And so this week’s moment of happiness despite the news.
Whenever Grandbaby Maya Mae visits, she never just walks into the room. She makes an ENTRANCE.
A few days ago, when Maya Mae arrived, before she even took off her winter jacket, hat and mittens, she marched – MARCHED – over to me and held out a sparkly crown. “Gamma Kaffee,” she announced imperiously, “I am going to be a pwincess for the west of my WIFE.” She tore off her winter stuff, plunked the crown on her long-haired head, and sat with a huff onto my couch. She crossed her arms, her eyebrows V’d in, and there she was, ready to rule.
Yes, ma’am, Maya Mae, ma’am.
I’ve read a lot lately about little girls and princesses and forced expectations of society. This seems to be a never-ending discussion. In general, it seems that if a little girl wants to be a princess, it’s because she’s being force-fed girlishness from television and movies and toy manufacturers and so on. I admit, I thought about this and looked at the Maya Mae version of princess on my couch and I laughed.
Maya Mae wants to be a princess for the rest of her WIFE. This child on my couch did not recline in a gown, her hair done, her fingers manicured, waiting for a prince to come by and kiss her and make her Somebody. This princess was Somebody already. And she was a Somebody under her own power.
When I read those articles, I felt a bit guilty. Was I supposed to tell Maya that she isn’t supposed to want to be a princess? In this time (and all the previous times) of telling girls they can be whatever they want to be, are we supposed to add, “But don’t want to be THAT.” Is part of being whatever you want to be also NOT being what we’ve deemed unacceptable? Frankly, I think the princess nay-sayers aren’t seeing what today’s little girl means when she says she wants to be a princess. Pwincess. Princess.
She wants to be the BOSS. To hell with the prince. Just give her a crown, dammit, and let’er rip.
Maya has always been surrounded with other encouragements. Yes, she watches princesses on television, but she also watches shows about tools and building things and creating inventions and veterinarians and music and imagination. She has an aunt who is about to earn her PhD in math, and that aunt gives Maya all things STEM. She has a grandma (guess who?) who supplies her with books and art supplies and who cheered and clapped when Maya showed her new name-writing expertise. Maya appeared in a video the other day, filmed by another grandma, as Maya worked on making an apple pie and narrated how to do so, pretending to be on her own YouTube channel.
And through all of it, building, writing, drawing, baking, Maya Mae wears a crown. Because she wants to be a pwincess for the west of her WIFE. Princess. Pwincess.
As far back as I can remember, I wanted to be a writer. As soon as I learned how to write my letters, I was off, writing stories. I wrote my first novel in the fifth grade. Started submitting when I was twelve, published for the first time when I was fifteen. And through all of it, I was told I couldn’t do it. I was told I wasn’t smart enough. I wasn’t good enough. Then I was told it had to remain a hobby because my work was worthless.
“What do you think, that you can write the Great American Novel?”
Yes. Yes, I did. I’ve sat on a couch with my arms crossed too.
Grandbaby Maya Mae smiled at me, a sparkly crown on her head, her arms crossed, her eyebrows V’d, her stuffed kitten named Hightop Junior beside her. Every princess needs a sidekick, donchaknow. To me, her inherent royalty just glowed. What a future she has. She can be whatever she chooses to be. Pwincess. Princess. Pwincess.
Nobody is going to tell this child what she can’t do.
“Maya Mae,” I said, “you just go ahead and be a pwincess for the west of your WIFE.”
She gave a world-weary sigh. “Gamma Kaffee,” she said, “I’m not going to be a pwincess for the west of my wife. I’m going to be a PWINCESS for the WEST of my WIFE.”
I corrected myself. “A PRINCESS for the REST of your LIFE.” I heard her.
She beamed. I bowed.
All hail, Princess Maya Mae.
And yes, that helps. Despite. Anyway.