September 6, 2011

Backwards Baseball Caps and Glass Slippers

I struggle on a daily basis to find balance in parenting my five month old daughter. I am in a constant state of worry. Every place I look there is someone telling me that telling my daughter that she is pretty is stunting her future, then on the other hand people shout that we need to build up our little girls' self-esteem.

I want to tell her she is beautiful every single time I lay eyes on her. Every time. Without fail. Even when she is covered in the worlds hugest poo and stinks like rotted skunk mixed with distemper diarrhea (a particular smell only one who has worked in the world of veterinary medicine can understand) she is still the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.

How do I balance that though, with making sure that she understands the most truly valuable assets she has are her heart, soul and a good solid head on her shoulders?

I want her to KNOW in her heart that the stupid boy who will inevitably call her ugly is in fact the dumbest creature to walk the face of this planet and obviously blind. I also want her to have enough courage to raise her hand in class, and not just in reading and grammar, but in math and science too. I don't want her to believe her third grade teacher if she happens to call her D.A.D. (dumb as dirt -- true story, happened to me) one day because fractions are confusing.

I used to think that the way to find balance was to shun all things girly and focus only on learning activities.

This leads me of course to the princess issue.

When I was pregnant, and after I found out we were having a baby girl, I would get so upset anytime some referred to Evie as a "princess". I put the keibash on all things princess related. I only budged so far as to let her Daddy register for and buy her a very few items that said "Daddy's Princess".

It seriously irritated me.

I wanted her to to be too busy digging in the dirt to play princess, too busy having adventures to wear a fancy ball gown and for her to scoff at shirts like this one.

But now I think what if she wants to play princess and dress up? Why is that such a big deal to people? Why is it such a big deal to me?

My thinking is changing on the princess front. As long as she is using her imagination and we talk about all the other important things that princesses do I think *FOR US* it's ok.

After all,

 Belle took on The Beast

Ariel actually rescued her prince (TWICE, I might add).

And, come to think of it, Snow White, Cinderella and Princess Aurora (Sleeping Beauty) all got pretty banged up and still came out of it on top.

I think we are looking for the wrong message, because in most princess stories I remember the heroine has to go through some pretty awful stuff; she has to be determined and perservere before she comes out on top. Her heart's desires are not dropped in her lap as rewards for her beauty; many times they are hard fought and won.

SO maybe it's not the time to ban all princess stuff from our little girls. Maybe it's time to redefine what Princess really means.

Yes, princesses wear crowns.

Princesses are also well respected and they have to have poise and confidence. They need to be well spoken. They need to be athletic and spend time outdoors.

Sometimes they might play in the mud and even dig for worms.

Other days they might have tea parties.

Most importantly though, princesses don't settle for less than what they deserve. I mean that in terms of the Prince of course. The prince must always be respectful of the princess, love her unconditionally, treat her well and being willing to live their life as a partnership.

There is always a middle ground, a balance, between two extremes. So while, I don't see my little girl trotting around with Princess emblazoned all over, I'll be happy to let her dress up, and use her imagination a little. I will tell her she is beautiful when ever  I want to and when she imagines some grand adventure for the princess I'll tell her how smart she is.

I think it is most important for Evie to see a balance, to learn that all things are not mutually exclusive and in the end, truthfully, I think glass slippers look great with a backwards baseball cap.

If you are a mom of a little girl, or even a little boy, how do you feel about the "Princess Issue"?