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H: Why are the knight and princess in the same picture?
K: Because of the dragon, the knights coming to save her from the dragon.
H: Why can’t she save herself?
K: Because the knight’s strong.
H: Well, the princess is strong too.
K: No hers not.
H: Hey. Look at me. Princesses are strong. Princesses are girls. We’re strong. K?
K: OK mommy.
For the record, I am not trying to destroy the traditional fairy tale.  I know I am raising a romantic with my first born; this fact is as clear as the dress up clothes she wears and the dramatic play she engages in with her sister.  I know that she will always relish the princess stories where the shining knight saves the damsel in distress just in time for everything to end happily ever after.  I know that she will find renewed hope time after time whenever she watches her favorite fairy tale and all over again when she acts it out.  I won’t even laugh when she sings at the top of her lungs believing in her heart that the animals in the forest will run to her to play and be friends much like her mother believed…and did.  I know she is her mother’s child, and I know that she will always look for her happily ever after, and I pray that she will find that knight who will live up to the most unrealistic expectations that Disney teaches us before we can say “Once upon a time”.
At the same time, I do want her to learn new fairy tales.  Fairy tales that I never explored because they didn’t match the princess and prince versions I had memorized inside and out.  I want her to realize that sometimes a girl can flex her own muscles and get the job done.  I want her to realize that sometimes she can look beside her to grab the helping hand of her sister.  I want her to understand that a friendship can be stronger and deeper than any romance.  I want her to know that Hollywood and Disney and social media and Facebook and favorite TV shows and airbrushed magazine covers are only going to give you what you think you see.
I want her to search deeper to find truer examples of what it means to be rescued.  I want her to know that being rescued isn’t a job that someone is hired to complete, because true rescue starts within.
I want her to search deeper to find truer examples of what it means to rely on someone and that someone doesn’t have to be a lover.  That someone can be a friend when she is crying uncontrollably.  That someone can be a parent who knows her next thought before it’s even entered her mind.  That someone can be a brother who might joke too much but would drop it all in order to be at that “family meeting”.
I want her to search deeper to find truer examples of what it means to be intimate with someone to the point that it’s not about a perfectly planned kiss.  I want her to find the intimacy where she feels beautiful and loved despite and without her makeup.  Without her courage.  Without her strength.  With the lights on.  I want her to know that intimacy exists when fears take over and tears tangled with good intentions meet, and he is still there.  Intimacy is not easy, and it will not always be present, but if you work hard at it, it can be resurrected over and over.
I want her to search deeper to find truer examples of what it means to be beautiful.  And not just to be, but to feel it too.  Beauty comes so easily to the airbrushed images that dance around us.  Selfie after photoshopped selfie shows us desirable things in others which only highlights the undesirable things we find in ourselves.  I want her to realize that real beauty has imperfections.  There are stretchmarks.  There are scars.  There are wrinkles and gray hairs.  There are wounds that go deeper than the skin will show, but true beauty is found in the hands of the people that surround her, support her, love her, and find her beauty in her actions.  Beauty is everywhere, and not just in the mirror that reflects a perfect image of a cartoon figure.  Beauty is in her laughter, her smile, her song, her hands, her words, her heart, and her eyes.
I want her to search deeper to find truer examples of love.  Love comes easily to the writers of Hollywood and Disney, and it leads all little girls to believe that finding love is easy and always perfect.  And it’s not.  It’s freaking hardwork, and there is sweat involved with compromise and tears and moments of frustration.  Those moments are hidden moments that we don’t always get to see, but they are there in every love story.  She will have to figure out how to highlight her high points and hide her lows like everyone else, but as long as it is with someone who holds her up instead of down, it will work out.
I am not shattering her world at this young age.  I am trying to build around it so that when the picture perfect romance or friendship or moment doesn’t happen the way the script would normally go, there will still be reason to smile.  It seems silly and pointless at the young age of three, but her little heart is already on her sleeve, exposed and open to everything life has to offer.  She is resilient and hopeful, and she is very much my child.  My little romantic will always believe in her happily ever after, and I want to give her all the ways her happily ever after can exist.
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