From the Mouth of Children: Lessons in Being a Princess
I had the best day today! I had the wonderful pleasure of babysitting little girls for a friend. The girls (M and B) are ages two and three respectively, and are good-natured sweethearts. B and M are always all-around girly-girls; but B has just entered into the wonderful world of princesses, dresses, crowns, and the infamous dream of beauty (M is still a bit more distracted by loud and squishy toddler toys). It’s a pretty significant war just trying to get B to wear pants long enough to wash her dresses; she’s been delirious to find that her most recent Birthday and Christmas presents were devoted to princess-related items. Everyone she meets is informed that she is not “B”, she is “Princess B.” Honestly, it’s adorable. I fully expect her to resemble a real-life Gossip Girl-esque Blair when she grows up (the fashion-interested Blair, not the snobby Blair).
Today, We relocated to a large play area in the mall for lunch and games while their mother was busy and grabbed some hot dogs before hitting the playground. The food store was right across from a Build-A-Bear storefront, which naturally attracted the girls’ attention. I swear to God, B has now found heaven. Because tucked in amongst the bears was a row of three dolls dressed like princesses. B immediately informed M that these were ”real princess dolls.” I’m assuming you can tell a true princess doll from a fake princess doll by the dress and crown? I think M was more intrigued by the big wooden bear statue, but that didn’t stop B from talking her head off about the dolls. So of course the rest of lunch-time was devoted to telling me all the signs of real princesses.
They went something like this:
- Real Princesses wear beautiful dresses (This was demonstrated by layering napkins over her clothes to resemble a “skirt”)
- But not just any dresses, princesses have swirly skirts (Hands spread outextra wide to show just how swirly)
- Because the skirts are swirly, princesses spend their time spinning around to show it off (we now pirouetted in circles repeatedly)
- Princesses must wear pink everything. (Purple jewels will work in a pinch, but no compromise on the dress itself).
- Princesses wear pretty pink shoes. (Sandals are okay, but they need sparkles or light or something “beautiful”)
- The crown is mostly non-negotiable. (Her pink butterfly barrette was a satisfactory replacement though because it was a butterfly” and it waspink. M’s purple butterfly was insufficient)
- Sparkles make everything more princessy (Princesses love sparkles so we have them whenever we can. But sometimes we can’t and that isn’t as pretty)
- Real Princesses are beautiful dancers and stand like this to be beautiful:
B was the most enthusiastic demonstrator; I feel like I learned a lot.
But perhaps the greatest lesson she taught me in being a princess didn’t come from our long conversation but from her actions this afternoon. I mean, B was right, she was a real princess. But not just because she wore pink and knew how to arabesque. She also
- Picked up her trash and made sure no one else needed help throwing theirs away.
- Tore M’s hot dog into bite sized pieces and offered up her own when M’s fell on the floor.
- Repeatedly returned to pick up the other children’s shoes and coats when someone knocked them on the floor.
- Went around to every child standing alone and hugged them.
- Raced over and kissed the little boy that fell and hit his knee.
- Called all the other children over to her and directed them in games and how to play together.
- Never took bossing too far and would let others lead as well when they let everyone in.
- Made sure no one felt left out.
- Repeatedly returned to the shyer, less comfortable M, kissed her and then introduced her to another quiet kid to play with before going back to her friends
- Gave away her crayons to M when M got bored.
- Made sure that none of the babies escaped from the play area (redirecting them inwards with a hug and guiding hand)
- Smiled at the adults
- Said her “Pleases” and “Thank yous”
- Told one mother “your baby is very good.”
- Loved everyone indiscriminately.
Those are the real characteristics of a princess. Someone who know when to lead and when to follow, who knows how to deal with the extroverts and the introverts. Someone who unreservedly gives out hugs, kisses, and kind words, but is aware of them enough to save them from their own wandering nature. Someone who is loyal and good to their family, putting them first. Someone who is clean, tidy, and has a helping heart. Someone who know just what to say to make you smile and when you need it the most.
Those were the qualities that really changed her from “B” into “Princess B.”