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Parental Tourism in the Princess Aisle

My husband’s brother came to visit us this past week, along with his wife and their three-year-old daughter. Whom we actually haven’t seen outside of a webcam chat since she was a baby. And now: SUDDENLY. Little girl, big personality, downright creepy family resemblence.

Basically, take Ezra, tweak his features to be a bit more feminine, then add some ringlets and a penchant for princess dresses, and…that’s it. That’s my niece. Our collective pack of skinny blondish children (who liked to walk everywhere hand-in-hand, AH MY GAH I WANT TO EAT THEM) looked more like a group of siblings than cousins.

And I suddenly found myself thinking a lot — and I mean A LOT — about what it would’ve been like to have a daughter. More than the occasional clothing envy I mentioned, but really. She sat on my lap while we watched Tangled, and she brought me the Rapunzel doll we’d given her and I helped her comb and braid its hair and was happy to see I was still pretty good at it. I oohed and ahhed appreciatively over her sparkly shoes and tutus. The pink plates and utensils from our multi-color packs were a big hit. I couldn’t get over how good she smelled, because despite bathing my children with the same soap at the same time, they went back to smelling like sweaty, salty boys five minutes later.

Sure, we wrestled and tickled and ran around playgrounds and suffered one TREMENDOUS bonk on the head from jumping on the couch, and poor Rapunzel spent most of the weekend naked and getting dragged around by her scalp, but there was definitely no denying that yeah, it was really different having a little girl around the house.

And I liked it. I liked it a lot. She and I both cried a little when it was time for them to go and hugged each other tight. I made a mental note to bring my Strawberry Shortcakes and My Little Ponies from my mom’s attic before she visited again, because ZOMG, how much fun would we have!!1!

The Strawberry Shortcakes and My Little Ponies that, of course, I saved from childhood in case I had a daughter. Which I didn’t. Don’t. And very much likely won’t. Because I have three children, three boys. And I do not want four.

Still. It was interesting to get a glimpse of life with the other kind of kid, especially one who — okay — REALLY reminded me of myself as a kid. Probably more than my own children, who oftentimes seem like a foreign species I am still attempting to write a field guide about.

I know I should end this with some waxy rhapsody about mothering boys, and how rewarding it is and special and amazing and OF COURSE that is all true. And I’ve always prided myself on the fact that we have baby dolls and toy strollers and kitchens and dollhouses and princess movies and the pink plates and utensils are there for anybody who wants them.

They never want them, though. They like the blue or yellow ones. The toy stroller doubles as a bumper car and they have zero interest in combing doll hair and prefer sword fighting to dress-up.  That’s fine. Whatever makes them happy.

But for the record, boys? I would also be happy to play My Little Ponies with you. Anytime. Just let me know. I gots mad French braiding skillz, even after all these years.

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