a special visit by princesses. As Belle, Cinderella and Jasmine mingled with the commoners, my daughters stalked them like paparazzi, with Grace seizing my camera and snapping pictures of their every move. Grace and Nadia followed them around constantly, while Nadia jabbered non-stop, asking questions about Beast’s well-being and how Raja was doing. In one of those a-picture’s-worth-a-thousand-words moments, there’s a photo of Nadia sitting next to Cinderella during a story and, though all other kids are looking forward at the storyteller and book, Nadia is beaming at Cinderella with pure adoration.
I’m not very girly and it is often a mystery to me how I got such girly little girls. We have princess dress-up wear, attend princess birthday parties, own princess games, go to princess tea parties and partake in princess pretend-play. At times, Nadia actually thinks she is a princess and if you address her as Nadia, she will firmly tell you to call her by her formal title, Princess Nadia. One time, one of the girls actually banished the other from the kingdom (the complaint came to me as, “Nadia kicked me out of her kingdom!!!”). It was quite a scene, complete with princess tears and a princess tantrum. Princess Nadia has chosen Prince Mike as her betrothed and there have been more royal weddings in this house than any one family can afford. Princess Nadia always outfits Prince Mike with a bowtie or, if the bowtie is nowhere to be found, a “tie” cut out of construction paper. After the wedding, there is always a dance, and the ritual is completed…until the next wedding tomorrow.
As the mother of the princess, I, appropriately, get to be the Queen. This sounds okay, but I already wear a lot of hats around this house and can’t risk getting saddled within any extra responsibilities around here. Since I’ve been stripped of my king, I am the apex of the monarchy and the ruler of the kingdom. It’s not the worst role, though I often suspect and fear that the princesses are plotting a coup, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Prince Mike was in on this scheme, too. Sometimes I debate getting my own taster.
Most of the time, the princess mania just baffles me. I don’t get the fascination. But after a recent viewing of Cinderella, I finally had an idea to make this whole princess-mania worthwhile. Now, I am the first to admit that I have a lot of weaknesses and pretend play is one of them. While Mike can expertly play the role of prince and patiently abides by Nadia’s every wedding demand (she’s your classic bridezilla), I am a fan of watching their show - a spectator, as opposed to a participant. But the other week, I actually had a great idea. I told Grace and Nadia they each could be Cinderella and I would be the evil stepmother (it’s unfortunate that this is the role I can most easily identify with). I then gave them some rags and a bucket of cleaning solution and sent them outside to scrub the floor mats in the van.
Before judgment is passed on my parenting, let me defend myself by offering that the girls love to clean things. As far as they’re concerned, the only thing better than getting to scrub a toilet, is getting to scrub a toilet while impersonating a princess. And the only thing that would be better than scrubbing a toilet while impersonating a princess would be scrubbing the toilet as a princess, in preparation for the tea party reception after the royal wedding to Prince Mike. I ask you…if the victims are eager and willing participants, is it really wrong?
But, like all good things, it didn’t last long. Kids grow and get smarter every day and it was just a few days ago that Grace came to us with a proposal: she wanted to do chores, in exchange for money. I don’t recall Cinderella ever being on anyone’s payroll. Perhaps now that Grace has started kindergarten, she and other five-year-olds will start comparing notes about what goes on at home. Maybe a more sophisticated princess let Grace know that the Evil Stepmother can’t get away this malarkey, and that there’s something called an “allowance,” which Grace would be entitled to as the result of the labor being performed as Cinderella. I don’t know quite how my great idea unraveled so quickly, but there went my one use for princess-mania…up in smoke, like the plume of dust they would’ve swept up, had the Cinderella charade lasted just a little bit longer.