At some point in the last 10-12 weeks, a gene lying dormant in Bean went live. It caused a chain reaction of tiny, but significant changes in her little body– a rush of hormone here, a bloom of synapses there– ultimately becoming manifest to outside observers about four weeks later when she began, apropos of nothing, to feel compelled to put on Mommy’s shiny gold dress and repeat a single totemic word: “Princess!”
I’ve studiously avoided throwing the Disney princesses at her. I mean, she’s watched The Little Mermaid and Sleeping Beauty, but her interest in them centered around secondary characters: Sebastian the Crab, or the witch Maleficent or the three Good Fairies (aside: Sleeping Beauty really should be called “Fairy Turf Wars”– I’ll explain that in a later post). And we didn’t shower her with pink toys, tending to encourage her interest in things like Octonauts, horses, ballet, and Toy Story. But the princesses are Out There, and things Out There have a way of getting In Here.
When we flew to America last month for Thanksgiving, we realized on arrival that we had forgotten to pack pretty much all of Eve’s clothing. So we went with Grandmama to Target to buy replacements. While my Mom and I debated the merits of this party dress vs. that party dress, Bean, sitting in the trolley, suddenly squeaked and flapped at a display of nightgowns on an end cap.
“Want that one!” she said, eyes wide. “That pink one!”
She stopped flapping to point at a satiny pink nightgown with a gauzy, sparkly overskirt. On the chest was a triple portrait of three princesses: Ariel, Belle, and Sleeping Beauty. When I picked it up, Bean squeaked again at the one underneath: this was blue, and had Cinderella on it. Grandmama indulged her and bought both. It snowballed from there.
I indulged her at the checkout when I spotted a doll of Ariel, the Little Mermaid, dressed as a ballerina. Later that night, I came back from visiting with friends to find Bean and Grandmama curled up on the couch while Cinderella and the Prince crooned their way through “So This is Love”. Bean was wearing the blue dress, and asked to be put into the pink one when I shifted her from the sofa to her bed upstairs. Since then there have been crowns and more viewings of Cinderella (Bean’s rendition of “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes” is pretty adorable), culminating in this on Christmas Day:
I’m actually okay with this. I’m pretty sure she will get through this phase and not be brainwashed into longing for some rich dude to marry all her responsibilities away, or striving for a waist measurement smaller than her hat size. Meanwhile, she gets to wear fun costumes and pretend.