Around the time Hadley was about 1 and 1/2, one of her favorite activities was to go to Barnes and Noble and play with the toy train in the children's section. On one of our outings there, I fell into a conversation with another mother whose child was also playing at the train table. She asked me how old Hadley was, and when I told her she said, "Just wait 'til she turns 3." All of the sudden everything is 'princess this' and 'princess that.'" I nodded along but didn't have much to say about it since I didn't know what Hadley would be like at 3.
But I thought, "So what if Hadley is interested in princesses? And so what if she still likes trucks and school buses and tools? Why does that matter?" When I was a kid, I loved dolls. And Barbies. And I wanted to be a Laker Girl. Most of my friends were pretty good athletes, and while I tried to play the soccer, softball, or what have you, I was more of a hindrance then a help on the field. I was too busy making up dance routines in my head to watch where the ball was going. Plus, I was never tough.
I was a little ashamed of my "girly girl" personality. I didn't tell people I still liked to play with dolls and Barbies past the age when it seemed I shouldn't be playing with them anymore. And when I got to high school, I secretly tried out for the dance team because I didn't want anyone making fun of me. (I figured if I made the team then I'd deal with comments later, but I didn't want anyone to make me second guess myself for trying out because they thought it was stupid.)
All I'm saying is it would've been nice to know a girl like Fancy Nancy when I was growing up. This girl is fancy. And she is not ashamed of it. In fact, she insists that everyone and everything else in her family be fancy, too. In the first book, Fancy Nancy, there is a great picture of Fancy Nancy showing us her room before she makes it fancy. Flip the page, and the next illustration is extraordinary. There's bows on the knobs of her drawers, and Christmas lights on her mirror. She made a canopy above her bed that's held up with broomsticks tied to the bedposts with fancy bows. I just want to sit down with her in her room and ask if she has any hoop skirts, and if she does, could we play Gone With the Wind together?
Nancy uses words that are fancier then just your normal, everyday words. She likes to use pens with "plumes," and her favorite color is "fuchsia." She calls her family "posh" after they dress up in their fanciest clothes to go out to dinner with Nancy.
I like the Fancy Nancy books because Nancy is a strong character who is enjoys herself and the things around her regardless of what others might think. Why not get ice cream with a ton of sprinkles on it if you can? Why not wear ballet slippers, butterfly wings, and a tiara to the park?
Hadley likes her, too. I see her looking very carefully at the pictures when we read Fancy Nancy books. She cares about this character. When Fancy Nancy and her family go out to dinner, Nancy has an accident and falls down as several plates of ice-cream fall down with her. Hadley is so sad for Fancy Nancy. And in Bonjour, Butterfly!, when Fancy Nancy can't go to her friend Bree's birthday party, Hadley is concerned as well. But she also admires Fancy Nancy's creativity and resourcefulness. She studies her accessories and outfits, and looks around her house to see if she can come up with something similar.
I'm not so concerned about what Hadley will become, as I am about who she will become. I want to introduce her to characters who are interesting, and funny, and unique. There will be a time in her life when unfortunately, she'll be pressured to be the same as everyone. She may still be in love with school buses or her dad's screwdriver, but she'll think she can't like those things for some reason or another. But I hope that by introducing her to characters like Fancy Nancy, she'll have some foundation for knowing that she can be interested in whatever she wants to be interested in. I hope she also knows that just because she's a girl, she can like tools, or tiaras and I won't care.
A couple of nights ago, Hadley was making a picture for Fancy Nancy. She was using glitter (of course), and I suggested that we write a letter to go along with the picture she made. Hadley thought that was a good idea so I wrote down what Hadley had to say.
Here's the picture she made:
We mailed it off and Hadley's waiting for a reply. I don't know if we'll get one because the only address I could find was the Harper Collins one in New York.
If I were to run into the woman I saw at Barnes and Noble again, I'd say that Hadley does like princesses, and the color pink, and she really wants to take ballet lessons. But she also loves Goofy - probably more then anything in this whole world - and baseball, and recently took me on a trip to Target to find a dump truck. And I'm so proud of her for all the interests she has. She is a unique little girl with a strong personality. And I hope she stays that way.