I know that girls want to be pretty. We have some sort of innate desire to be beautiful and to be noticed. So, it didn’t surprise me when the girls suddenly became obsessed with the Disney princesses wanting to don princess dresses of their own. I was delighted when, once royally adorned, they immediately and instinctively recognized that they must spin around in circles to achieve the full potential of their tiny frocks all the while saying, “Dada, look! Dada, look! Pretty dress.” That will melt a mama’s heart.
So, like I said, none of this surprised me. I have my own fond memories prancing around with my sister singing in old flower girl dresses pretending to be Belle or Ariel. Our girls know all of the princess’ names and at least one song from each movie that they regularly request mama to sing or attempt to sing it on their own. Forgive my perpetuating gender stereotypes, but I think this obsession is cute and so I go with it.
Their fascination has taken a turn that I didn’t expect, however. A few weeks ago, we let them sit down and watch The Little Mermaid in its entirety (sorry to all the parents out there who are against movie watching at this age). They were completely enthralled with the movie and didn’t take their eyes from the screen the entire time. They picked up on the parts that I expected them to: Ariel’s song, all the fish. Under the Sea, etc. But Lucy especially seemed to gravitate toward the one character I expected to fast-forward through: Ursula. For whatever reason, Lucy was captivated by this corpulent villainess. She laughed and squealed with delight whenever she was on screen. When Ursula’s more devious nature was revealed, Lucy looked at us and explained, “Ursula is mad!” And so it began. Whenever we talked about Ariel or the other princesses, Lucy’s immediate input was, “Ursula is mad!”
The fixation didn’t stop at The Little Mermaid. We were watching a brief sing-a-long video of Snow White’s “I’m Wishing” when the evil stepmother made a fleeting appearance as she glanced disapprovingly down at the Prince and Snow White. I’m not kidding; she was on screen for probably less than five seconds. But, of course, she was who Lucy spotted and immediately asked about. “Who is that?” and so I told her, “That’s the bad queen.” For days now, all she wants to talk about is how the “bad queen is mad.” They saw the end of Snow White and were far more concerned that the “bruja” (Spanish for witch, that’s what we named her) fell off the mountain than poor Snow White falling “asleep.”
So, my psychoanalytic friends, what does it all mean? Why are my sweet princess daughters being lured away by these evil villains? Even our nighttime routine was taken captive by these wicked antiheros. When it comes time to say our prayers, the girls list friends and family members and then, without fail, Ursula and the “bad queen”. There are a few different things one could take away from this development. Are the girls showing a propensity for the dark side? I am going to choose not to think so. I am going to choose to see it this way. The girls are teaching us a very important lesson: Pray for thine enemies. May we all be so loving.