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Family Matters

The Not-a-princess Diaries

June 26th, 2013

By: Jessica McIntosh

He made the declaration not long after the ultrasound confirmed our suspicions. “My daughter won’t be called a princess.” There was no need to ask why. My husband came from a family of boys with a penchant for escaping under fences and eating teddy bears. (His mother saved the bear’s carcass as proof. Its remains now perched in our new nursery, waiting to greet the next generation with defuzzed arms and a stitchy grin.)

I, however, came from a family packed with little princesses. Our hair was coiffed daily from our mother’s “hair chair” (from which we rarely tried to escape) and our teddy bears disintegrated only because we hugged them too much. It must be a concern for many fathers-to-be. One day you’re sitting around a campfire, enjoying red meat seared over a fire you built yourself after the satisfaction of wielding an axe and tossing around heavy logs full of manly splinters. Next thing you know your neighbour is asking why your toenails are painted purple as you try to blink away flickering images of Barbie pirouetting under a rainbow and some Taylor Swift song on repeat.

But it turns out ponies and sparkles are not even the first princess-related fear. It is the dilemma of furnishing the princess’s castle, waiting on her whims and generally avoiding the phrase “off with his head!” A totalitarian dictatorship, no matter how cute it looks in that tutu, is a frightening prospect. Not to mention the fact a princess had better be the real thing — complete with access to the peasant population’s taxes — once she figures out how that machine at the checkout works. The cute factor no longer applies when the princess’s demands surpass playthings and popsicles and suddenly the little girl is an entitled young woman featured in a reality show, playing before parents everywhere who are shaking their heads saying, “who enabled that girl to become such a spoiled brat?”

The man with the purple toenails, that’s who.

Most of the mamas do not see it that way though. They remember fairy tales and favourite stories of the princesses who were much more than frilly symbols of privilege. There is the princess who learns she is loved whether or not she is wearing her glass slippers. The princess who finds the poison of jealous women is not strong enough to keep her down. The princess who discovers appearance is deceiving after seeing beyond the warts of a frog prince.

There are all kinds of real-life lessons for princesses. Firstly, communication is important. You really want to speak up for yourself before some wicked witch or stepmother tries to imprison you for life. Bonus points if you can talk with woodland creatures—they sure can be handy in a bind. Another vital lesson is to make sure your prince truly is charming. That man in tights had better be out slaying dragons and running his kingdom instead of lazing around, watching other guys fight dragons on television while he asks why you forgot to put pickles on his royal sandwich. And of course, real princesses know they must be kind, forgiving and honest. Otherwise they would simply be one of the wicked stepsisters. And for some reason, being cruel also
means having terrible fashion sense.

I do not know if my husband and I will ever settle this debate about the state of princesshood. All I know is whether she is called princess or pumpkin, sweet pea or sunshine, one thing has been determined. This little girl already holds rule over our hearts.

Jessica McIntosh is on maternity leave from her job as Managing Editor at the Fort McMurray Today newspaper. She has conceived stories and articles since long before her child was, and continues to be active in the freelance world in spite of diapers and laundry. Follow her on Twitter @McIntosh_J.

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