Halloween was a big deal at our house this year. We have an almost-four-year-old who understands the concept of going door-to-door to get candy. She also loves to dress up, particularly as her favorite princess, Cinderella.
And what a week Cindy Cinderella has had. We started with a Halloween party in dance class with special treats and our costumes. Then we had a party at school with a special party mix that included candy corn followed by a treat bag which led to our first experience with “pop rocks”. The Saturday was spent with Grandma and Papa. And finally Sunday, Halloween, meant donning our Cinderella costume, putting sparkles in our hair, and making “state visits” to our neighbors to exchange official Halloween greetings for sugar and chocolate.
As I was pulling The Princess Express (a red ATW radio flyer wagon) around the neighborhood, I had plenty of time to think about some of the conversations I’ve had with other parents this week.
One conversation took place with a parent, who, over Facebook, lamented the number of 3- and 4-year-old princesses running around Universal Studios with up dos, thick makeup, and high heels, looking like (to mangle a phrase from Scotland) “lamb dressed up like mutton.” I do have mixed emotions about my daughter’s fascination with princesses. I am happy that she wants to dress up and look nice. At the same time, I want her to be self confident enough not to give a rat’s rear end about what other people think about her. And though I sincerely hope that some day she will find a love as wonderful as what I have found, I never want her to think that her happiness depends upon finding a handsome prince like I found in her Daddy, because it doesn’t. Joy comes from within; it can be reflected in a true love and grow into wonderful things as a result of that love, but the Joy has to be there first. Simply getting married will not create Joy where there was none to begin with.
One of the other conversations that I’ve had with parents and other adults lately is a discussion about the lack of social skills among younger people. They can text, but they can’t talk to a person—face to face. One person even related a story about a young employee who, while traveling for work, spent a dinner with international colleagues texting and doing Facebook activities instead of participating in the conversation and interacting with the people at the table. He missed such a life-enriching experience and used the internet, which is supposed to open the world for people, to remain locked in his own little world. Not only that, he was being rude.
One good thing about my daughter’s fascination with princesses is that it creates opportunities for us to teach her a little bit of refinement and etiquette, and she’s learning the lessons well. My husband and I had talked about the rules for trick-or-treating several times with her, and when we asked her to tell us what they were, she knew them by heart. She was listening. Every time I helped her into and out of the wagon, I got a “Thank you Fairy Godmother.” She said “thank you” when offered candy. She wished people “happy Halloween”, and when it was time for her to stay home and give candy to other children, she was generous, almost to a fault. She was truly stately and royal in her conduct.
The princess is asleep now, and even bedtime went off without much protest. I wonder what the future holds, and I wonder continually how to be the best possible parent I can be for her. As she sleeps, she sighs. I don’t know what her dreams are, but I hope that they are sweet. I know mine will be.
© 2010 Michele Arduengo. All rights reserved.