Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Princess Maya (half-hearted sigh)

Let me start by saying that I blame her school.  (Yes, her lovely, wonderful school that I love.)  This is all their fault.

The Friday before Christmas Maya came home with a little holiday gift (I'm not sure whether it was from her teachers or from the Santa that came to visit the school).  The bag contained a little finger puppet (a dragon, which she called an alligator and adored) and a book. 

This book:

She went bananas over it.  At first I thought it was because of the masks (masks are fun, and we would hold our fingers over our eyes as "masks" as we read) . . . but soon I realized no, it wasn't the mask, it was the princesses.

Princesses! (please imagine me saying princesses! the exact same way Seinfeld says Newman!)

Prior to this book, Maya had never encountered a princess.  We don't really watch tv, we didn't have any princessy books, and the thought of dress up gowns or shoes were laughable given her motor issues.  Here Maya, let's put on layers of poofy dress and plastic kitten heels and run around! 

I was cool with the lack of princesses because, on principle, I don't like them.  They're too thin and too perfect and too appearance oriented and too girly.  I've never been girly.  I love the fact that Maya's favorite things include alligators and dinosaurs, that she doesn't mind dirt.  I didn't want to introduce princesses as a standard of what makes girls good-beauty and dresses and pretty hair (and often, some codependency, it seems).

But damned if she didn't flip her little lid over the princess book.  She would grab my index finger and put my finger on a princess and wait, her code for "Name this, Mommy." And I would say "Belle, Tiana, Ariel" etc . . . and sure enough, now she knows their names.  She's in love with them. (And secretly, I kind of liked that she was into them.  It's very "typical little girl," and I like that if other girls had princess backpacks or whatever Maya would recognize them and share that interest.)

I didn't embrace the princess trend the way I embraced the alligators . . . I didn't want to discourage it, but I didn't want to overly encourage it, either.  We visited the "princess store" (Disney Store) but didn't buy any princess action figures or gear.  

Then we inherited a bag of hand-me-downs filled with princess stuff. A chair, a coat, a hat, cups, etc.  Maya was in heaven . . . and I started to cross over to the dark side.

You may have noticed the princess chair in this picture on the Facebook page:

 . . . as it turns out, it's much easier to get her to sit in one spot (for a snack, or a book) if I can say "Go sit in the princess chair." 

Then there's the coat. When I first saw it I laughed, "Oh my.  She might have to join the Ice Capades if she wears that jacket."  Dave thought she looked like one of the Pink Ladies from Grease.  I thought maybe we would just wear it around the house.

so happy that she wouldn't stand still enough for a picture

 . . . but, as it turns out, she's happy to put on the princess coat and head out the door. (Whereas putting on her normal coat sometimes involves some serious wrestling maneuvers.)

And then there's the princess hat . . .

 . . . aka "the only hat to have ever remained on her head for more than five consectutive minutes."

What can I do?  She's going to love them anyway.  I'm feeling very if-you-can't-beat-'em-join-'em.

Well, mostly join 'em.  I didn't buy her princess bedding because I knew she would love jungle animal bedding just as much.  We still only have the one princess book.  And I'm going to talk a lot about how the princesses are kind and share and use manners and sit still for their haircuts and  . . .  wait, what now?

Yes, when Maya was unenthused about getting a haircut today I may have leaned over into her stroller and whispered, "Don't you want to go get your haircut like a princess?!

I mean, I may as well make it work to my advantage, right?

Princess Maya, post-haircut

(PS-We also streamed a princess movie last night.  She was over the moon excited (clip below) but lost interest after about 2 minutes.  I think that's a happy compromise.)


katie said...

oh my gosh! i love the video! i am so anti princess right now... my daughter still is as well, and i'm so happy. i know it's coming though. one day.

Barbara said...

That was a generous good fairytale!

Annie said...

I have a great suggestion. The book princesses are NOT quitters. It doesn't tell girls that they should give up on the pretty dresses the way paper bag princess does. Instead it sends the message that you can wear pretty dresses and big crowns and still be hardworking and kind

laurelsmom said...

And they lived happily ever after :)

Jon and Alyson said...

We too have embraced the non princess lifestyle for a long time. Mostly because of lack of motor skills Jacey couldn't pick princess dress up. hehe We even have a dino shirt that says "Rawr means I love you in Dinosaur". However, we do have a sparkly, pink sweatshirt that sometimes she refuses to let go of. Hmmm there could be some lady in there yet! It's inevitable I think...2 girl cousins.

Jackie said...

My "little-boy-on-the-spectrum" version of Maya's experience has to do with karate. How could I - who chaired more than one Congressional committee against a war, who organized anti-war marches, etc. (you get the idea) agree to let my then-6 year old participate in a sport that involved head-bopping, chest-thumping sparring? And yet, over the next three years (during which we spent so much time at karate that we got phone calls there...pre-cell phone era!) it turned out to be the most successful therapeutic intervention of all! No amount of OT or speech-language therapy accomplished what daily karate sessions did in terms of receptive-expressive speech development, eye-hand coordination, social skills, etc. Sometimes you've just got to go with the flow and make it work for you.

Siobhan said...

It sounds to me like you're doing the princess thing right. I do the same with my girls, telling them how they're actually really smart and nice to people etc. I try to counterbalance to much girliness by making sure they play with tools, balls and trucks, lol.
And there are a few movies that I think send a decent enough message, the Princess and the Frog and Tangled are both really good.

Cathy Mealey said...

Just stumbled into another post about Disney princesses here:


Seems like princesses (in moderation) are everywhere!

RaeLeah Jenis said...

I can relate to the anti-princess feelings, but for me it's because they have morphed so much from the original tales (which I love). I agree with Annie about the princesses not being quitters Belle didn't give up with Gaston locked her in the cellar. Moderation is the key. The video is adorable.

Cathy said...

Dana, I just saw a book about Princesses in the NYT book review and totally thought of you and Maya's princess phase (it's called Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture by Peggy Orenstein). Fer and Wendy have kind of missed it, but our neighbor's 4 yr old daughter is deep into princesses so they try on the dresses and run around with tiaras once or twice a week when they play together. Anyway, haven't read the book but thought you might like to know of it.