A rugged individualist punches into the Disney compound.

Three year old daughter acting up in a restaurant this afternoon.  Child extricated before meal arrives.  Time out on the sidewalk bench in front of the bistro.  Three year old pouting, arms crossed.

“You know, you can’t be a princess if you don’t use your manners.”

“Why I can’t?”

“Because princesses are nice to everyone.  Ariel, Jasmine, Cinderella…they always use their best manners.”

“Well, Daddy, I am a mean, mean princess.”

“Princesses are good. How can you be a princess if you are mean?  There’s no such thing.”

Three year old thinking hard for a long beat.  Then, softly, wearily, as if sad for me:

“Silly, Daddy.  You just don’t know princess things.”


In for a bumpy ride with this one.



  • As the father of a daughter (first on my dad’s side of the family in 4 generations) who’s 5 going on 30, I can sympathize.

    • Ha. Yes, I forgot this dynamic. My daughter was the the first on living memory on my husband’s side and one of the few on generations on mine. There was a lot of pent up demand from the extended families to buy all things girly from all the stores.

    • I am hanging my head in shame. I had no idea that this company ripped off the intellectual property of the beastie boys until yesterday. Bad move, disgusting business practices.

  • I feel your pain. When my daughter, now in high school, was 16 months old and still in diapers, I had her on the changing table one morning getting her ready for day care as she twisted her head to see what outfit I’d pulled out of the drawer. She then loudly announced, “NO, Daddy, I want the RED shirt. LISTEN TO MY WORDS.”

    She found out in her government class this week that she can’t run for Congress until she turns 25 and announced to me, “Well, THAT’S bull—-.”

    She’ll be eligible to vote in 2016. I pity the fools…..

  • I don’t know how many other kids you have, but she sounds like you’ll have a lot of fun with her as she gets older, until she hits her teens, and then after she becomes human again around 19 or 20. All the best.


  • Thank you so much for taking your princess and her picque outside.
    Sometimes we all need, in the words of my mother, a moment to gather ourselves.

    You gotta love that she’s funny.

    I just pray, for your sake, that your ride doesn’t include going to a concert of whatever derivation of 1 Direction exists when she turns 12.

    That is a journey into hell.

  • Bless your heart, but Li’l Miss Simon is on point. Jasmine and Ariel always disobeyed their fathers (you’re lucky she didn’t comb her hair with a fork at the table), and Cinderella was forever sneaking out to party with boys.

    Shoulda gone with Belle. That way she’d read your books, tolerate your eccentric household inventions, resist marrying a cad like Gaston and single-handedly save you from both Beast and village torch-and-pitchfork mob. Which let’s face it, might come in handy one day…

    • I don’t know. Belle’s got that Stockholm syndrome.

      As an aside, my daughter was in her school’s version on Beauty and the Beast. She was a dancing feather duster. See what all the feminist parenting got me????

  • My daughter, recent college grad and now adventuring in Thailand for undetermined duration responded at about the same age to some parental directive….who do you think I am, Cinderella?

    Hang on with both hands pal. It’s a wild ride.

  • Great to see your daughter has absorbed an upside down land interpretation of what a princess is and can be.

    Just wanted to thank you for your speech and panel at last weeks FODI in Sydney and to pass on a photo that you might find amusing.

    As you recall, the issue of new laws in Queensland regarding bikies – er bikers – came up. These laws include, among other things, the idea of a separate prison where they would be forced to wear pink overalls.

    This just tweeted from north of the border:

    cheers, and thanks for coming to visit.


    • That was a great gig. At one point, I had to pause in my remarks, look around, and tell myself: “Hey, fucknuts, you’re talking on the stage of the Sydney Opera House. At which point, of course, I lost the train of thought altogether.

  • Love it! I’m impressed that you both know all the princess names. I can’t get my three-year-old son to sit still long enough to watch a Disney movie. When I fuss at him, he starts humming the Texas Aggie War Hymn, and I don’t know where he learned that.

  • Tee hee. Now you’re swimming in my ocean.

    My unsolicited advice — don’t ask anything of the girl child that you wouldn’t ask of the boy child. I have one of each, about 20 months apart in age, so I had a good science lab going on in the toddler years. Take for example a certain fast food giant’s so-called Happy Meals. I’d oblige their narrow gender stereotypes by ordering one girl meal and one boy meal. Boy would get some cool transforming robot thing and girl would get a pretty princess headband.

    What’s the message there?

    Even worse, long after that robot was lost and forgotten under a car seat, that girl would be proudly wearing her princess headband everywhere.

    I realize your conversation happened in the context of princess-land, but would you ask a three year old boy to behave as a prince? Are princes nice and well behaved?

    I suggest spending time in Universal Orlando – The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Fun stuff, nice costumes, but more imagination and balanced gender roles.

    And a book for her — The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch. The princess is fierce – she conquers all manners of dragons and existential threats to rescue her boyfriend from dire straits. When she succeeds, he complains that she looks a mess. I very clearly remember the next line from reading this 10 years ago to my own kids – She tells boyfriend Ronald — You are a bum.

    The books ends with “They didn’t get married after all.”

    My two science projects are growing up – one a teen, one almost a teen. They’re fairly grounded and balanced kids. I tried to stay open to it all and the only thing I ever outright forbade was tackle football, and that was because I like my son’s brain. Even though the girl never found Barbies interesting, she did recently go see the One Direction movie and tell me it was the best movie she’s ever seen. So, there’s always work to do, I suppose.

