How To Tame a Princess—Or Not

My daughter wants to be a princess, but she acts like Margaret Thatcher. I don’t know which is worse.

Sure, there’s broken wands and the Cinderella dresses on the floor, but the girl can filibuster like you wouldn’t believe. You should hear her go on for hours about why her cousin can’t be Snow White.

“Josie has yellow hair and Snow White has black hair.  Josie wears swimming suits and Snow White wears dresses. Josie won’t eat a poisonous apple . . . .”


This morning my princess told me I was lazy, and I needed to make her some breakfast.

At dinner she told her older brother to quit touching her balloon.

And before bed she asked me how the Falkland Islands were holding up.

Even as a baby, she was telling me what to do.

Even as a baby, she was telling me what to do.

It’s not fair. I was the oldest of eight children and a good babysitter. I got the grime out underneath the bathroom faucets and vacuumed all the corners of the closets. I was actually the perfect Cinderella before the prince showed up. So how did I get a girl who’s ready to rule a country?

I asked my husband what I had done to deserve this. I asked him if she was just a force of nature or if I had created this Iron Lady.

“Uh—both,” he said.

“What?!” I asked.

“Well,” he said, kind of carefully, “It’s probably 80% nature and 20% you.”

“But I put her in time out at least one a day!” He wisely said nothing.

So maybe I’m a small part of the problem. Maybe I buy her too many clothes and give her hugs and kisses and tell her how brilliant she is all the time, but then you really can’t blame me. The girl is adorable in a tiara.

Still, I’m rethinking everything after watching Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park. Little Fanny Price was the heroine of Austen’s novel. Little Fanny Price gets scolded and doesn’t talk back. Fanny never has an opinion. Fanny is quiet at the dinner table. Never mind that Fanny was created in 1813.

Fanny would never turn her nose at my taco salad and say an hour later, “I’m hungry! Get me my food now!”

Fanny would never stomp her feet if I mumbled, “Oh, go get a carrot.”

Fanny would never complain that Downton Abbey was too boring and that she needed some Phineas and Ferb.

I’m thinking about starting a Fanny Price obedience school for children, and I’m sure we’ll be all full by next weekend. I don’t know if I’m up to whipping a bunch of princesses into shape, but I know a four-year-old girl who certainly is.



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