Princess or Warrior?

Brace yourself for a ramble.

So last night, my darling two year old, MonkeyPants, decided to dive-bomb me from the pass through behind the couch and nailed me between the ribs with her knee, causing me a world of hurt.  This is something that she does often.  Her favorite thing is when I’m folding laundry on the bed.  She’ll come up behind me and dive over my shoulder, and I have to catch her with one hand or she’ll do a full roll and sometimes tumble off the bed. Of course she has to plant it JUST RIGHT or I also get a knee in the back of the head.  Now, I’m not complaining.  I can take a good beating and still keep a smile on my face, and I have to say that one thing I love the MOST about MonkeyPants is that she is WILD.  I love having a wild daughter.  I love wondering what she’ll come up with next and seeing her control of her body grow.  It’s incredible, because at two she can lay out her 7 year old brother flat and get him in an arm bar, and she’ll tousle with the dogs and cats and pretty much everything.  She once saw a video of Steve Irwin wrestling a crocodile and, with awe in her voice, pointed and said, “I DO THAT.”

I wouldn’t be surprised if some day she did.

And then this morning she picks out the FRILLIEST, PINKEST, most bedecked in bows and layers of ruffles, most princessy dress she owns and wanted me to do her hair with a pouffed up hair piece.  And I did it all, chuckling to myself because here’s the girl who quite possibly dislocated one of my ribs in a Tarzan-like performance last night wanting to be the perfect little princess, probably so she could sit on the dogs and yell at them in style.

But I have to wonder, why should these things not belong together perfectly?  Why can’t a girl be a crocodile hunter in a pink frilly frock?  (Of course there is the maneuverability problem.)  But honestly, why is it that these days there are so many anti-princess sites telling people not to tie their kids down to the princess ideal?  I get that you don’t want to force being a princess on a child, or portray it as the only or best option, but why is it that these days it seems like being a princess is the enemy?

If the goal is to let our children determine who they want to be without restriction, being a frilly pink crocodile-wrestling mountain exploring zoologist should be on the table.

Princesses don’t have to be helpless, simpering idiots.

After all, Leia was a princess and she was a better shot than Han or Luke!

Okay, okay, so I get that by and large in the Disney-style mainstream princess culture, pretty girls are helpless prisoners of their beauty, like Snow White, who have to be saved by someone else.  All they are good for is keeping things pretty.  But do we really want to send the message to our girls that being beautiful is the enemy?  That by seeking beauty you are limiting yourself?  That you should hate pink dresses and all they represent?

Someone else decided that pink and frilly meant demure and in need of masculine aid.  I want MonkeyPants to decide for herself what it means, and God help anyone who sees her in a pink dress and decides she’s delicate.  By Heaven, she will rain down punishment on them from above and get them in an arm bar and force them to admit that being feminine does not mean being weak.

And I love that about her.

I love her in a pink dress sitting on her brother’s shoulders and telling him he’s being Batman wrong.

There’s always been this debate about Xena the Warrior Princess and whether or not she’s a decent feminist role model because of the iron bikini.

I mean, screw that.

By choosing to be beautiful women are not objectifying themselves.  Beauty, delicateness, comfort, submission, providing for others, selflessness, none of these are qualities that we should desire to beat out of our daughters.  Princess or warrior is a false choice.

No woman is an object as long as she never allows herself to be made silent and stationary.

And putting a dress on MonkeyPants certainly doesn’t shut her up!

rabbit trails

While working in Children’s church I had this interesting experience.  While talking about something completely different, one of the kids brought up the subject of Satan.  “Well,” this child asked, “if God CAN vanquish Satan and the book of Revelation predicts that he WILL, why wait?”

Before that subject could even be responded to, another child asked about Hell, and then another one accused the second of having said a bad word, and then the whole situation devolved into a lot of shouted questions and the kids looking distressed in general.  Distressed, I say, but a few looked downright panicky.  That’s when it hit me.

Beneath the happy-go-lucky veneer that had been showing all Sunday morning, not even very far beneath the surface, these kids were worried.  They were struggling.  They couldn’t understand their faith.  And they were afraid. They had been told to Evangelize to their friends because if their friends died they may go to hell and be separated from them for eternity.  They had been told to be wary of the temptations of the Enemy.  They had been told a lot of things, and while they were very quick with the questions they were also obviously very uncomfortable with the fact that they wanted to ask them.

Afraid.

It broke my heart.  I wish that rather than being an observer I’d been their teacher, because while the youth minister did a great job of fielding the questions and getting the lesson back on track, I nearly felt as if the lesson for the day should’ve been trashed and those nagging questions just dealt with.  Not that I could’ve provided adequate answers, but I could’ve reassured them of what we know to be true.

We don’t need to be afraid.

We need to obey God not out of fear of consequences, but out of love.  And if we are obeying God and in his hands, the future should hold no fear for us.  We don’t need to fear Satan or eternity.  We should talk to our friends about our faith not because we are afraid of them burning in Hell, but because we’ve experienced the love of God in our lives and we want everyone to share in that joy.  I wanted to ask them if they had ever experienced God’s love, searched after it, heard their parents talk about it in their own lives.

For one very breathless moment I wanted to turn that place upside down.

The church is supposed to be a haven from fear, not a place where young ones learn it.