There she stood, Cinderella. Her hair was uncombed; it looped and spiraled in a messy part around her face. Her face bore as its only makeup an orange juice mustache and a faint sheen of dried snot from a runny nose. Her princess dress was falling off her shoulders, worn on top of pink, fleece snowman jammies. I stood at the opposite end of the hallway—an unlikely Prince stand-in.
But when she daintily lifted the hem of her gown and smiled as she came to meet her prince at the ball, waving hello to imaginary friends, no less, no beauty queen could match her. The glow in my daughter’s face spoke of the perfect fairy tale she had crafted for herself. We danced in her “ball”room. Then she took my hand and told me, “Now we’re going to dance on the balcony.” It turned out the balcony was located in the kitchen. Who knew?
It broke my heart a little bit to send Cinderella off to get dressed for school. Nothing so normal and boring as school should happen to Cinderella. But off she went and once her purple jeans and pink shirt were on, the ball gown went on top. Thankfully, the ball gown did not go to school with her.
Especially now that we have two, I find myself spending a lot of time running around and relying on H to amuse herself. Little J can’t do much on his own, but she can. It’s a huge help to know that I can set her up with a snack or some play dough and have time uninterrupted to feed and cuddle J.
On the flip side of that coin, more and more she’s asking me, “Mommy, can we play?” And I have to remind myself that it’s more important to take 10 minutes and play with her now than to tidy up. Soon she’s going to grow up. Cinderella will stop being her favorite princess. She’ll stop inviting Dorie (from Finding Nemo) to come play at our house. And at some point, she’ll stop asking me to play.
Until that devastating moment, I’m going to try to make sure that she knows I think she’s fascinating. The worlds and worlds she creates in her mind are endless. The names she comes up with for imaginary friends and baby dolls are unpronounceable. And her delight when you buy into the whole thing and go on that ride with her is infinite.
So despite a tight before-school schedule and the ticking baby-time-bomb asleep in the next room, I was so glad that H asked me to be her prince this morning. I know that I’ll always remember what a stunning pajama princess she is, and I hope that she remembers that Mom had time for her and danced with her on the balcony.