The Jibbers wants to be a princess…

My son, the Jibbers, is three-and-a-half and, as is the nature of three-year-olds, he likes to dress up and pretend he is something or someone else.  Every morning when we wake up the family is assigned an animal and the following dialogue ensues:

Jibbers: Today, Mama, we are chinchillas. [That’s my cue.]

Me: Good Morning, Baby Chinchilla, assalaamu alaykum!

Jibbers: Good Morning, Mama Chinchilla! Where is Papa Chinchilla?

Me: Oh, Papa Chinchilla went to work.

And so on. Feel free to insert any animal or critter; I particularly did not like being Mama Cockroach. Still makes my skin crawl! Ew!

Up, up and away into a world of possibility and imagination blossoming with creativity and fun.

So when the Jibbers comes running to me and says he wants to be a princess – yes, I got him a tiara which I called a crown – or a king, or an astronaut, or a  train driver – not train engineer: “I just want to drive the train; I just a kid.” – or a superhero, or a firefighter or a robot, or any of a number of things he tells me on a daily basis, then I try to facilitate that for him. If being a fireman means he needs a hose, we try to make one. If being an astronaut means he needs “an apparatus” for breathing, we get a small box. I see it as part of his play-based learning and recognize that he needs his imagination and creativity to navigate the realities of this world. All children do.

When children pretend, they’re using their imaginations to move beyond the bounds of reality. A stick can be a magic wand. A sock can be a puppet. A small child can be a superhero.

Fred Rogers

Thank you, Mr Rogers for helping us see what children innately understand.

Play gives children a chance to practice what they are learning.

Fred Rogers

As of late, I have seen this video circulating on facebook:

‘Princess’ is not a career.

I was concerned. I know ‘princess’ is not a career, but why is it important for Sesame Street to let preschoolers know about it so adamantly. Yes, we’d like our children to be successful and have careers with growth potential, but are we missing something important here when we tell children, “No you can’t be a ‘princess’ because that is not a career.” Well, at three years old or four or five, do they really  need to know what a career is?

When this video was posted on a friend’s facebook page, one mother, in particular, got what I was feeling:

“…the Princess stage can be used to ones benefit. That’s a lot more to being a Princess (or super hero…) then the tiaras (masks) and jewels (weapons). It’s a great platform to teach the kids community responsibility, self responsibility & discipline, decorum, and to encourage their imagination. It’s how you as the adult approach the situation.”

I sincerely believe that that is the purpose of play: for children to learn about the real world in a way and at a pace that is suitable for them. And really, how long are children in this blessed realm for? Six, seven, maybe till eight years old? In an age where our children are being forced to ‘grow up’ at such an alarming rate, sometimes it’s nice to keep things simple and let the children play.

THE FLIP SIDE: I asked my husband, and a friend of mine about this video and what their thoughts were. My friend is a former vice principal of a private school and has a four-year-old daughter. Her daughter has not been exposed to any “princess” movies for a very specific reason: “I don’t want my daughter to live in a world of fantasy, where some prince charming is going to save her.” I believe this sentiment is shared by many parents of daughters, especially when we want to empower our daughters. I was also told there may be issues of entitlement at play (no pun intended) and parents don’t want their daughters to be exposed to that culture. I agree with both points, but I don’t think I agree with the approach of negating imaginary play, or an aspect of it, as the way to get the point across. And finally, this from one of the comments in the original video post:

I just showed this to my four year old daughter.
Me: So what career do you want to have?
Her: A judge.
Me: Yay! (high fives)
Her: Well, actually, Mommy, I want to be a princess.
Me: But they just talked about how being a princess isn’t a career.
Her: It’s okay, Mommy. I’ll be a princess and a judge and a pirate.

Hmm….

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~ by Omaira on November 13, 2012.

One Response to “The Jibbers wants to be a princess…”

  1. Thank you for stopping by!

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