I get why a lot of people hate the whole princess culture aimed at little girls. There’s a hell of a lot of toxic bullshit in there.
But when I was a tiny princess, my dad used to be my royal advisor. He would come to me, and over tea we would discuss the problems of the kingdom. He would tell me that new people wanted to move to the kingdom, and ask me what we should do. Or he would tell me that the teddybears and the dolls were fighting over the enchanted forest, and ask me what to do. Basically, he took the trappings of the princess culture, and used it as a tool to teach me about leadership, civic responsibility, and compassion.
So if you have a little princess around, consider helping her figure out how to run her kingdom. There’s no sense in telling a kid they can’t be a leader, or that they can’t wear sparkles while they do it.
THIS IS THE BEST POST. Also A+ Dadding!
This story reminds me, too, of something I always talk about which was that I never met an author until I was like 25. Until then, I didn’t think I could be one because I thought being an author was for special rich people who lived far away, probably in New York, and had some secret access to that whole world. (This was before the internet.) So I can totally imagine how a non-white kid who only ever met white authors would think the way the girl in this story does.
Adults are models of possibility. We need to model all sorts of possibility for all sorts of kids, and can’t ever assume that they just “know” about things existing that they don’t get to see and experience for themselves.
Especially when you’re a poor kid or otherwise not privileged in some way or come from an addicted family, you tend to have people around you that have those same limited and limiting beliefs. I never had goals or ambitions modeled for me by the adults in my immediate family. No one ever said I could and should try things that I wanted to do and have dreams and take risks. I learned survival and getting by, and making do with what you have and staying safe. I was a poor kid, and got that. When I multiply my own experience by a factor of also not-white, I can start to catch a tiny glimpse of what the girl in Ellen’s story and kids like her are up against.
I can stand in front of kids and talk about my background of poverty, and the dysfunction I grew up in, and I do do that, to share my own struggle to achieve a goal. But when I’m talking to a roomful of not-white kids (and I’ve been to plenty of schools like that) I know it’s not the same as if they could see someone who looks like them telling that story. Thanks, Ellen, for sharing this.
Thank you to Sara for really understanding the importance of this issue and for caring enough to share it.
(I’m in grad school. I work part-time at the university IT desk.)
Me: “This is [University] service desk. How can I help you?”
Caller: “Hi. I’m having a problem with my computer. Could I schedule a time to come in?”
Me: “Sure thing. What’s your student ID number?”
Caller: “I don’t have one.”
Me: “You can find it on the back of your student ID.”
Caller: “I don’t have an ID.”
Me: “If you don’t have one of those yet, you can get it from the ID office in [Building]. Do you have any documents from [University]? Almost all documents you’d get from us have your ID at the top.”
Caller: “No. I’m not a student.”
Me: “Are you a faculty member, or an alumnus?”
Caller: “No. I’ve never been to [University]. I just heard you have tech support.”
Me: “Okay… I’m afraid we only offer support to students and faculty. I have the number of a local repair shop if you need it.”
Caller: “Will they charge me money?”
Caller: “But you offer your services for free.”
Me: “… TO STUDENTS. This is a help desk for students of [University] ONLY. We don’t offer support to the general public.”
Caller: “Why not?”
Me: “Because we’re not a computer repair shop. We’re a part of [University] and we exist solely to offer tech support to students and faculty. I’m afraid we can’t help you if you’re neither. Would you like that phone number now?”
Caller: “I don’t understand why you won’t just let me bring in my computer! It would only take a minute.”
Me: “We can’t service your computer because you’re not a student.”
Caller: “That’s so mean! What’s so special about being a student?”
Me: “Tuition?”Read more funny stories at NotAlwaysRight.com!: