So I haven’t got around to telling you yet (unless I know you in real life, in which case I’ve probably told you far too many times!), but I won an AWARD. My editor at Australian Catholics entered one of my columns in the Australasian Religious Press Association awards and it won GOLD for ‘Best Humorous Article’. I’m so super stoked! Apparently, the other entrants weren’t particularly humorous, so I wasn’t so much the funniest as the only funny one, but I’m still going to see this as a win. It was AUSTRALASIAN, not just Australian, and it was RELIGIOUS, not just Catholic. I’m mega smug.
So I’m going to reprint the winning article here. Enjoy!
What a Girl Wants
If there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s anxious research. Whenever I feel overwhelmed, I read. Information soothes me.
When my eldest daughter was born, I devoured every book I could get my hands on, from What to Expect When You Expect to be Expecting, to Embryo Einsteins, to Have a New Newborn by Friday. Imagine my dismay when I discovered that simple toys could reinforce oppressive gender stereotypes and cripple the cognitive development of my wee girl-child. So, from the very start, I endorsed train sets, puzzles and every variety of Danish plastic construction system. Now, at almost twelve, Matilda is assertive and articulate and wants to be a mechanical engineer when she grows up (when she’s not busy being the Prime Minister of Australia). This, of course, is all due to my wise parenting methods. So I knew exactly which approach to take when my next daughter was born.
Annie, however, in all her four years of life, has politely declined Thomas and His Friends in favour of all things pink, sparkly and monarchical.
“Mummy, I want to be a princess!”
“That’s a good idea, Annie. Did you know that princesses are wise rulers and important decision makers? Let’s pretend your kingdom is a constitutional monarchy and implement free and fair elections for all of your subjects!”
“Do I get to wear a shiny dress?”
The real challenge came for me last Christmas. Annie’s wish list had only one item on it. Her large brown eyes shone and she spoke in hushed tones of finally owning . . . a Barbie doll.
I know the marketing executives would tell me that this tiny mannequin is actually an empowering role model, a true feminist. Didn’t I know there is even a Doctor Barbie? Girls can be doctors too! I try to swallow this, but it sticks in my throat. Barbie is, above all things, pretty. Literally, she is an object to be dressed and admired. I want more than this for my daughter.
“What else do you want for Christmas, Annie?”
“Just Barbie. If I tell Santa something else, he might not get me the Barbie.”
“What would you do if you got a Barbie?”
“OK. But you know Barbie’s not all that great. What does she do? Wear clothes? Sit around her dream house bemoaning the lack of space her vital organs have to function within that tiny tiny waist? There are better toys than Barbie!”
“Oh, I know you don’t like Barbie, Mummy,” Annie says composedly.
“Yes. That’s why I’m asking Santa to get me one”
But for all that, Santa, in all his wisdom, did not get Annie a Barbie doll. I imagine he couldn’t bring himself to turn into the lurid pink aisle at the toy section of Target and fork out thirty dollars for an 11-and-a-half-inch eating disorder just waiting to happen. I’m sure he tried. I’m sure he went back again and looked and scratched his beard and called one of his best elves for advice. But it was not to be. On Christmas morning, Annie ran downstairs and opened her pillowcase to discover a Lego set for a pink princess castle, complete with flowers, princess and pony. I held my breath. Annie looked up at me – and beamed.
“Look, Mummy! Look what Santa got me! It’s just what I wanted! It’s just what I asked him for!”
Wait, what? Had she completely forgotten our conversation? And how could she have asked Santa for this Lego set? She’d never seen one before!
Shut up, Kate! Just shut up! You’ve almost got away with it! Smile! Nod!
“Oh, yes, Annie. Gosh, Santa is very clever. You know, I think he’s even smart enough to be a princess!”