The Day My Daughter's Princess Role-Play Went Too Far
My daughter had some unusual favorite activities as a preschooler. One of her most-loved pastimes was to take a screwdriver around the house and tighten screws in furniture, toys, and other items. I figured it was good for her fine motor skills and was even helping maintain our household, so it was a win-win.
Another one of her hobbies was mopping the floor. Only, she didn’t just want to hold the mop and swipe it around the kitchen. She would ask –even beg—me to give her a bucket of water and a large sponge so that she could scrub the floor like her favorite-at-the-time princess, Cinderella (this was shortly before Ariel and Belle hit the big screens and took old Cindy’s place as the princess du jour).
I knew supervised water play was loads of fun and beneficial to her development, so again, I thought, “What the heck?” I would give her a big plastic bowl of clean water (don’t worry, no nasty cleaning chemicals in there) and an oversized sponge and sat in the kitchen with her while she scoured away. My floors were never cleaner.
She enjoyed sweeping and dusting, as well, although this was typically only when she was playacting as Cinderella or some other downtrodden princess. I loved snapping photos of her with her tiny broom or giant sponge and an overly dramatic look of woe on her face as she pretended a wicked stepmother or evil fairy had condemned her to performing menial tasks as though she were a common girl. Gasp! The very thought of it.
A few short years and several major milestones later, my daughter had long forgotten the days when cleaning was an entertaining way to pass the time. Now, when I asked her to help around the house or assigned her regular chores, she balked at the idea.
In fact, those keepsake photos of her childhood princess antics came back to haunt me.
“You only had me so that you could have a maid!” she’d say, waving those photos at me as evidence to back up her claim.
Yep, you did it. You figured out my master plan.
And just like that, she was once again playing the down-trodden princess. Only this time, I was cast as the evil stepmother. The big difference being...
I went through a harrowing unplanned teen pregnancy and stayed up for nights on end with a colicky infant. I wore myself out working long hours and extra days at labor-intensive jobs in order to pay rent, buy food, and afford childcare. I spent nights in the bathroom surrounded by steam from the shower to clear a croupy cough, spent hours at urgent care waiting for a doctor to check out infected ears, and rushed to the E.R. when her nose would not stop bleeding.
I did all of this and more so that we could have a built-in servant with a quick, sarcastic wit who would go to the trouble of rolling an UNPLUGGED vacuum cleaner around the living room just to make it look like she had vacuumed.
Oh yes, that was my scheme. Aren’t I just brilliant?
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