It’s Not All Mary Poppins

The moral of the story

Grace springs through the front door.

“I have Princess Shoes!!!”

We look down. Bright silver, covered with sequins. Those are some fancy shoes, all right. Wooo-eee. The other children make all appropriate noises of wonderment. Grace prances about, delighted.

Emma and I are less so. We had a long-ish walk planned for the tots. Emma checked Grace’s bag for the sports sandals that her sensible parents usually send along on the days Grace demands frivolous footwear. None. Not a sensible shoe in sight. Hm.

“They are my Princess Shoes!” Grace declares again, so very proud. We agree that yes, those sure do look like princess shoes! And wow, are they pretty! And sparkly!!

“The problem is,” I say, easing her off her peak as gently as possible, “that princess shoes are not always very comfortable to walk in, not for a long walk.”

We consider her feet.


“I can walk!!!” Grace, supremely confident. Grace, of course, has no idea. In her four-year-old mind, her Princess Shoes make her happy, so her shoes will be fine, just FINE! Mind over matter!

The question is, will those shoes still be making her happy after 3 km? Pfft. Showing appalling lack of faith, I, unlike Grace, am quite confident those shoes will be contributing to acute misery within a kilometre and a half. I note to Emma that we can always take them off and let her go barefoot if they start creating problems. Grace resists this notion.

“No, I can wear these! They are my Princess Shoes!!” Her lip starts to quiver.

Emma kneels down in front of Grace. “They sure are. That’s sort of the problem. Princess Shoes don’t act like real shoes, you know. Remember Cinderella? As soon as she started running away from the ball, what happened?”

Grace pauses, then her eyes widen.

“One falled off!”

“Exactly! Princess Shoes are like that. They’re very good at looking pretty, but not so good at acting like real shoes. So. As long as your Princess Shoes act like real shoes, you can wear them. But if they start acting like Princess Shoes, we’ll just put them in your bag and you can go barefoot.”

Grace nods.


Emma? Is a genius.

And Grace? Walked home barefoot.


August 13, 2013 Posted by | Grace, my kids, outings | , , | 3 Comments

Compromising with Reality

Once upon a time, there was a Young Mummy. She was a pretty Earnest Mummy, too, though three years of mothering and another baby on the way had battered burnished off some off the more egregious examples. Still, she endeavored to raise her daughter according to her principles. Principles which included all manner of worthy things, like teaching her daughter to manage her emotions, to work hard to achieve her goals, to be self-assertive yet considerate, to eat her greens.

Young Mummy’s little girl did not watch television at all until she was two and a half. Television, Young Mummy believed, was a pernicious influence on developing minds, and besides, we had better things to do with our time! Even books were evaluated with a stern and gimlet eye. Only enriching, empowering ideas for this mummy’s daughter!

Which is why, when doting grandparents gave the little girl a Cinderella video (this story happened years before DVD’s) for Christmas, the Young Mummy found herself on the horns of a dilemma. Disney’s Cinderella was so many things the Mummy deplored: It was television (pre-recorded or live: it was still ‘television’ to her). Worse, it was a story with a terrible moral for a developing young mind, particularly a female one. “Just be pretty, passive and obedient, and your Prince will come and solve all your problems for you!!!

The young mummy rolled her eyes. But it was Christmas, and the grandparents were thrilled by their gift, and who wants to be ungrateful at Christmas? Consideration and kindness were two of the values Young Mummy wanted to instill in her child, after all. Time to act on her own principles! Let the child watch the thing once, to give Grampa and Gramma the pleasure, and then ‘lose’ it in the fuss and commotion of the festivities.

And so the Little Girl watched Cinderella.

And the Little Girl was ENTRANCED.

Little Girl watched Cinderella three times over the week spent at Gramma and Grampa’s, and then travelled home with the video cradled in her arms, a much-beloved baby.

Okay, so this wasn’t optimal, but Young Mummy figured she could watch Cinderella with the Little Girl when they got home, and chat about it with her. Do a de-brief. Combat the insidious message. Plant the seeds of rebellion in her daughter’s mind. Give her an opposing viewpoint.

I have mentioned the Young Mummy was pregnant. After Christmas, she entered her third trimester, and all that lovely second-trimester energy draaaaaaaained away. Drained away entirely. Now the Young Mummy was tired. Tired, tired, tired all the time.

And unlike her first pregnancy, she could not nap when she was tired. She now had a three-year-old to care for. A three-year-old who, though she slept twelve lovely, unbroken hours each night, did not nap. Ever.

And oh, how Young Mummy craved a nap!

When the Little Girl asked Young Mummy if she could watch Cinderella one long and weary afternoon, the Mummy agreed. She had, after all, promised herself she would watch the thing with her daughter. They could snuggle up together on the couch, and Young Mummy could talk to her daughter about what they were seeing. So they lied down, Mummy set the video to play, the credits began…

and the Young Mummy fell asleep.

And stayed that way until her daughter wriggled off the couch. “It’s done, Mummy!”

An hour and fifteen minutes had passed. An hour and fifteen minutes in which the Little Girl had not stirred. An hour and fifteen minutes of blessed, blessed sleep.

And that is how it happened. For the last two and a half months of her pregnancy, the Young Mummy had a 75-minute nap Every.Single.Afternoon … And Every.Single.Afternoon her daughter sat immersed in The Cinderella Message.

The Young Mummy might have felt more guilty had she not been so very tired. She might have chosen a different video, perhaps … had she not been so very tired. But the latter weeks of pregnancy brought with it late pregnancy brain-rot (she honestly didn’t think of getting a different show) and inertia (she wouldn’t have wanted to go out and get one, even had she thought of it). She was only grateful. So very, very grateful for that daily nap.

Did she worry that she was rotting her poor daughter’s mind? Not so very much. Worrying takes energy, and she had none. At this point, it was all about survival.

Was the daughter scarred for life by 60-some doses of The Cinderella Story in her formative years?

I dunno.

You’ll have to ask her.

August 31, 2011 Posted by | my kids, parenting, pregnancy and delivery, socializing | , , , , , | 7 Comments