One of my best friends in the world is a 4 year old girl whom I lovingly call, “Bad Gal Riri,” because, obviously, she reminds me of a tiny Rihanna. She is currently in the foster care system, so for privacy purposes, I am not going to use her actual name in this article; instead, I’ll just refer to her as Bad Gal Riri the whole time. Now, Bad Gal Riri is entering the point in her childhood where she is figuring out that, yes, she DOES want to be a princess when she grows up. It’s the phase of childhood as a little girl that I revisit the most in my head. The dresses and costume heels with plastic jewelry. The, “You be Belle and I’ll be Snow White.” It is all full of magic and happily ever after; it is wonderful in every sense of the word.
Well, the other day, after watching Beauty and the Beast for the second time in a row, Bad Gal Riri screamed and danced and jumped all over the couch and kitchen shouting, “THEY’RE GETTING MARRIED! LOOK, THEY KISSED, THEY’RE GETTING MARRIED!!!” And I froze for a second because this excitement is so pure and so freaking cute, but also it’s the beginning of her life interpreting romantic love. I felt this melancholy feeling because this is what my childhood was made of: the hope, the excitement, the untouched vision of life and love and happiness, but it is so incredibly out of touch with what we learn to be reality later on. I know I might sound like an absolute buzz-kill pessimist, but I’m totally not; I LOVE romantic love!! And I held onto my wishful thinking far longer than I’d like to admit, in fact it might have never gotten out of my system at all, but life doesn’t fall into place the way it does in fairytales. I still have a huge-as-shit place in my heart for the princess story with prince charming and the kiss and all that but when middle school hits and the only non-cruel thing a boy says to you is, “WOAH, do you stuff your bra????” Shit starts to hit the fan. (At this point I am feeling a bit of irony because I just realized I am sitting on a blanket that I own as a 20 year old with the faces of Belle, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty on it. I’ll attach a photo below. *eyeroll*)
I guess I just got a little worried, in that moment, that her heart might break a little each time something happens that throws her off the fairytale path. I only worry because I can still relate to that OMG feeling from the perfect kiss and romantic ending that followed.
My first experience with what I interpreted to be romantic love was in kindergarten. I would get so frustrated with myself because when we would practice writing with pencils as a class, I could never fully erase my mistakes. I couldn’t stand that there was still a faint little grey mark there after I, very firmly, erased it away. Well, a young boy named Nick who sat next to me could erase the shit out of any pencil mark. I was absolutely awestruck, but of course had to plan out when I would make my first move. I walked up to him on the playground, and I will never forget this, I gasped and said, “Do your shoes say your name on them?!?!?” I’m sure I had actual hearts in my eyes too, I was in full swoon mode and I thought he was for sure going to be my boyfriend. But no, he just looked down and said, “Uhh no, I think…I think that says Nike.” Oh. So not only did my first ever flirting attempt fail, but now I look dumb too. Thankfully I had multiple exercises in failed flirting after that to soften the blow when I really got my heart invested.
I guess I just hope Bad Gal Riri still knows she’s a princess even if a few of her princes don’t turn out to be the marrying type right away. Or maybe she will want to marry a fellow princess!! Let’s not forget that fairytale ending! And the first time she fails a test, or breaks her arm, or loses a friend, or any number of other tragedies happen, I hope she knows that her life and her heart are already far more impressive than any fairytale. Life isn’t as pure or as perfect as these stories, but it has all the workings to be so much better if we stop restricting our view the way these princess endings do. I love you, Bad Gal Riri, more than Ariel loves Prince Eric.
OK, here’s the blanket.