I can blame whom or whatever I decide to blame. Typically, I rotate the guilty party daily: The little girl in day care for wearing a sparkly headband, that certain “Magical Kingdom” company for having such damn good marketing for her demographic, my mother for incessantly buying her an abundance of princess paraphernalia, and even myself for being unable to control my swooning when she wears her party dresses with matching sparkly shoes… She looks so pretty, though!
The fact is: My daughter is a girly girl with the hopes, dreams, and wishes of being a princess. In the argument of Nature vs. Nurture, I was a Nurture advocate and believed it was very black and white. That was B.C., when I had no f%$#ing idea what I was talking about. Nothing about raising a child is black and white, and, much to the dismay of controlling people in a controlling society, certain things are up to Nature.
From the moment we enter motherhood, we relinquish control of so much: What we can eat, drink, and do when we’re pregnant, when we sleep, eat, and shower when we have babies, and the core personalities of our children when they grow into their own. We fight what they are naturally drawn to do and like, believing it our parently duty to control the people they are. We believe this because it is, in fact, our job to shape them, but instead of futilely fighting, we can use these innate interests (barring they are not harmful to their safety and the safety of others (duh!)) to control the people they grow into and become.
To begin most of our days, my wide eyed, dreamy little girl twirls into my room and sings, “Mommy, I need to wear a dress today, because I can only be a beautiful princess when I wear a dress and crown!”. It is at this moment I realize again and again that, by allowing her to participate in this seemingly harmless play act, she may be missing some incredibly important life lessons that I must teach in order to raise her to be a confident, respectful, content, grateful, and gracious adult. It is at this same moment I realize that, if I stifle her creative play, I will become the Wicked Witch in her fairytale world whom she does not respect, or worse, trust. If she doesn’t trust what I say, how can my words be most effective in teaching her?
So, I have begun using the Princess Pandemic as a teaching tool for what being beautiful truly means: FULL of beauty from the inside out. Every day, I use her undying desire to be a princess to remind her:
“Darling, being beautiful has nothing to do with what you wear. Princesses are beautiful on the inside, for if you are not beautiful on the inside, it will not show outside.
You cannot wear a princess crown unless you have so much knowledge in your brain to hold it on. Being smart is beautiful.
You cannot be beautiful without a positive attitude and confidence. Being hopeful is beautiful.
You cannot be beautiful unless you help your family, friends, teachers, and those in need. Being helpFULL is beautiFULL.
You cannot truly be beautiful unless you appreciate who is in your life and how fortunate you are. If you always want more and are not content with what you have, your beauty will not shine through. Being grateFULL is beautiFULL.”
My B.C. plans of my girls being tomboys and my boys being calm and gentle have been edited by the reality of Nature. I am learning every day to give Nature a little more room to take its course. I will complete my due diligence to deplete commercials from her viewing, for they feed greed. I will preview content of media entertainment to ensure that it is educational, and perpetuate the fact that screen time is an earned privilege as opposed to a right. I will let her wear her dresses and crowns while she creates make believe princes and castles on a stage that is set not to make, but to ALLOW her to transition from the imaginary beautiful princess to a beautiFULL person throughout the rest of her real life.