The Princess Pandemic

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Recently I got involved in a conversation with a group of moms at our neighborhood pool about a horrible epidemic that’s invading our preschools and playgroups that should be avoided at all costs. I call it the “Princess Pandemic,” and to a lot of moms, it’s worse than an outbreak of head lice at a daycare center.

The topic came up after one of us brought a magazine with Kate Middleton on the cover to a pool play date (it totally wasn’t me – ok, yes it was – I was dying to find out who made those adorbs tangerine skinny jeans she had on!!!). It then evolved into a princess-bashing, feminist jamboree.

Our chat went something like this…

PC Pool Mama: “I’m so sick of seeing her on the cover of magazines. It is so wrong to teach our daughters that they should aspire to be princesses.”

Me (deciding not to go there when I realized the gals from Teen Mom were on the cover of the magazine she’d brought with): “Why? I think Kate has mad style and seems nice enough.”

PC Pool Mama #2: “It’s so unrealistic, and it’s sending the wrong message. I plan to encourage my daughter to be an architect or an engineer.”

Me (only half joking): “What if she doesn’t want to be an architect or an engineer? What if she hits 25 and genuinely wants to be a princess?”

We all had a chuckle, changed the subject, and I forgot all about the Princess Pandemic until it came up again a few days later when I overhead a conversation between two other mamas in the park  (well, it was more like me eavesdropping, but still):

PC Park Mama: “Did you see what Dave’s mom said about the baby on Facebook? She called her a princess!”

There was that word again. Princess.

PC Park Mama’s friend: “Ohmygod, that is so backward. Well, at least she didn’t call her a cutie pie like my husband’s boss did. So condescending!”

Condescending? Complementing a child’s looks is off limits too? As I eavesdropped on the two Femimamas, I quickly made a mental list of the words I typically use to pay respects to other people’s kids. Words like “doll,” “cutie,” “adorable,” etc., all came to mind.

Then, I checked back on some of my recent Facebook comments:

“What a doll!”
“He could be a model!”
“Your girls are gorgeous!”

Oh, shit. Guilty, guilty, guilty.

Have I been offending my friends all this time when I really just wanted to tell them their kid was pleasing to my eyes?

I took stock further: There was The Bear’s pink, princess-themed first birthday party (complete with crown), and the pink tulle tutu I got her for Christmas.  The fact that I propped her up on the couch to “watch” the royal wedding with me when she was only two months old.

The Femimamas would’ve fainted at all the Princessy-ness… or burned me at the stake. I started to fret: should I have thrown The Bear a Gertrude Stein-themed party instead? How many people are mad at me for calling their kid “cute?” Has being a stay-at-home mom made me a softy?

Back when I was a little girl, I remember Barbie’s girl-power fueled anthem cheered, “We girls can do anything!” It was so cool to me that Barbie could be an equestrian one day and a fry-girl at McDonald’s the next! Today, Barbie’s unrealistic body measurements and permanently arched high-heel-ready feet are symbols of what girls shouldn’t—or, physically can’t—aspire to be. I played with Barbies until I was 14 and I turned out… just fine… Right??

My mini freak-out lasted about 30 seconds until I shook off the self-doubt and gave myself a reality check. I consider myself a feminist and stand up for my ladyrights when I think they’re being infringed upon. I worked my ass off to succeed in a male-dominated industry and I’m proud that I can hold my own in a roomful of male executives with Ivy League pedigrees.

I want those same things for my daughter (that is, if that’s what she wants). A plastic princess crown and a love for Kate Middleton’s orange skinny jeans isn’t going to change that, ever.

The way I see it, everyone should aspire to his or her own version of greatness… there’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to be a princess, or at least aspiring to be treated like one. That doesn’t make you any less of a badass, ladies. It might make you a little more relaxed, though.

