Grits and Purls

Spinning yarns about the grit of life

If you ask my daughter what she wants to be when she grows up, she will reply, “Cinderella”.

I hate this. I would much prefer to hear that she wants to be an astrophysicist, teacher, fireman or bulldozer driver. Just about anything would be preferable (except politician). I can’t help it; my reaction is part of who I am. I worry that when this bright little girl says she wants to be a princess, she is a little delusional—choosing the path that looks easiest, requires the least work and returns the maximum reward. Find prince charming and you will live happily ever after. The other problem I have with “princess” is that it doesn’t reflect any interest in art or music or science or reading or writing. Maybe my expectations are a bit much for a five year old. I don’t know.

So I squelch my reaction and keep it to myself, because I don’t know what really is appropriate for a five-year-old to say. But I do want her to always feel comfortable “saying”, and she won’t be comfortable telling me the important things later if I poo-poo her five-year-old dreams now. I also know that she probably won’t know what she wants to be when she grows up even when she is thirty, and I know that my daughter will never be who I want her to be: she will be who she is. Right now she loves princesses. Right now she wants to be a princess when she grows up. Right now it’s my job to support and nurture her.

So, I was delighted, when through a family member, she got the chance to make her five-year-old dreams come true and see the Disney princesses live. Our preparations were massive as we packed for her special day with Grandma and Papa, packing not one, but two, princess dresses, a blue Cinderella dress and a Snow White dress. We selected two special wands, an extra-sparkly tiara and two pairs of glittery shoes. She even slept in her favorite, freshly laundered princess pajamas on the eve of her adventure.

After the show, as an extra special treat she was able to spend some time back stage with Snow White, Belle and Cinderella themselves. I wasn’t there, but from the reports and snapshots, shyness was not a problem for my daughter. She was not the least bit intimidated by the princesses in their sparkling tiaras and massive dresses, but rather she took her place among them with grace and aplomb. She told Snow White that because she was wearing her Snow White dress, they were sisters. She hugged each princess, smiled and was gracious and articulate. When asked which princess was her favorite, she thought a minute and then answered honestly (and a little politically) “all of them.”

When her daddy picked her up, he reported that she was talking constantly about her experiences, full of excitement, brown eyes sparkling. Grandma and Papa said her behavior was beyond reproach the entire day. By the time she got home to me, she was exhausted and just needed her bed, her floppy dog and a hug.

I’ve thought a lot about my little princess-want-to-be, especially the reports I had about how composed and poised she was. Part of that composure is her natural personality. Part of that is her desire to be and act like a princess—to have good manners, to be a little more refined, to be nice and care about others. Those are really great qualities to cultivate.

So maybe the desire to be a princess is not such a bad thing after all.

© 2012 Michele Arduengo. All rights reserved.

One thought on “When You Wish Upon a Star

  1. I hear you — I sort of dread the day that The Colonel starts succumbing to the lure of the princess glitter. However, I would also assert that princesses, in real life if not always in Disney life, have rather powerful platforms for good. Consider Princess Diana’s legacy of work against land mines, for example. There are some redeeming qualities along with the nauseating amount of bubble gum pink and sparkles and swooning over vacuous princes. Better for our daughters to aspire to that than to the Evil Queen or wicked stepsister role, I suppose.

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