Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Paleontologist Princess

When we were expecting our first child, we swore if the baby was a girl that we would avoid dressing her in pink. We purposely didn't find out the baby's sex so that we wouldn't be inundated with gender-specific clothing, toys, and books. We wanted to raise our child without buying into the stereotypes: girls play with dolls, while boys play with trains. Girls wear pink, while boys wear blue. Girls want to grow up to be princesses, while boys want to be superheroes.

This worked, for a little while. We styled our baby in graphic tees and camo shorts. Her first pair of walking shoes were red- and-white checkered Vans. She had more cars, trains, trucks, and buses than she had dolls.
Then, she began to have opinions. As she got older and began choosing toys out of the bin, she would go for the baby dolls over the trucks. She began to forego the train for the shopping cart. She wanted to play with the princess puzzle, not the rainforest one. She wanted to wear the sparkly Mary Janes instead of the Vans. And she wanted to wear pink. Dresses. Jewelry. High heels. And then, there was The Princess Party. For her 3rd birthday, we celebrated in Chicago with a "Ladies Luncheon."
And, back home we celebrated on her actual birthday with The Little Mermaid.
And, because it was cute and because grandmas, grandpas, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends (and yes, even parents) enjoy hearing the squeals of delight that are elicited by the opening of presents containing baby's new favorite things, she began receiving more dolls, princesses, dresses, and frilly pink tutus than we knew what to do with.
As Ella got older and began watching parent-approved shows and movies (and began being influenced by other kids' interests), she began to fall under the spell of the likes of Ariel and Belle and Tiana, the Frog Princess. At first, we were amused. Then, we were relieved at how easy it was to get an hour or two to ourselves...so we introduced The Swan Princess. Then, it was Peter Pan and Tinkerbell. Then Rapunzel. And along with every movie came the "action" figure, and then her friends, and then her "things." Before we knew it, she was dressing like her favorite princess--a different one each day, thanks to the trunksful of velour dresses, crowns, and jewelry she got for two consecutive Christmases.

But then, just as we were becoming disgusted with ourselves for allowing her to be brainwashed into thinking all girls needed to find a prince to marry and live happily ever after, the tide began to turn. Mike got her a skateboard for her 4th birthday, albeit with bright pink wheels. Her godmother, Amy, introduced her to roller derby, even christening her with her own derby name.
She was just as interested in playing with tools as she was tulle.
She enjoyed swimming, and running, and jumping, and climbing, and biking, and kayaking.
And then, she surprised us all when she announced what she wanted to be when she grew up: a paleontologist. For weeks, all she wanted to listen to was "I Am a Paleontologist" by They Might Be Giants. Every time we got in the car, she wanted to hear the story of "Dr. von Wahlde, Paleontologist." She pretended to go on digs for fossils. She loved the dinosaur exhibit at the Peabody Museum. And she had a birthday party complete with dinosaur cupcakes, inflatable dinosaurs, fossils, dinosaur tattoos, and miniature dinosaurs.

Today, she alternates between telling us she wants to be a paleontologist princess and a paleontologist mom. Her princesses live next to the Playmobil volcano under the shadow of the Triceratops and T-rex who live there too. And somehow, they all just get along. So, I guess Disney hasn't cornered the market on little girls, after all.

1 comment:

Jessica Patton Pellegrino said...

oh, love this! Great photos. I am nearly as lousy a blog-reader as blogger so thanks for stopping by so I could follow you back HERE! xoxo