- Shower the child in Horrible Histories
- Disguise Latin lessons as a Disney-esque diversion
- Encourage copious reading in historical fiction, especially involving berserkers
- deprive your progeny of Legos and electronic games so that they resort to constructing toys out of paper clips and construction paper
Now Kid #2 is showing her genetic medievalist inheritance. As well as her abject failure as a proto-feminist.
Three days ago she rechristened herself -- for reasons that remain a complete mystery -- Princess Buppy. An odd name, perhaps, but a better moniker than her previous alias ("Pinky Pinkskins"). What does Princess Buppy do from the moment she arrives home from preschool? Why, slip into her ballet slippers and tutu, don her fairy wings, and relax with one of her five picture book versions of Snow White, or three of Cinderella, or four of Sleeping Beauty, or two of Beauty and the Beast. Then, all wacked out from this intense absorption of princess narratives, she will do things like stretch out in bed with her eyes closed, little lips raised in a pucker. If no prince happens quickly by, she will shout out impatiently "Hey! I'm in my glass case! Someone needs to kiss me."
There were princesses in the Middle Ages. So, you know, Kid #2 must be in training too. Right?
This is precisely why I'm trying inoculation with my 2 year old daughter. Frances is learning about proper princesses: Princess Fiona (kung-fu kicking ogress), Princess Leia (trash-talking insurgent), and Wonder Woman (Amazon princess). Mulan (cross-dressing non-princess) is waiting in the wings. Regular witch injections (Wicked Witch of the West, Kiki of Kiki's Delivery Service) also appear useful in this regard.
Rob: Excellent job of fooling yourself. Been there, tried that! Sometimes when pretending to be asleep on the bed, she is in fact impersonating Princess Fiona from the first Shrek movie. As to Mulan ... let's not forget that she gives up her happy life as a transvestite to settle down as lucky wife at the film's end. The Witch in Kiki's delivery service was too intense for me, let alone my three year old ... but my ten year old adored that movie.
On the positive side Kid #2 does have a fixation with wicked characters, especially Lady Tremaine, Drusella, and Anastasia. The fact that she has already taught me that these are the names of Cinderella's stepmother and stepsisters proves it.
Oh girls are quite wicked enough already - don't worry about that. Ever read Cat's Eye by Margaret Attwood? So true to life. Just wait until they are around 8 or so for the naturally assertive witch to emerge.
N50: Thanks for the reassurance.
Jeff, Jeff, Jeff. Feminism is about *choice*. So she chooses to be a fairy-tale princess now. OK, frightening. Wait eight years and she might chose to be Xena, Sarrior Princess, complete with accent. Or Phyllis Schlafly, complete with horns. Or she'll collaborate with her brother on a classic book about Liutprand of Cremona/Cremora. But it's her choice.
Bruce: but feminism was also supposed to liberate young girls from the tyranny of stereotyped futures, right? So death to Sleeping Beauty, just as Maleficent intended. As to Snow White: if it weren't for that cowardly woodsman, her heart would have been torn from her screaming little princess's body and placed in a wooden box, just as the Evil Queen demanded. And yet these princesses endure, mostly as Disney products.
As to Liutprand, we moderns owe his cremora so much. Otherwise it would be impossible to flavor our coffee with a hydrogenated fat based ooze that tastes vaguely like hazelnuts.
You're welcome - and Rob and yourself are quite right to imagine that your daughters are perfect princesses for whom anything is possible (even Rob who wants to subvert the princessery) - for that really is what fathers are for.
Holly Crocker has reminded me of this piece in the NYT on princess mania. Thanks, Holly!
A suggestion: Robert N. Munsch's The Paper Bag Princess. It's quite feminist, and the midgets love it. **Spoiler alert** The princess saves the prince from a dragon, and then dumps him when he fusses about her hair. **End Spoiler**
And some reassurance: I think that many small girls fantasize about having power, so they pretend to be the images of power that they've seen. At least that's what I was doing when I was pretending to be a mommy, or a teacher, or a princess. These are the women with unquestioned authority that a little girl sees, and man-o-man did I want unquestioned authority. Just introduce her to a female dean if things get totally out of control.
I'm imagining in a few years, when your children are teens, and they start reading the archives of this blog in utter horror. ;-)
HC: Oddly enough, I did introduce my daughter to a female dean recently -- the dean of my college in fact -- at a colleague's book signing event.
DEAN: Hello, sweety.
KID #2: I'm not a sweety, I'm a princess!
The book sounds great and I will check it out.
Glauk: Kid #1 reads the blog already. Kid #2 has had parts read to her, including this one. Because she is as vain as I am, she adores it.
If you would like to see how cute this child is, look here. Or here.
Awww, very cute.
And I'm impressed. ;-)
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