Serena: MOMMY! PLAY WITH ME! (grabs hold of my legs and drags me with all her tiny might toward a playmat covered with little plastic princess figurines)
Serena: Me Beauty. You Snow White.
I take the doll she hands me. My doll walks around the playmat a little, exploring the castle and the pretty woods and the…I shit you not…gazebo. That’s all there is in this world. Clear trails, pretty uncomplicated woods, a smooth blue river with a picturesque bridge, and a bright pink castle.
My dolly is about to die of boredom when she meets Serena’s toy Beauty.
Serena, speaking on behalf of Sleeping Beauty: Hello! Me Beauty.
Serena: Say Hi! Mommy.
Me, animating Snow White: Hello, I’m Snow White.
Beauty: Hi! Me Beauty.
Snow White: What are you doing?
Snow White: Standing?
Serena demonstrates that the doll is, in fact, standing still.
Snow White: Let’s go for a walk.
Beauty: Me Beauty. Me have pretty dress.
Snow White: Let’s go fight a dragon.
Beauty: Me standing.
Snow White walks away. Feminist Mom dies a little inside.
Happily for me, Rio has recently become obsessed with some awful Barbie movie version of the Three Musketeers. I haven’t seen the movie (she watches it at a friend’s house), but I get the impression from her that it is about the daughters of the classic Musketeers. These girls dress up in fancy dresses and go to a masquerade ball together.
Whatever. Rio’s fixation on being a Musketeer has led her to:
- write and do math to make plans for sewing musketeer dresses
- draw pictures of “musketeers”
- rehearse a “musketeer show” with her friends. at length. for days.
- insist on having the original Three Musketeers read aloud to her as a bedtime story.
- carry a sword in her pretend games, and shout “I have the power to kill anything that hurts me!” a lot.
I’m sure the Barbie Musketeers are vapid skinny white chicks with no character development or agency, but at least they’re armed. Also, all that creative play beats the pants off standing around changing your party dress all day. Hopefully by the time she’s five, Serena will have thought of something interesting to do with her dolls too.