Thursday, May 07, 2009

Who's your favorite princess?

nails it

When Q told us that she wanted a princess birthday party, we were of two minds. We want to make her happy, of course, and pretty much every store everywhere makes something princess related, making it pretty easy to pull off. On the other hand, we're not huge fans of the main princess narratives, which usually have to do with some preternaturally beautiful girl giving up a central part of herself for some guy (see Ariel) or waiting for some guy to come rescue them (see pretty much the rest of the Disney Royalty).

We're also not sure where her princess fascination comes from. My lovely wife embodies the strong, contemporary woman — much more Queen Rania than Sleeping Beauty on the monarchy scale. My wife rarely wears dresses (or color, for that matter), is always beautiful but not girly. But we suppose princess is in the air around all little girls and is therefore unavoidable — at least until she grows up into an atmosphere with less pink. Anyway, we have no doubt that it will make her happy, and since that's our ultimate goal, we go with it.

As usual, my wife has been thinking about/researching this for a long time. Our party ideas tend to start with the cake and then expand outward, and my wife has decided to make a jewelry-box confection, complete with a lid and separate compartments filled with candy bracelets and ring pops. She made some even more amazing sweet sushi appetizers out of rice crispy treats, Swedish Fish candy, and fruit roll ups:

sweet sushi

As for activities, we borrow fancy dresses for dressing up from good friends next door — though it turns out that each girl has and brings her own ensemble. For Q, my wife scoured the Easter Dress sales and found a rather beautiful cream number with soft flowers and a silk, pink ribbon on the waist, which Q inhabits with grace. My wife also had the idea of cutting out paper dolls, affixing them to sticks, and adding a photo of each girl so that she could dress herself up in a gown she colored herself.

Princesses on a Stick

As you might expect, these were definitely a hit with parents and kids alike. My lovely wife again does a great job of making the party our own. (You better thank your mother, Q.)

The party itself is small. In asking who she wants to celebrate with, we settle on ten girls. And it will be only girls — The Boy and his friend are somewhat invited, though they willingly exclude themselves from the dressing up and general prettification. Unfortunately, two girls had to cancel at the last minute — two that Q definitely looks up to — because of illness.* The eight girls get their hair pulled up and done, and suddenly, their faces so revealed, I can see more clearly than I have in a while our friends re-mixed and re-made in their children. Then the girls get glittered nails and generally just move around the room on clickety heels. Because summer seems to have arrived, it's nearly 90 degrees in fact, we go outside to the full park for some sun and photos. The girls draw all sorts of looks and cameras from people lolling on the grass, particularly when they decide to take a stroll (best way to describe it) along the path that rings the lawn in back.

After just a little while, Q abandons her plastic shoes to race down the hill in her bare feet and smiles.

Princess Q

Myself, I like princesses when they run.

Then it's back inside for pizza and for cake. While they eat, a good friend of ours asks everyone in turn who her favorite princess is. We hear all the regulars — Cinderella, Ariel, Snow White, etc. When it comes to me, I say "Princess Q, of course," and I mean it.

We always forget more than we remember. But for her much of her remembering starts about now, a long ribbon of being unrolling out behind her that she makes and that makes her. The person** who savors her cake now is the same as the one who yesterday fashioned a contraption out of a jump rope and fruit bowl, and she will be the same as the one who tonight will link hands behind her mom's neck, asking for just a little more time before she must call it sleep.

As she grows and goes, I will hold that ribbon, use it to make a gift of everything.

Happy Birthday, Q. We love you.

*Not swine flu related, if you must know.