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February 28, 2009

The Princess and the Pee

Abby_at_three  By Marcia Talley

What's a mom do when her daughter has a princess fetish -- and mother knows a handsome prince is a dangerous desire? Award-winning author Marcia Talley talks about how her daughter solved this issue in today's blog.

My granddaughter, Abigail, just turned three. I have plenty of experience shopping for her older brothers, but hadn’t bought a birthday gift for a three-year-old since my grown daughters were her age.  I went off to the mall, confident I’d-Know-It-When-I-Saw-It.

Three hours later I’d seen more pink satin and tulle, enough wands, tiaras, boas and powderpuff, open-toed mules to outfit Sweet Sue and Her All Girl Band in Some Like It Hot; more bling than Bourbon Street at Mardi Gras.  By the time I got to Tar-Jay and found myself seriously considering a Nintendo game called “Super Princess Peach”

where pre-adolescent girls carrying parasols and dressed in pink satin frills and elbow-length white gloves run an obstacle course like a platoon of Marine recruits at Parris Island, I threw up my hands. 
According to the New York Times, there are over 25,000 Disney Princess items on the market — including band-aids, paper cups, lip balm and crayons — and I’d seen at least 10,000 of them. 
 ‘What’s with this princess mania?” I asked my daughter, Laura, Abigail’s mother.
“They are *&^% everywhere!” she tells me, “including Abby’s Huggies Pull-ups.  So, in case you are asked, Cinderella is a civil rights lawyer for Human Rights First (Prince Charming is her Charming Paralegal Assistant), Jasmine is Vice President for Marketing at Arabian Exports/Imports International and Ariel is a marine biologist with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute.  They like to get together at their Mt. Holyoke reunions.  They're dressed up in gowns on the Pull-ups because they are about to attend one of the official inaugural balls for President Obama.  And why is Cinderella singing to the bird on her hand?  She trains parakeets as a hobby, to relieve the stress from the trial work.” 

Laura, an attorney, wishes there were movies like Cinderella and the Afghan Asylum Seekers or Snow White Organizes the United Mine Workers Union.

Nevertheless, I figured it’d be kinda kool to take my granddaughter to Club Libby Lu for a Princess Makeover Party, but alas, due to the financial crisis, Saks closed them all down at the end of January.
Maybe I’ll take Abby paintballing instead.


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Things I'm thankful for:
1. My sons are grown.
2. I had boys.

Good blog, if a bit unnerving.

I'm certain my father was thrilled that his 5 daughters were tomboys. Mom was too, she seldom had to worry about princess gowns, tulle, tiaras, and lots of pink.

She did buy Barbies and girly things for us. I promptly cut the hair and later decapitated my Barbie. I even held the sisters' dolls hostage at least once.

I preferred reading books, collecting horse statues, and running around playing cowboys and indians to playing with dolls.

I always wanted and never did get an electric train... It's probably a good thing that we never had kids.

Three or four years ago, I thought it was so cool when a great little children's clothing and gift shop near me (now gone out of business, sigh) had the cutest little tiaras. But, yep, if all the options we're giving our little princesses now have to do with princessdom, they're in trouble and so are we. (Believe me, some of the grad students I see these days would throw their grannies out the window without a second thought--they're 'entitled' to life without the burden of an aging relative, you see.)
Being of a certain age, I can't bear to think what 'cougar Barbie' might be . . . ickh?

Brief hijack. Today's my birthday, and it has been 15 birthdays now since I bought any sinus/allergy medication. When I read ya'll's discussion of the cost of Zyrtec, etc., I just SO want to save you hundreds and to point you to the nearest acupuncturist/herbalist (a real herbalist, not a drug-store consultant, no offense to them, they're just not trained in herbal medicine) and reassure you how much money you can save in the long term by a short term investment in natural healthcare.
Back to Marcia's topic . . . I spent a lot more time hanging upside down from the 'trapeze' on our really old swingset than I did with my dolls!

When will Disney switch to adult Princess Toys? You know, selling Jasmine's red outfit for adult (married) couple play? I, for one, would LOVE to be a giant snake, um, I mean, Jafar.

I could quickly come up with other products, but 1) do I really need to? and 2) I don't want the Tarts to get a C&D letter.

Oh, and on a more on-topic note, I bet that taking her to paintball would be one of the most memorable experiences of her childhood. I would go with that.