    And yes, for sure, make sure your seltbelt is buckled and your lap bar is in a locked position. She sounds like a special kid.

    • I should mention that she has been declaring herself a princess for months now, an organic development. Disney has it in the ether.

      • “…it [is] in the ether”

        That’s pronounced DNA…

        Ah evolutionary psychology: It’s the one area the Left is as anti-science as those Philistein right wingers. Yes cultural sexism exists and it is horrid; but our sexual dimorphism and resulting evolutionary psychology is a much much larger determinant for all these gender roles that has second wave feminists apoplectic.

        However, I just knew someone would blame Disney for these phebomena… (And I knew I’d just have to respond derisively. My DNA makes me want to be an arrogant prick all the time*).

        * Mr Simon might recognize this genetic predisposition in himself if he is feeling especially self-critical/objective these days 😉

        • Why bring pithy ideas of left and right into this discussion? That’s just irrelevant and argumentative.

          As far as poor, blameless Disney, you know that their version of fairy tales are not true to the originals, right? They are super-sanitized versions of dark and disturbing stories full of sexual perversions and barbaric violence. Disney adapted those stories to make them marketable — childlike young white women are punished by other women for being pretty, but if they stay demure and patient, a man will come save them. (I know Disney has made efforts to change that in recent years.)

          What do you find to be evolutionarily true about that?

          In what way does telling our children those stories prepare them for our world? They don’t of course. These are safe stories that make a complicated world less scary, therefore have become cash cows for Disney. These stories preserve a non-threatening version of social order.

          And to your second wave feminism comment. I am not a second wave feminist as that was a social movement that lasted from the early 60s to the early 80s. During those years, I was either not born or in my childhood. So while it might be easier to try to dismiss me as a caricature, it’s not reflective of reality. I’m not angry (unless I have to be), I don’t hate men (or I wouldn’t be here), I’ve never burned a bra (that’s a separate, complicated story).

          I believe in a simple idea — boys and girls should not be subject to strict social constructs of what is appropriate or inappropriate for their assigned gender. I certainly don’t let a mega-corporation tell my children what they can and can’t be when they grow up.

          Feminism is about choices – making them available to everyone, supporting people in their freely make choices.

          To blame your own arrogance on your DNA is a cop out. It’s an excuse to not take responsibility for your own behavior and to try to better yourself. This would be a perfect opportunity to pull yourself up by your own bootstraps.

      • Perfect!

        Yes, I know. My daughter donned crowns frequently despite my best efforts. I do believe eventually some of our against the stream-ness sinks in.

        And I realized I misunderstood part of your post. I thought you were at Disney. Sorry – my bad. I should never try to think before coffee.


        • I was unclear. She is just talking a lot of princess lately, especially since she was a flowergirl at a friend’s wedding.

        • Daycare, in my case, provides access to crowns and other princess-y apparel that my daughter would otherwise never see. My (almost) two year old has brothers aged 10 and 13, and therefore is quite familiar with footballs and trains. More often than not, when I arrive to pick her up from daycare, she’s sporting a tutu and a crown from the ‘dress up’ bin, while playing at the Thomas the Train table. Best of both worlds?

          • Just so. My daughter, living part of the year in New Orleans, has access to all kinds of dress-up material, the flotsam and jetsam of so many carnival costumes. Not to mention the culture of Mardi Gras itself, in which the imagery and relevance of queens and princesses is embedded. She is crazed about two things, presently: animals in general, and stuffed ones in particular, and princesses.

            The only thing keeping her from full-borne Disney obsession is her very real fear of the villains in the princess films. Ursula, or the Octopus Lady, in Mermaid. Or Susan Sarandon’s dragon in Enchanted. The villain raises up and my daughter freaks out.

            “Why the octopus lady so mean?” she asks repeatedly.

            My wife has given herself over to quoting “Talladega Nights”: “I guess she didn’t get enough love when she was younger.”

          • Absolutely the best of both worlds. I’m all about balance and think dress up and imagination is crucial. My theory is that you need to offer options. I’m fine with princess-gear, I just think kids need to learn that there’s more to life than that. In fact, in some ways I feel like it’s easier on girls – it’s way more acceptable for a girl to play at the Thomas table with a tutu than it is for a boy. (speaking in very general terms of course). But I think that if you offer it all and let a kid know it’s all acceptable, they will explore all avenues.

            My kids didn’t spend much time getting socialized before they turned three. I know that makes me a horrible mom, so you don’t need to tell me. When my daughter started preschool, I was astounded by the lengths people would go through to enforce princess culture. She was invited to a princess themed birthday party for a girl in her class turning 4. Not only did my girl have the shame of not having a princess costume, but we all went through culture shock at this party. The parents hired a makeup artist to teach these girls how to get all tarted up. My daughter came home with a full face of makeup, hairspray with sparkles, nail polish, and covered in perfume.

            So that’s what you get when you turn 4. What happens at age 5? And of course she thought she it was awesome and I was horrified.

            Speaking of princesses, have you all read Peggy Orenstein?

  • You are were talking about fairy tale princesses. Your 3 year old was likely referencing the history or TRUE monarchs. The Virgin Queen. Mary Queen of Scots. Even Cleopatra were not very nice to their enemies, subjects or dinner companions. You have a wise daughter. Enjoy the bumpy ride!

  • Here’s the topper from a similar exchange with my seven year-old daughter just last night.

    “Daddy, princesses make the rules, not follow them.”

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