This weekend, my baby, Ans, was getting her 4th tooth – meaning little-to-no sleep for Mama Jells. I’m still running on empty and it’s challenging to be engaged with one, much less with both kids, when everything seems fuzzy and would all be much better when my eyes are closed. My toddler, EB, has recently become infatuated with princesses. I was a little worried about how this whole princess thing would work out – I’m not thrilled about my daughters following the example of an entitled woman, with no real ambition, relying on her beauty, lazing about while others do things for her. But EB turned this archetype on its head by building castles out of blocks and bequeathing the crown…to ME! Let’s forget everything I said criticizing princesses, shall we?
While Ans napped sporadically and I had housework to catch up on, Eebs relegated me to my bedroom. Normally, she’s tugging at my skirt, grabbing my braid, or generally clambering for my attention. To be given permission, by my child, to have some alone time to TCOB while still playing pretend? Brills.
While I folded laundry in peace (I should have been blogging, since it turned into such an extended block of mostly-uninterrupted time), she built the aforementioned castles, playing quietly without the TV on. And it was all her idea. Not once did she ask me to turn on Yo Gabba Gabba or Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. The role playing turned into “Princess goes to school and likes it,” because EB needed to work out how she felt about me leaving her at Montessori in the morning. I told her I was nervous about staying, and she said, “Don’t worry, Princess, I’ll be back after snack. Here’s an anaconda squeeze and a kiss. Now stay in your class while I build your castles.” Periodically she would check on me (or scold me for putting up piles of clothes in their rightful drawers, or for putting a new load in the washer, telling me to go back to class until it was time to go home). Each time she came in, she told me I was being good, and brought me something for my cubby, like the royal lunchbox or her pink backpack. I could hear her whispering to her dolls or playing with Ans after she got up from nap in their room on the other side of the bathroom. Even Ans was into the idea of being the royal architects and edit the castles by knocking them down when her big sister wasn’t looking.
I’ve had trouble encouraging EB to play independently since Ans came along. I’ve gotten reliant on TV to give me a chance to make everyone’s breakfast or let me take the rare solo shower, full well knowing it becomes a vicious cycle. The more TV they get, the more they want, forgoing make believe for scripted learning shows. Hey, they’re better than Spongebob Squarepants, but not better than growing her independence. All it took was for me to give in and pretend.