All the preteen princesses in our crowd absolutely love laser tag. 3 might be a bit young, though.

I love Abigail's mother's solution! Kids do believe what you tell them, and listen to their parents (at least when they're three).Reading aloud to one's children allows for parental explanation and indoctrination. I'm all for it.

Like Laraine and Peg, I found dolls and princesses dull, and upset my parents by refusing to play with the toy kitchen they bought me one Christmas. I still stay out of kitchens. I am not a princess. I am a diva, which is a whole lot more fun.

Marcia - it's always great to see you here. Check out the following books for your grand daughter:

The Paper Bag Princess

Princess Smartypants


My daughter had a Laser Tag party and loved it. Paint ball hurts. No kidding.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY Laraine!! How does one find a real herbalist? I'm not kidding - is there some kind of self-regulatory group?

Josh - Disney sells them already. Check out the online store. I still wear my Tigger costume for Halloween if I'm going to be seeing little kids.

Here's to divas! I had three of those--no princesses here.

One of my biggest beefs is the separation by gender at the toy store/aisle. It's clearly defined, by color first of all. But you do NOT have to buy into it. My girls all had doctor kits, building sets (Lego, and much larger), puzzles, trucks, and yes, a kitchen set. That my grandson thinks is the coolest thing ever, by the way. I dragged it out of the attic for him a few months ago and when he saw it he made a beeline to start dinner.

We also had tons of gender-neutral Fisher Price toys, like the farm and the parking garage, and the house, and a bunch of other stuff, which I made a mat for out of a sheet. You can buy these now, but I just used a Magic Marker to make roads, trace around the various FP Little People buildings, etc. The girls had a ball making their little families drive back and forth to each place and kept them busy for hours. We did have Barbies (how can you keep them out when that was the most popular birthday present for years?), but our Barbies did "extreme sports", like parachuting out the second floor windows with the handles from plastic grocery bags under their armpits to create parachutes (which never did work right, by the way). The daughter that did that ended up an engineer.

Hubby had an electric train, and he dragged it out of his parent's house, and took our youngest two with him to find the parts that didn't work, and they helped him repair them. They completely excluded me from all that. I think the really only "girly" thing we did was learn to sew. I was a sewing teacher at the time, so we had all sorts of equipment here and all three of us could work on something at the same time. They also took classes with my young students, and my middle daughter was probably my best marketer, dragging her friends into classes.

There are plenty of action-related toys that girls enjoy. Look for the Go, Diego, Go! stuff. There is a Dora the Explorer equivalent, but again, why separate by gender? Buy them both for her.

With 3 older brothers, I was a tomboy. My parents weren't into buying toys much either.
Bikes were the most important 'toys'. We had a creek behind the house so we caught tadpoles & frogs, built rafts & skated in the winter. We built a tree house up by the footbridge.
LOL none of the boys in the neighborhood even thought of keeping me out of the crowd, I could have kicked their asses!

I have to ask if Laura writes, because that is one terrific paragraph!

The princess thing is not new--I had a princess Halloween costume (complete with gold sequined tiara) in kindergarten and that was (ulp) half a century ago. I had the Madame Alexander dolls that were the precursor to Barbie (dang, when did I get to be so old?). But in my own defense, I was a tomboy, and I made my own (um, anatomically-correct) "boy" doll long before Ken was invented.

My daughter was never a girly-girl, although one year when I was out of work I had time on my hands and made a truly over-the-top satin princess outfit. But the following year she was half of a pair of fuzzy dice.

Happy birthday, Laraine! And I second the idea of natural health care. It has changed my life for the better.

My daughters (and son) were completely into Disney Princess stuff -- but only for awhile. My firstborn was over it by age 4, and just last month my youngest daughter packed up all princess paraphernalia, the clothes, calendars, pillows, books, CDs, clock, etc. etc., put it into a box and asked me to give it to the poor kids. It's the End of an Era.

On to iCarly and the Jonas Brothers.

Happy birthday Laraine!

Rita, we must be twins.

The boy next door was the only grandkid & got spoiled rotten by Grandma, neat toys!
Tho the princess is too young right now, we spent many days in the basement with the science & chemistry sets. (so I should have done well with those subjects in school. NO, maybe we played with the mercury too much LOL)
He had a swingset, pool, golf game (plastic clubs) but we had pocket knives & played split & mumbly-peg too!
Gee, now a pocket knife is considered a WMD!
Get even with your daughter, get the kid a drum set! EVIL!!!

