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LIFE ... WITHOUT BUMPER PADS

‘Princess Age’ ushers in big dreams — and royal challenges

Monday, May 20, 2013 - 12:01 am

Editor's note: Jill Adams is a professional writer based in Fort Wayne.

My little girl has officially arrived at what I'm referring to as “The Princess Age.”

This is the phenomenon during which a little girl discovers, idolizes, lives and breathes all things Disney Princess. The reason I know this is because, once upon a time, I did it, too.

I remember listening to the Robin Hood record as I read along with the companion book (yes, really). My mother called me down for my favorite lunch (SpaghettiOs and grilled cheese!) but I was too emotionally wretched over the story to break away.

I spent hours scouring my room looking for something close to a Maid Marian ensemble. Decades before Disney stores and Princess costumes became readily available, I settled with a flannel nightgown and one of my mom's scarves.

Over the years, I went through stages of princesses. Cinderella, Snow White, Aurora. … Eventually Belle and Ariel joined the ranks. And then one day, I grew out of it. I believe my parents' sigh of relief was audible throughout our neighborhood.

So it didn't really surprise me when my sweet daughter gazed wide-eyed at the TV screen upon her first viewing of “Sleeping Beauty.” Or that she sang fervently along with Ariel throughout her underwater pleas. But before I knew it, the Princesses had taken over … everything.

“I don't want that soup,” my daughter told me over lunch one day. “I want my princess soup.”

I raised my brows.

“What's princess soup?” I asked her.

She gazed at me with frustration.

“It's princess soup!” she responded.

OK, then.

I looked at my small girl and decided to test the situation out.

“This is princess soup,” I told her. I felt no guilt, as I was still clueless about what princess soup was. And therefore, I felt it was fair to assume that any princess would be happy to eat the delicious broth.

“In fact,” I added, “this is Belle's favorite soup!”

She shook her pigtails from side to side.

“No.”

Desperate, I unearthed the Disney Princess fruit snacks from the cabinet.

“Princess gummies after your soup!”

A smile and a concession later, the soup was gone, as were the gummies.

The next day, as we were preparing to leave the house, I took stock of my crew. Both boys were dressed, hair combed, wearing shoes and not whining. Success. My daughter was dressed adorably and her hair was under control. Success. I ran upstairs to grab my shoes, and when I returned, I gasped.

“Cinderella!” my daughter exclaimed proudly.

Sure enough, her former attire had been discarded, and in its place was the Cinderella costume purchased by her grandmother. It was a lovely dress, but not exactly appropriate for our days' activities.

“Sweetheart,” I said with feigned calmness as I eyed the clock, “you need to put your clothes back on. We can't wear Cinderella out today.”

For five long seconds, she looked me square in the eye. And then she opened her mouth and unleashed the loudest wail I have ever heard. Shocked, I made a snap decision.

“Fine, wear the dress,” I said. Tears were instantly replaced with a grin, and as I buckled her in her seat, I realized I had just been duped by a 3-year-old .

The following week, the TV became the next point of contention. With two older brothers, my daughter was facing a tough sell to get everyone on board with a nonstop Disney Princess marathon. Ever the charmer, however, she managed it. Every moment the kids were home, some princess was in the background seeking her true love. I hated to admit it, but by day four, even I was ready to lose it.

“I can't take it anymore,” my husband finally verbalized for both of us. “We have to get her off this princess kick.”

I shook my head doubtfully and then listened from the next room as she sobbed her protest over my husband stopping the DVD. A few minutes later, the song “A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes” from Disney's “Cinderella” resumed.

“Don't be too hard on her!” I said with a wink.

He shook his head and disappeared in the backyard with our sons to do boy things.

Alone in the house with my daughter, I wandered into the room where she sat and sank onto the couch next to her. As I watched her, I had a flashback to my youth. I had loved those princesses. I watched them and acted them out all the time as a little girl. It was part of dreaming, part of the development of my imagination; and I wouldn't trade those memories for anything.

My daughter snuggled up next to me, and I kissed the top of her head. And then we sat smiling together as all of Cinderella's dreams came true.

This column is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinion of The News-Sentinel. Jill Adams blogs at http://lifewithoutbumperpads.blogspot.com.