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.