Kathy, many states now have licensing boards that are as rigorous as those for MDs or even more rigorous . . . particularly California. An acupuncturist licensed in California (has LAc designation instead of MD) is a well-trained Chinese herbalist. Some states acknowledge us as Doctors of Oriental Medicine (DOM) or similar titles. Places to look might be through www.acupuncture.com, http://www.nccaom.org/find/index.html, or http://healthprofs.com/cam/
You'll find practitioners who have gone through graduate school and/or doctoral level training, internships, etc., etc.

Rita--I played drums, and glockenspiel, and piano . . . a little something for the tomboy in me, something to torture the neighbors (innocently, honest!), and the more feminine, Beethoven-loving side. I'm with you: drum set!!

Quick hijack: My book arrived today--thank you Michele!

Thanks Laraine!

Great blog, Marcia, and great to see you here!

Harley, I can promise you the Jonas Brothers fetish will end soon. My nine-year-old and his buds have to make a point of disdaining them, and Miley Cyrus too. (But he loves iCarly). As for dolls and other girly things, I loved them, and I turned out okay. As you can imagine, I was obsessed with plastic Barbie shoes, the higher the heel the better!!

Oh, please, tell me that Miley Cyrus will be a has-been by the time Abby reaches age ten!

Laura *is* a terrific writer, and regularly blogs on a website called Ship of Fools. Most of the time, however, she's writing legal opinions. I keep hoping she'll write my books for me -- ha ha ha.

Well, Miley is 16 now, so she can't pretend to be a teeny bopper much longer. Is that a consolation, Marcia?

I'm happily ignorant as to who or what iCarly might be.

Great to see you here, Marcia. Hope to see you at Chessie SinC meetings after your sojourn in the Bahamas.

My daughter was into My Little Pony and Ewoks, but not so much Barbie (which I loved and still have the original clothes). My son was into the Disney movies (particularly 101 Dalmatians which he played so many times the tape broke) and then graduated to $5.00 action figures, transformers and fingerboarding (a little skateboard you move with fingers).

I was really lucky that when they were young we had a lot of places to hold birthday parties. We had the indoor playground Discovery Zone (now closed), a laser tag place (now closed), and Zany Brainy (now closed). In case you think that's a trend, you're right.

However we still have a local gymnastics place, the bowling alley and a movie theater that has a kid's party room.

I have two great-nieces who have always loved girly stuff. When they visited recently we went to an old tavern in Annapolis that has afternoon tea on Sundays and they loved that. They also adore Build-A-Bear Workshops, where I know they hold birthday parties.

Also some nail salons or spas have sessions for little girls to have manicures and makeup or hairdos.

Good luck in your party quest!

My 5 year old grandson asked for a Ken doll for Christmas. His father threw a fit, but he got one. He just wanted one so he could play with his sister. But I heard that he threw a fit in Target the other day because they couldn't find any Ken clothes. He looked the kid in charge of the toy dept (for the day) right in the eye & said, "That's discrimination, you know!"

His 7 year old sister is completely girly girl. She will build things with legos, but she loves her Fancy Nancy doll & clothes, Hannah Montana & High School Musical.

Oh, lord.

I'm crazy about the Build-a-Bear workshops, too. So many outfits, so little time!

For Christmas in 2006 my sister gave me a "Fredbird" Build a Bear, complete with World Series Champs patch on his sleeve.

He is so soft & I love him!

After a lifetime of fighting the Barbie thing..............gace up on the princess in the grandaughters' play.
Welcome and see you at the festival in Pittburgh on May 4th.

I was soooo hoping for a granddaughter so I could fully explore the Fancy Nancy phenomenon.--I was unnerved by the thought of planning dress-up play and toy-buying when my new grandson came along.--But now I see it's a whole new world for me.--Yay!

Thanks for guesting here, Marcia.

It's very funny.Thanks for sharing......

My daughter is the biggest tomboy. she plays video games and baseball. Likes superheroes and not barbie. I love it

Wow!! You did great! Very nice. Oh that would have totally passed for my daughters Disney princess party, complete with a all the princesses.

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