“Remind me again, the name of the princess you were for your fourth birthday? You know, Sleeping Beauty? What’s her actual name?” I’m reminisicing with Miss J before bedtime one night. Her birthday is coming up, and since it coincides with Halloween, she gets to pick any costume she wants. Miss J turns nine this year, and I can’t believe it’s been five years since princess was everything her heart desired.
“Aurora?” she half asks, half tells me. I’m not sure if she’s incredulous that I can’t remember the Disney character or just being matter of fact. Maybe a little bit of both? After all, tweendom is on the horizon, and the antics have already begun.
“Oh, yes. Aurora. Remember when you dressed up like her for your party?” It was the first birthday party we held for her in our new suburban house. I was excited to finally have the proper space for her whole preschool class plus other friends and family. We rented little mini tables for the kids, painted pumpkins and had a scavenger hunt in our very own backyard! It was the stuff of city dweller dreams, and Miss J’s costume lived up to the festivities.
I’ve always wished I were the homemade costume type. But my seamstress abilities began and ended in college when I worked in the theater department’s costume shop one semester. Soon after I switched my majors to English and European Cultural Studies. In with the pen, out with the needle. So instead of hunkering down over my sewing machine each year to craft the perfect Halloween ensemble, Miss J and I head to Party City or the Disney Store, as we did that year she turned four. It was fun going all out and buying that shiny fuschia dress, a real life replica of Aurora’s animated silver screen apparel.
Truth: I’ve never had a problem with the whole princess thing. When Miss J was all about castles and once upon a time, I embraced it. I’ll even confess that I kind of liked it. Having my daughter make princesses her thing was sort of like a fairy tale come true for this mama. I adored dress up myself as a little girl, and I didn’t turn into some damsel in distress. Quite the contrary. I showed up in New York with a room to live in and barely a job to speak of, yet somehow made my way. So don’t hate me for saying it, but I never worried that my daughter’s love of princesses would mean she’d end up locked in a tower pining away for her knight in shining armor.
Our recent bedtime conversation serves as living proof that she knows her strengths.
“Mom, I may look like Aurora, but I have the personality of Belle and Ariel,” J says.
“What do you mean?” I ask. She’s peaked my curiosity.
“Belle was kind hearted, and Ariel was daring and brave,” J says confidently.
Her self-assuredness is a relief to me. Just moments before, we had been discussing her struggles with friends at school. As I grapple to find the right advice to bestow upon her, I can’t help but think of my own fairy tale yearning. For me it’s never been about the princess. It’s about the fairy godmother. Oh how I would LOVE a fairy godmother.
Someone to wave her magic wand, call out “Bippity Boppity Boo,” and make all my troubles go POOF. A fairy godmother who could tell me the best thing to say to my daughter when I see her hurting. She’s at that age where the playground politics are fierce. We talk openly about strategies of how to fend for herself and how to find happiness during that half hour period of no structure and minimal teacher oversight.
“I just want to fit in,” she tells me. And I’m reminded of my own feelings at that age and in the years beyond. I know this is only the beginning of what could be a lifelong struggle to feel secure and beloved. Unlike me, my girls have sisterly love, that sacred kind explored in the most recent Disney princess film, “Frozen. ” As a gal without a sister, I’ve always felt that those lucky enough to have one are better served in the world of female friendships. But I can’t discount the mother/daughter relationship either, and the fundamental role it plays for all relationships moving forward.
Snuggling up next to Miss J, I come to that most fairy tale like of conclusions, realizing perhaps the answer for her is right there in front of me. Our embrace before dreams, a “how was your day” during a shared meal, and some special one on one time all supply her with a reservoir of love from which to draw. The playground can be rough. But having an abode filled with comfort and care helps ease those skinned knees and hurt feelings inevitable when growing up. Forget the princesses. Forget the fairy godmothers. Just channel your inner Dorothy, darling daughter of mine, and know that “There’s No Place Like Home.”
This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post. This week’s prompt was “If I were a fairy tale character…”
Hosted by: Kristi at findingninee.com, Julie at Velvet Rose, and Vidya at Vidya Suri, Collecting Smiles.