My daughter recieved a hot pink tutu, flowery crown, and fairy wings for her birthday. We immediately put them on her she twirled in a circle and proclaimed,
"I'm a princess!"
Scott and I looked at each other,
"I didn't do it," Scott said.
"Neither did I," I sighed in return.
Today Emma was wearing the hot pink tutu, she started climbing up my leg and said,
"I a princess, and you're a prince."
Wait, I can use this.
"No, I'm the queen. If you're a princess, then I'm the queen," I responded.
"Daddy's the prince!" Well, he is a boy...
"No Daddy is the King. A Queen is the Mommy of a princess and a King is the Daddy of a princess."
"No, you're a prince," she asserted. She then went on to talk about 'Princess Rosie' and 'Prince Caillou.' Brother and sister characters from a TV show, that make a castle and then play prince and princess. I gave up. In her equation there was a prince and princess, but in our real life equation there is no 'prince.'
I had noticed that I was perfectly okay with using the moniker of 'queen' for myself, but not really comfortable using 'princess' for my daughter. Why is that?
Our lexicon of fairy tales has displayed princesses as weak individuals in need of saving. Beautiful women only used as marriagable pawns in male run politics.
I have always hated the 'Princess and the Pea,' even as a child. Here is a girl being judged for marriage into the monarchy, her test? Are you so delicate that you can feel a pea through ten mattresses. I think I have always hated this story because on a gut level I know I would fail. They would present me with the tower of mattresses, I would climb to the top, and because you know they would be nice, were in a castle after all, and...zonk...snore...
"How did you sleep?" asks the queen.
"Fantastic. Those mattresses were great!" I say smugly, thinking I had passed. Because sleeping well means I did well, right? (I could get used to this luxury thing.)
"Oh, you didn't feel anything?" the queen would ask.
"Nope, nothing but sweet down." All the while thinking, 'Where's that prince? Time to put a ring on it.'
"I'm sorry, you failed," the queen would say, ushering me out of the palace, past the prince, and back into my peasant life of drudgery.
I will take a moment to mention that I have slept peacefully in a tent, while be snowed on, and with a tree limb jabbing me in the shoulder blades. This quality would make a good prince, because they're supposed to be good in battle and I'm sure that war requires you to sleep in conditions as described above. But me, as a princess? Nope, stay at home and be so delicate that a pea bruises you.
Queens actually get to boss people around. That's why I like it better. They get to tell people what to do. A few of them have even found themselves or made it so that they end up sitting in the throne.
Of course there are the fairy tales where they are mean and evil. I'm assuming because they are old, and once you are old you are no longer beautiful, and not worth anything, and therefore you must take out your anger on the young beautiful princess.
While I was having that conversation with my daughter I was trying to convince myself that if I got her to say that I was the queen it would be more an assertion of my authority over anything else. I was also thinking that the monarchy did exist, and we like stories about them because they had power and money. In modern times we have taken 'princess' to mean a pampered woman incapable of doing much other than being pretty. A fate I do not want for my capable girl.
So instead of throwing out the princess and her perfume I am hoping to get in there and reframe the idea before anything sticks too hard.
With a father that does the dishes and a mother that climbs mountains I know that the 'princess' myth won't stick in this household.