Oh, and to you Super Femimamas: Rock on, sisters. But if you’re seeking compliments on your kids’ intellect and not their looks, stop posting pictures of those adorable cutie pie baby dolls on Facebook 😉

Off to my princess tea party!

xoxo

Erin

Don’t Ring My Doorbell: I’m Afraid of You.

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So, I have a confession to make: I am utterly terrified of people coming to my front door. I literally just hid, crouching on the floor in my kitchen for 10 minutes, to avoid whoever rang my doorbell at noon on a weekday. It’s just the latest quirk on my growing list of rookie suburbanite neuroses.

Maybe it’s that I used to produce crime shows for a living and I’m a little spooked about home invasions, angry former interviewees, murderers posing as book salesmen or jealous exes (hello… remember Amy Fisher?!). Or, it might be that I just got a little too used to city living in an apartment building with video entry and I’m lazy.

But maybe it’s something deeper. Would I rather they email or text me first? Does this speak to larger deep-seated issues I might have about face-to-face contact in today’s text-email-Facebook-Twitter dominated landscape?

Nah. I love me some face-to-face action.

My fear of uninvited doorbell ringers stems mostly from the fact that Bruce Willis (our dog, not the actor, but maybe he’d go nuts too) goes ape whenever anyone rings the bell. This usually ignites a chain reaction that involves The Bear either waking up early from a nap and/or freaking out and chasing the dog, resulting in me chasing both of them, tripping, bruising something, and finally, once I’ve corralled both of them, angrily answering the door with an irate “WHAT,” only to discover that the person has left. So, I’ve just stopped answering altogether.

I’m shocked (and, clearly, dismayed) by the amount of unexpected people that ring our doorbell on a daily basis. At least once a day, and it’s never anyone I know. Sometimes it’s a neighborhood kid asking for a donation for his sports team (we usually oblige), but more often than not it’s the paid employee of a company asking—nay, telling—me to buy something.  So far no murderers, but then again, I only open the door one out of five times (usually when they’ve seen me in the window and I have no choice). I’m pretty positive those four unanswered doorbells saved all our lives.

My doorbell fear goes both ways, too. Two winters ago, when my brother-in-law was running for Alderman in Chicago, my husband recruited me to go door-to-door with him on a cold day to get signatures on a petition to get my BIL on the ballot… I suspect it was because I was 7 months pregnant, and the sight of a chubby, huffing, puffing, Preggo with a clipboard, pen and a smile would be disarming. I was terrified then, too. What if we caught someone on a bad day, and they came to the door with a baseball bat or a shotgun? Or, god forbid, what if they (gasp) yelled at us for bothering them?

In the end, it worked out pretty well… most of the people either happily signed or politely declined. There were a few Grumpies, but no baseball bats. [Also, I made sure to look extra pregnant and winded when they looked through their windows before opening. I think that was the trick. My BIL is a pretty stand up guy, too :)]

My husband had a hearty chortle last week when I told him I wanted to post a “No Soliciters” sign on our front gate. “Only you would be afraid of little kids coming to the door asking for money,” he laughed. Have I transformed into one of those hypothetical angry people I was afraid of encountering back on that blustery door-to-door day in Chicago? Sounds like it, huh?

Because I’m not really the unfriendly weirdo I seem like from my story above, I’ve decided to create my own sign for our front gate, to help clarify my neuroses:

Murderers: Keep out (obviously).

Salesmen: Leave me alone; our spare cash goes to The Bear.

Kids asking for money: Only when it’s not nap time.

Girl Scouts selling cookies: What the hell took you so long? Get in here, kid!

I’ll keep working on my front door phobia, but until then, Friends, if you’re planning to drop by for a visit, call me first. Otherwise you’ll know where to find me when you have to crawl in through the window because I don’t answer: under my dining room table.

Have a great night, Friends!

Oh, and thanks to everyone who’s started following me on Twitter (@eluda, @MommyTestDrive)! It makes me feel so loved! Post your Twitter name here and I promise I’ll return the favor!

xoxo
Erin