Recently we invited five princesses over for tea (aka chocolate milk).
Princess Girlchild was the hostess of her very first all-girls party to celebrate the momentous occasion of her fourth birthday. The theme was “A Princess Tea Party,” and guests were encouraged to wear a princess costume if they had one. Girlchild had some spare gowns just in case, but they weren’t needed. We had some Cinderellas and Snow White and Sleeping Beauty, complete with purses and wand accessories. Herself was a purple princess belonging to no particular corporate entity, although her Minnie Mouse gown was on standby.
I really had no idea what to expect of this extravaganza. Our universe has been quite boy-oriented because our circle of friends has seen a preponderance of boy babies. So while Girlchild has had playdates with girls, up until now interaction with them was a fairly Rare and Exciting Occasion.
The same is true for birthday parties. Most for Girlchild have been family affairs, and if any kids were there they tended to be the Usual Suspects: her older brother and the two sons of our best friends. Boychild’s parties tend to be rigorous affairs involving a lot of food for hungry short people after a tobogganing party. There is lots of running and shouting – you know, boy stuff.
Girlchild has been a fixture at those events by virtue of living in this house and she has also been included in the parties of the two buddies, usually because I hang out to help.
So, I wanted to find out whether the three boys, ages 6, 7 and 9, would be heartbroken if they were not included in a birthday tea party featuring the four- and five-year-old princess set. they weren’t. Boychild offered to stay if he could dress up like a vampire and scare the princesses. I politely declined and shipped him off for a playdate with the buddies.
Next, as I dutifully prepared the nibblies for the party, it dawned on me that I had waaaaaay too much food. Girls, as you may have noticed, often eat like sparrows. The good news is we had enough chopped fruit and veggies and other stuff to make meals for our family for a couple of days afterwards.
I was also concerned about how the noise and energy level of a girl’s party would compare to a boy’s. Did I have enough cotton balls and Tylenol on hand to ease the pain from the shrieking? Would they be racing around in their princess gowns delivering belligerent shrieky orders? What a treat it turned out to be, though! There was neither shrieking nor yelling. The most action came when the girls wanted to go up to Girlchild’s room and had to navigate the stairs in their gowns, and that was handled with princess-like finesse, with some scooching down on their bums.
We played pin the tail on the unicorn and bingo and musical chairs, and then several of the girls decided to do some colouring. Neato! The coolest thing of all, though, was watching Girlchild with her girlfriends.
I truly stand in awe of Girlchild’s self-confidence. I’m not sure where it comes from, but I wish I could bottle some of it and take a teaspoon now and again. She loves people and trying new things; she’s adventurous and brave and charming and fun.
Yes, I am biased.
When the princesses arrived she played a DVD of her dance recital from last spring and led them all in a dance. “Okay. Now do this,” she’d say while doing a plié. “Now hold hands and let’s go around.”
“Is she usually this bossy at school?” I asked the girls, who were obediently following Girlchild’s commands. They all shook their heads no, but some were grinning so I can’t be too sure.
Watching her lead the princesses in a dance reminded me of my hopes for her, and for Boychild, too, that they will be natural leaders with good ideas and that they will inspire people to dance – or whatever positive euphemism you want to use in dance’s place.
On that day, though, it was simply about having fun as a princess for the day, and that’s just fine.
(Published in The Perth Courier, Nov. 10/09)