Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Bippity, Boppity, Boo | The Real Stuff that Fairy Tales are Made of

When people ask me what my occupation is these days, I usually tell them I'm a stay-at-home mom...following which I get a wide range of reactions. Some say "Awww isn't that sweet" and then go back to ranting about their lives. Some sympathize with me and tell me more about my work-from-home options. While some go ahead and tell me how lucky I am to have that choice of not stressing myself too much, others think it a noble act worthy of the highest respect and acclaim.

Well, frankly, we all have notions about each other so I have no issues with people thinking I'm available all the time and that my life's boring. (And I could use the honor badge :)) And sure, as a kid, when I had to wake up early to go to school, I'd envy my mom for having the choice of going back to sleep when I left. (I really didn't think she'd have much to do after I left.)

And some of the assumptions are partly true. Here are some candid confessions about my new role (as it stands today):
  • The going hasn't got so tough yet and I do get time to nap every now and then (with my baby girl of course).
  • Yes, my life isn't all that exciting. In fact, most of my sources of entertainment come from Facebook snooping, common gossip and glossy soap operas. I used to be an avid reader but now I turn to the less mind-consuming forms of entertainment. (Cos they're bloody addictive!)
  •  I have no excuse to not exercise. I mean I do have some spare time but I procrastinate it or blame it on my "situation" because it just never seems so pressing. (Until I go shopping and realize how skinny other girl shoppers are and how I cannot pull off anything even remotely sexy.)
So there you go. But I am not going to delve into details about what I actually do and preach about how difficult but rewarding motherhood is. It is what it is.

Allow me to digress now.

I mostly hang out with 12-year old girls these days, who are smitten with my baby girl, Saanvi. We go for walks everyday and I imagine it to be a good time for me to have a quiet time with Saanvi, maybe meditatively watch the glistening leaves sway and listen to the birds cooing in the distance, and also chat up with other moms (read brag and whine). The girls, however, come swarming like a cloud of bees, in effect walking all over my private plans, and hound us, screaming at the top of their lungs, "I'm going to pick her up first!", "Me second!", "But I saw her first!"... Owing to this persistent intervention, I'm starting to appreciate the nature of the job of a referee in a wrestling rink. In their defense, they're better behaved now and their company is quite entertaining.

Here's an enlightening conversation I had with two of the girls the other day. Let's call them Jo and Dee.

Jo: So Aunty [Yes that's what I'm known as now], there's going to be a costume party during Ganpati Utsav and we've gotta start thinking about what we're going to dress Saanvi as.

Dee (jumping feverishly): Oh yes! So much fun. What do you think we'll make her, Aunty? [They go out of their way to rub it in.]

Me (mildly interested): How about a princess from a Disney movie. Cinderella, maybe?

Jo and Dee (in unison): No way!!! How pakau! [Translation: Lame]

Me (doing a double take after a real quick flashback to my Disney-enchanted childhood): Now why's that pakau? She'll make a pretty princess and Cinderella is still a hot-favorite I hope?

Jo: I hate Cinderella! She's so dumb!

Dee: Me too...Too blonde.

Me (saving that Stereotyping lecture for later): OK, maybe she wasn't too bright. But why do you hate her so much?

Jo (launches into a speech): You know the story na, Aunty. She was living with her super-mean stepmom and jealous sisters who didn't give a damn about her. She did all their stupid work for what? To get kicked around even more. No self-respect at all!

Dee: Yea, why couldn't she just run away from home and take up a job as a maid or maybe even become a designer or something? Since she could sew and all.

Jo: Or even model part-time. She was a hottie, right?

Me (nudging them more): Wow...You've really given this a thought. But think about it. If she were a maid somewhere, how would she find her Prince Charming?

Dee: Pleeeease! That Prince Charming marries her because she's pretty. And we have no way to know he's  a nice guy. Cos they don't tell you what happened after they got married.

Jo: Yea...All he really cared about was how pretty her foot was. [Giggles]

Baby Saanvi (taking this as a cue for interrupting our profound discussion and pointing to the swing): Baa...Baa.

And thus, after establishing that Cinderella was a total nincompoop and Prince Charming had a foot fetish, this interesting exchange ended cos the girls moved on to their more-appealing pursuit.

