Recently I took my five-year-old daughter to see Rogers and Hammerstein’s musical version of Cinderella. Like my daughter has heard in a hundred movies and fairy tales, the musical ends as you’d expect, with Cinderella marrying the handsome prince. The show received a standing ovation. Everyone loves seeing Cinderella get the happily ever after of her dreams. But in the real world, for a lot of women a “happy ending” does not involve getting married.
That includes my five-year-old daughter, who recently informed me that she doesn’t want to get married…she wants “to be left alone.”
She shut down a little boy in her Pre-K class, who followed her for six months and called her his “girlfriend.” When he gave her a drawing he did for her, she vociferously rejected it and had a meltdown. For this, she received a time-out at school, but in her mind it was worth it: she was fighting for her right to be an independent woman. Leilani now insists that she and the boy are “just friends.”
The boy moved on, making plans to marry another girl in the class. My daughter is quite dismissive of these plans, saying that she thinks marriage is “gross.” She plans to have three kids without a husband, and she plans on “adopting” a nearby mansion, which she asked me to purchase with money I recently withdrew from the ATM. She has informed me that I will be allowed to visit but not live with her.
Leilani doesn’t like to play a run-of-the-mill game of princesses. She prefers to play spy girls and ninja princesses who have a seemingly endless supply of secret gadgets. She’s writing a blog on a laptop made out of wooden blocks and telling stories around a campfire made of Legos. She’s pretending to be the the principal at “school,” where she thoroughly enjoys having her misbehaving stuffed animals sent to her “office” to be disciplined. In other words, she loves playing anything where she gets to be in charge.
My daughter, at the ripe age of five, is busy defining herself as an individual, dreading a future of being measured by a milestone that society imposes. To me, that is really brave and cool.
She is creating her own version of happily ever after, and to me, it’s a mom’s fairy tale dream come true.