By far, Allyson's favorite Christmas treasure is her princess trunk full of pink, yellow, and blue princess dress-up clothes. There are tiny "ball gowns" with lace, ruffles, and sequins. There are crowns, clip-on earrings, and clunky high-heeled clogs. There's even a tiny blue purse to hold the jewelry.
I love to see Allyson prance around proudly in her finery. She absolutely BECOMES "Cinderlella" when she dons one of those costumes. It doesn't matter that you can plainly see her blue jeans or pajamas sticking out the bottom of the skirt, or her turtleneck peeking out the top of the bodice. It doesn't matter that her hair is wild and tangled.
"Look at me, Mama!" she crows.
The funny thing is, even before her grandmothers bought her the princess paraphernalia at Christmas, she was already playing princess. Her babysitter's daughter Lucy, age three, has an impressive wardrobe of princess gowns, and they entertain themselves endlessly with them.
A few weeks before Christmas, I was sitting on Allyson's floor while she picked out her big girl panties for the day. Suddenly, she shrieked with joy as she spotted her beloved princess panties, handed down from her Canadian cousin, Katie. They are rather worn, but she loves them because they have all the Disney princesses on them--Belle, Aurora, Cinderella, and Ariel--and also because they belonged to Katie.
I was surprised when she draped the panties over her head. "It's a crown!" she said. She grabbed a baby bath towel from the shelf and wrapped it around her shoulders. Clutching her royal robe with one hand and securing her crown with the other, she spun in slow circles. "I'm a princess!" she exulted.
I murmured admiring words as I fought to suppress my laughter. "Yes, you are such a beautiful princess," I agreed.
"You be a princess, too, Mommy!" Allyson urged. She handed me a pair of Little Mermaid panties.
I hesitated for a moment and then set them atop my head. I grabbed a baby blanket and carefully arranged it over my shoulders, keeping my chin high to keep the pantie crown steady. I held the blanket with one hand and flourished regally with the other as we spun in tight circles.
After a few rotations, we collapsed in a giggling, breathless heap. I'd never dreamed you could have so much fun with a pair of panties and a bath towel--with your little princess by your side.
I envy Allyson's unconstrained imagination, and her conviction that she is both beautiful and special. I hope she never loses that certainty.