And it got me thinking. As a little girl, as most little girls, I did want to grow up to be one of those Disney princesses with the pretty dresses and fancy shoes, a charming, dreamy man who's head over heels in love with me, all set in an ethereal, magical world where pumpkins turn into limos and rags turn into Oscar De La Renta gowns. But does that really redeem it of the vapid foolishness portrayed in a Disney princess and the one message that is rammed into every little girl's head - why make any efforts to control your destiny when you can don a beautiful dress and simper your way into getting Prince Charming.

But then we all eventually grow out of the Disney Princess trap, either we realize the fallacy on our own or test the magical waters only to realize that believing in your dreams and sitting pretty on them doesn't really get you anywhere.

There's still time for Baby Saanvi to fall into the lure of flowing long locks and off-shoulder dresses and fairy Godmothers so I thought, just for kicks, let's examine three of the popular Disney Princesses and how messed up they are.

1. Cinderella:

Lives a shoddy, inconsequential life, slaving for her wicked stepmom and biaatches of stepsisters. She's utterly gutless, freakishly schizophrenic (with all the tiny mice friends), lacks useful imagination but can sew (even tiny micey clothes), cook and clean and sing. (All Disney princesses can sing, FYI.) Oh, and she's pretty. The only saving grace for her is that since she's "oh so gentle and kind", her fairy Godmother arrives just in time to pull her out of her miserable rut only to put her in another.

Little girls, just suck it up and do your cleaning and cooking and yes, practice balancing some hot trays of food. But when there's a royal ball, doll up - wear your hair extensions, a low cleavage, tight corset dress and your achingly beautiful glass slippers. Two minutes of small talk away from the Royal guards and of course, you'll land Prince Charming for life.

2. Princess Aurora (Sleeping Beauty):

A born Princess but blissfully unaware as her loving parents, in order to save her from an evil prophecy, thought it'd be much safer for her to be shunned in the woods with three fairies masquerading as clearly incompetent humans.(Awesome parenting that.) So she grows up to be a loner living in an imaginary world with her own version of Prince Charming singing and dancing around trees. From the story, we gather that she's cursed to sleep her way into getting her knight in shining armor  (No, I mean literally sleep).

Girlies, it pays to be lazy and absent-minded so get all your beauty sleep, dream sweet dreams of the life you could have if you were awake and stay pretty. And of course, it takes only a song sequence to fall in love and you don't even have to be awake to enjoy your first kiss.

3. Snow White:
The original Disney Princess - guess also the culprit behind the fair-skin obsession since the dawn of time. Now here's an exemplary princess who lives her life devoid of any brain activity and method. In fact she's so dumb that she could easily end up as a cameo in her own movie, was it not for the bounties of luck. She glides through her whole life in her blissful naivete - first she chances upon a cottage of seven little men and declares it an idyllic living arrangement for her to be cooking and cleaning their mess for them. Lucky for her, they're asexual (or gay). Next, she graciously accepts an apple from an evidently shady, vampish character. Of course, Lady Luck couldn't take it anymore and flees the scene to let her deal with her own shit. But then somehow, her Prince arrives, and yet again kisses her without her consent to save her. What the f*** dude? The good news is he's into her and she doesn't have to spend the rest of her life lounging in a glass coffin subjected to the ogling eyes of seven little men.

Ever heard your Mom and Dad saying, "Don't trust strangers.". Total myth, y'all. So play dumb, live on the wild side, make some obscenely ill-informed choices, and some day your Prince will come and make it all worth it.

Oh-kay. Got a little carried away there. But having said that, I'm not a feminist and I will not be paranoid about Saanvi adulating any of the Disney Princesses above or even having aspirations to marry Prince Charming. Aside from the fact that it would make me a hypocrite, I feel make-believe can be a powerful tool to inculcate positive messages in your little ones and maybe that's what I'm going to try and do. All the signs, so far, show that she's not into pretty princesses and more into bottles, action figures and cellphones. But maybe sooner or later, she'll ask me to read Cinderella to her...over and over again. And I'll be happy to oblige. After all, I like to think that most little girls are born with pixie dust and you can't take the Disney out of them.


  1. The new age princesses these days are clearly lady gaga, katy perry...also loving saanvi's take in your conversation "Baa Baa" LOL!!! your writing is hilarious, this one was by far the best..your version of snow white is just amazin..

  2. "The good news is he's into her and she doesn't have to spend the rest of her life lounging in a glass coffin subjected to the ogling eyes of seven little men." LOL!
    Good going! :-)