April 19, 2010
It appears I may have over reacted again and made serious something that was better left innocent. Your fourth birthday is coming up, and your mother and I are starting to plan your party. We went and booked a local pizza place here in Doha, and then asked you what kind of theme you would want for the party. First you said Hello Kitty, because we happened to be walking by a Hello Kitty stand, but later when we showed you some other ideas you went straight for the Disney Princess theme.
For some reason, that doesn’t seem as important right now, a mere twelve hours later, I was upset. I guess I see the princesses as a collective symbol of several things I do not like or admire. What those values are, are not important right now. I just wanted to write and explain why I react this way.
First and foremost, I do these things because I love you beyond belief. I do these things because I don’t trust society. I do these things because I want you to be free from the trappings that we accept as cultural norms. I do these things because I am afraid. I do these things because I want you to be aware.
I am writing now however to apologize and confess. After speaking with friends, many people made it clear that not only should I let your infatuation with these empty starlets pass, but many made the point that perhaps by being so upset and trying to influence your tastes, I am doing exactly what I abhor- forcing my ideas onto you. This has never been my intention. But I am left wondering, when is sharing values, ideals, and ideas with your child good parenting, and when is it obtrusive brainwashing?
It is hard work this parenting thing. How do we know for example when we are acting as a moral pillar and when we are the hammer? When is our influence helpful guidance, and when is it soul crushing dogma?
These are tough decisions we must make. Since before you were born, all I have wanted for you is for you to be a creative, independent, kind woman. An open thinker who questions everything, follows noone, and seeks out adventure. Thinking about it now, I sound like I want you to be me, or better stated, the me I want to be. Is that what we do as parents? Try to recreate ourselves in our children? Is this okay? Is this evolution?
I honestly do not know. I just feel that every choice we make for you at this time, because you are too young to make your own, will shape and determine who you will become. Every choice seems to be critical.
My friends say that I should relax and simply lead by example, and they are most likely right. I am not sure how old you will be when you read this, but I hope that it explains many of the arguments we are most likely to have had as you grew up. I hope that it sheds light on why I felt it was so important that we never take anything for granted and that we always challenge what other people deem as normal.
I hope that you understand that if we want to recreate our society, and if we want to help reshape what we find unacceptable than we must always stay true to our ideals.
I just wanted to unload some thoughts here, because honestly, I feel badly about how upset I was by this simple choice you made when you were four! I hope you have an amazing birthday, and I will do everything I can to make it special. I will try not to make judgments or unnecessarily force you to carry my dissatisfactions. If you want to be a princess, then a princess you shall be.
Finding my inner princess,
Friends, family, readers of this blog, please feel free to leave any advice.