About two weeks ago, my aunt was getting rid of my little cousin Tyler’s little girl things. Tyler is beginning sixth grade and is ankle-deep in tweendom; so she has no need for things such as Dora The Explorer books and things like that. I left my aunt’s place with boxes of children’s books, a rocking chair that was originally my sister and mine, and some toys. When I looked into one of the boxes, there was a large replica of Cinderella’s Castle. Another box consisted of dozens of Disney Princess action figures: you name em, they were in there. I also noticed that there was a Disner Sing Along DVD that was dedicated to the Princesses as well.
Within a couple of days, Cydney was all kinds of digging into the box with the Princess figurines in them and playing with them. She would alter her voice and they would be having tea parties and other little adventures together. I thought this was cute and of course would play along with her. She eventually got a hold of the sing along DVD and wanted to “Watch Disney Princesses.”
As soon as I played the DVD, Pandora’s box burst open. Cydney’s eyes lit up and she watched intently. Looking at all of these ladies sing about being in love, waiting for love, and all of the above about love had her attention. The DVD was thirty-three minutes long. As soon as it ended, she wanted to watch another one. All I had was a bootleg copy of The Princess and the Frog that I took from somewhere because I used to put that on and watch it with Cydney all of the time. Not necessarily her favorite in the Disney Cannon, but it was enough to keep it going. After that movie ended, she wanted to watch another one. I searched around the house for old VHS tapes that belonged to my sister and I as children. I found Cinderella as well as Alice in Wonderland, The Return of Jafar, and Aladdin and the Forty Thieves; the latter three were VHS’ Timile and I bought at a Goodwill Store driving back to Atlanta from Florida a few years back. Cydney was all into Cinderella. As she watched it, she played with the princess figurines and I had to tell them their names (I had no Idea that Sleeping Beauty’s name wasn’t Sleeping Beauty).
All Cydney wants to do now is watch Disney Princesses. I welcome this, because I am just about sick of watching Nick Jr all of the time. I went out and bought two more DVD’s for Cydney so that I don’t lose it watching the same one over and over again. When one finishes, she asks for me to play another one, and then another one.
At this point, she is familiar with who most of the princesses are and has declared that her name is Sleeping Beauty. When out and about and people have asked her what her name is she responds as “Sleeping Beauty.” I am “Princess Man” (Sometimes I’m Belle) and my mother is “Cinderella.” Either way, this whole thing has captured Cydney’s imagination and I know that this is just the beginning.
At the end of the sing-along DVD, there is a song called “Where Dreams Begin.” It’s a cute song where some lady sings about true love is well, where dreams begin, and that it is wonderful and stuff. It romanticizes the idea of love and that there is a happily ever after that can occur when the right prince comes along to whisk away these ladies in some kind of adverse situation (Finding a suitor vs true love, hanging around with seven little people in a forest, trying to make nice with some hairy monster-thing that could maul her if she said the wrong thing, etc.).
The adult in my that is three quarters cynical says that this is crap; but then reality kicks in and I think about how that’s not true. As a child, little girls everywhere believe that someday their prince will come and being in love will be as wonderful as the movies they grew up watching made it seem. The truth is that it is; these movies just don’t show how much work it takes to maintain them or how many jerks and assholes you may wind up encountering along the way.
Whether I agree or disagree with this, I have to believe in this idea because my daughter does. Not only that, but I guess I’ve been through it myself. I met a young girl who had been through some a terrible upbringing, bad relationships, and depression. I was the one who in spite of how much some days it wore me out selflessly do what I could to restore her and give her the best life I knew how (In fact, when my cousin Tyler was five and she met Timile she was so shy because she said that she was so pretty and looked like a princess). The movie ended a little differently than how Walt and his people create and I’d have every right to be cynical. But I can’t be. Like any parent, I want the best for her and hope that it works out for her just like it does in the movies where some selfless [wealthy] man comes along and is willing to make all of her pain go away and treat her like a princess…because she’s mine and someone else will recognize that one day.