The other day, my Baby Girl was in the arms of her grandfather (who goes by the moniker “Big E”), when he lovingly referred to her as “sweetheart.” She immediately placed her slender little hands on either side of his face, and drawing his gaze directly to hers, she proclaimed:
“No. Me princess.”
Before I had a daughter, I was anti-princess. Not in an aggressive and vocal way – but I had a strong distaste for the little girl princess culture. Shirts emblazoned with phrases such as “I’m the princess,” or “Daddy’s little princess,” or even worse “I didn’t ask to be a princess…but if the crown fits…” received eye rolls from me, and I silently judged the parents whose little girls donned said shirts.
As a lawyer who understood the challenges that professional women still face, I determined that if I ever had a girl, she would know that she was valuable, but not in a delicate fairy princess sort of way. My daughter would wear a shirt that said something like “I’m not a princess – I’m a boss,” or “Why be a princess when you can be a president?”
But like so many matters in parenting, I found my theoretical pre-daughter anti-princess ideology evolving after Baby Girl’s arrival. And it began when, to my dismay, Jersey Boy started calling our daughter “Princess.”
Understanding the importance of cultivating their father-daughter relationship and desiring that Jersey Boy feel connected with Baby Girl, I chose not to discourage him by voicing my distaste for the pseudo-royalty nickname. He was her daddy after all, and he could call her whatever darling little name he chose. I had to admit, it was a little sweet. And she seemed to love it.
With two older brothers and a house full of trains, trucks and soldiers, Baby Girl has spent much of her two years playing with “boy toys.” But the truth is – she is fascinated by princesses. She adores the sweet pastel pink and violet dresses, the flowing hair and sparkly tiaras. And despite my reluctance, many of her Christmas gifts this year were princess related. I suppose, as a family, we are finding ourselves firmly immersed in the little girl princess culture.
And you know what? I think I’m okay with it.
If Baby Girl feels like she is daddy’s princess, is that really a bad thing? If Jersey Boy makes her feel beautiful, delicate, valuable and royal, is it wrong? Soon enough, the world will give her a host of perverted messages about her value and worth, and if she spends the first several years of her life being told that she is precious and cared for, I think I’m okay with it.
So sure, Jersey Boy and I will also teach her that she’s smart…and tough…and capable. But can’t she be those things while wearing a lacy dress and a tiara? What’s wrong with being a princess?