Charlotte's Web

Blogging my world since 2006

Verily, And the Princess Begat Another …


Daisy (4) relates to princesses. Strongly. She also relates to fairies, ballerinas and mermaids, but princesses rule. In fact, they rock. In her own mind, she is a princess and we are her band of slaves, who are sometimes willing and sometimes recalcitrant in the extreme. When her slaves are not pulling their weight, then she is forced to scream loudly until we are cowed into behaving better.

Princesses, in her view, do not wear trousers. Not ever. Never, never, never. So when her Prime Slave appears before her in the morning, pulling on her forelock and shamefacedly proffering a pair of trousers to don for the day, Princess Daisy protests. Again, she naysays the offering. Then, if Prime Slave does not get the message, she may be forced to yell at her. Sometimes Prime Slave is butt-slappingly cheeky and suggests that Princess Daisy select her own morning garb if the offering is not good enough. Often the Princess and her Slave have a large and loud argument which can be heard in the neighbouring castle. Sometimes, Prime Slave wins the argument, and Princess Daisy dons the offending garment. However, if this is the case, she takes great pleasure in punishing her slave for the rest of the day. Usually, though, Princess Daisy wins and is allowed to walk out into the cold morning, proudly wearing a dress or a skirt.

Right now, while it is still autumn, the situation is bearable. But, as I keep pointing out to her, at some point in the not-distant future, it will be winter, it will be snowing and she will have to wear trousers. When I voice this calumny, she levels me a withering glance. She doesn’t even deign to argue. Princess Daisy knows best and everyone else is a bunch of blithering idiots. I don’t know where she gets this regal attitude from. I really don’t. Even in the face of clear evidence (today: knees knocking under her tights), she will not bend.

As I wrote those last two words, “not bend”, I thought, gosh, that’s it, she’s STUBBORN. I had never put the word to her before. My mother sometimes used to say to me, “You’re as stubborn as your father”, which, since they were getting divorced at the time, was not a compliment. I like to think of myself as a mild-mannered, pleasant person, open to reason and to persuasion. And I am. But there are two fatal words which bring out the Princess in me too. These are “you should”. They do literally send a frisson of ice-cold anger through me, my blood runs frigid, and I inadvertently think, “I should, should I? I’ll show you should, you should-monster. I will slay you and eat every single one of those shoulds you are flinging at me.” And watch me.

Also, I do recall being obsessed with dresses as a small child and suffering the bare naked shame of my mother arriving a kindergarten one winter morning bearing – oh horror of horrors – a pair of trousers for me to change into. Worse still, they had a PATCH! I was humiliated unto the the very depths of my being, and could not hold my head up high on the playground that day.

So having taken a look at myself, I suppose I need to be more tolerant of Princess Daisy. Her femininity is crucial to her and I need to recognise that. And probably, like me, her blood is enraged by hearing the words “you should”. From now on the mornings, as we dress and prepare her for kindergarten, I shall have to look for more subtle and more inventive ways to get her into trousers. I shall avoid any queeny proclamations, eschew servile crawling and aim for imaginative suggestiveness.

Author: charlotteotter

Novelist, feminist, crime writer

7 thoughts on “Verily, And the Princess Begat Another …

  1. My daughter is now 12 and while she doesn’t demand to wear dresses/skirts, she does get very attached to her clothes and when I point out that something has become too short or tight she refuses to acknowledge it. We’ve had the same fights that describe. I’ve winced to see her walk out the door in pants that are above her ankles and shirts that show her tummy. (She’s not yet old enough to want to wear these things in an attempt to be “sexy” or to show skin; she’s merely sentimentally attached to them and can’t bear to let them go.)

    I guess we have to hope for “natural consequences.” The knocking knees will teach your daughter that she can choose to dress warmly and be happier for it. Maybe some kid will tease my daughter about “highwater” pants and then she’ll refuse to wear outgrown clothes. I don’t know…

    This stuff is so draining, though, isn’t it?!?

  2. My youngest has the same regal bearing, frequently insisting on walking first wherever we’re going with me humbly following in her train. What do princesses wear when it’s cold, ermine floor length cloaks, perhaps? Long fur-lined boots and thermal underwear? I have memories of English winters in school uniform, skirts and long socks with garters and bare knees, the boys in flannel shorts and long socks. We survived it, so maybe you can just leave her to it until she decides it quite nice to be warm after all!

  3. I also used to refuse to wear trousers as a child but it was because I found trousers uncomfortable. I created some high scenes for my family until they gave up and let me wear dresses. I didn’t start wearing trousers until I got a pair of jeans at age 13. We lived in Shetland, which was freezing, but my mum used to put me in heavy dresses with thick tights underneath.

    Oh ho, I didn’t realise how annoying “you should” was until I got pregnant and was hearing it daily from complete strangers. More often it was “you shouldn’t” (be working/drinking tea/be avoiding meat/breathing/showing your face in public). What irritated when Kiko was born was that I heard from everyone: “He should be doing X by now, he should be doing Y,” and of course he wasn’t and it was so worrying. It was due to the “he should bes…” that I put him on solids at 5/6 months when he wasn’t ready until 9 months. Grrrrrrr! I wish I had been stubborn and said: “No! I’m listening to my instincts!” Sometimes being stubborn is a good thing.

  4. Charlotte, I am still laughing about the ‘should-monster’. I, too, react in a very princess-y way when I’m told what to do. It just presses that little red nuclear button. If someone asks me, it’s a different matter entirely. I just can’t bear to be TOLD.

  5. Diana, you’re right. This is just one manifestation of a clothes thing which is probably going to pervade our lives until Daisy’s paying her own mortgage. As I keep telling myself, it’s time to develop a sense of humour about it. Which is what you seem to be saying, Kit: just relax, and rely on her to make a sensible decision regarding cold legs. It sounds like Helen eventually did too!

    Helen, being pregnant and having a baby seems to bring out the should-monster in everyone around you, I know. I tried to potty-train TWO children too early because people were telling me I “should”. Cue lots of crying in, on and around toilets. I should have ignored them. Litlove, I also like to be asked but this is how much of a princess I am: I like to be asked NICELY.

  6. Charlotte — Queen of Everything
    Daisy — Princess of Quite A Lot

  7. Pingback: The Sky is Purple « Charlotte’s Web

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