I've always been radically opposed to kids having a sense of entitlement or "status." Before I had kids, I always slightly cringed when people would tell their daughters that they were princesses. I felt like it was setting them up for failure somehow... by making them think that the world would fall at their feet, or that they were deserving of better treatment than other girls. I just didn't like it. When the High Roller and I were finally blessed with a daughter, I softened on my feelings about referring to her as a princess, because I realized that it was possible to balance that out with teaching her that her strength is in her identity as a person, a child of God, and how she conducts herself in terms of making the world a better place. Naturally, when our fourth child, another daughter, was born, I didn't object to her being called a "princess"... I knew that with two older brothers and a big sister that were so close to her in age, that LLL would learn to take care of herself quickly, and that a "pet name" wouldn't shape her perception of her value as a person. I was right... in a way.
Princess isn't a good enough title for this 2-year-old and she'll tell you so.
After hearing the song "Royal" by Lorde on the radio, which has a tendency to attach itself to my brain like a mosquito on a sweaty thigh in June, I kept singing it around the house quite a bit, especially the part, "You can call me Queen Bee." Since my youngest daughter is my shadow -- my busy, loud, adorable shadow -- she's been hearing me sing it while I wash dishes, as I sweep the floor, and as I change her clothes. So, like many of the other songs she hears around here -- like the Presidents Song, or the 4 Types of Tissue rhyme,or anything by Johnny Rivers -- she soaks it up like a sponge, puts her own twist on it, and belts it out like Whitney Houston to Kevin Costner in The Bodyguard.
The first time I heard her singing it, I was cleaning in the kitchen (or at least pretending to do so) and she was playing in the adjoining room with her My Little Ponies. She sings to her animals a lot, so initially I didn't focus on WHAT she was actually saying. Then I heard it. She clearly sang "You can call me QUEEN BEEBS" and then a jumble of other lyrics. I laughed to myself and thought, "surely not..." Then she sang it again. I don't use her real name in my writing, but since it's important to this story, know that a shortened nickname for her given name is "Bebe." A lot of the time, her sibling and I will call her "Beebs."
I stepped into the room and asked her "What are you singing?" She replied, in only the way a toddler learning to structure sentences can, "singin MY song!" Then she started singing it again. I realized that she seriously thought the song said "Queen Beebs" and that it was about her. Every time it comes on the radio now she inserts Beebs into the lyrics.
As the fourth (and, very likely, final) child in our household, she has been cut a lot more slack than her older siblings have, for a variety of reasons, namely that I'm now too exhausted to freak out over the small stuff, like her getting food on her clothes, or running around naked in the house for half of day because she likes to be "nekkid." I indulge her more than I did them, because I realize that occasionally throwing the "rules" out of the window won't immediately turn them into lawless heathens -- like sharing candy with her at 10:00 p.m. because she still won't go to sleep and her siblings won't notice because they're asleep. But I've never told her that's she more loved or special than her siblings. This child has proclaimed herself "The Queen."
The other night, my husband was getting her ready for bed while I folded laundry nearby. The other kids were running around the room in a circle... I was too tired to care. The High Roller asked her lovingly, "Are you my princess?" and she replied, without hesitation, "NOPE! I'm queen, not princess." I dropped the shirt I was folding, looked at them and said, "No, Bebe... I am the queen in this house. Not you. Daddy and I are in charge -- not you, or any other kids."
She thought for a moment, then said, "We BOTH be queens. I be a queen like you. Queen Mommy AND Queen Bebe," then smiled.
Standing my ground, even though she looked adorable, I said, "Nope. I'm Queen Mommy and you're my little girl!"
She sighed in defeat, and now clothed in Hello Kitty pajamas, began to walk off, then turned around and smiled as she said," I be Queen tomorrow," then kept walking back to her room.
Two thoughts simultaneously crossed my mind. I love the fact that she's undeterred from becoming whatever she sets her mind to become as she grows older -- determination and tenacity have taken me many places in life -- and also that maybe she sees a queen as someone who takes charge and works hard to accomplish things, because she's certainly never seen me lie around and be pampered.
Then it hit me. It's my job as a mom to help channel that strong-willed spirit into positive things... and that I have my work cut out for me. Big time.
I'm going to need lots of prayer... and plenty of scotch.
Previously Published at www.herd-management.com