Many months ago now, I made a deal with the devil. The terms: if Tessa agreed to go cold turkey on the pull-ups (no nap, no night-time, no accidents ever again), I would paint her bedroom the “color of castles”…the color pink. Done.
Anything to move beyond $40-a-case princess pull-ups.
And you can guess what happened next. She called my bluff. Within days, the child dropped those diapers like a glass of milk and made a daily routine of relentlessly badgering me about when I would take her to the paint store.
I stalled and made excuses. A colleague with grown daughters found a pink chandelier in her attic and asked if I wanted it. Yes! I made the hubs install it and bought myself a few more weeks.
After another week of steady preschooler pressure, I made a solo trip to the paint store on my lunch break and grabbed four (acceptable) pale pink swatches. I taped them to her wall. I told her it would take time to choose the perfect shade. She marched right up to them and immediately pointed to one in particular: Priscilla Pink.
A few days later I mixed up the order of the swatches and asked her a second time. You really want to be sure I said again. “That one,” she said definitively, pointing to the same swatch in its new location. Yup—Priscilla Pink.
It’s not that I have anything against the color pink per se. It’s just that—if I’m being honest—I worry about the frilly, privileged, rhinestone-encrusted princess narrative that bombards our little girls on a daily basis. We surrounded Tessa with trains and cars and trucks and balls for the first few years of life because Ethan came first and we saw no reason to rush out and buy her girl toys specifically.
But nature is a powerful thing and as soon as she could express a preference, she put those trains to work shuttling Barbie to and from the royal ball. (And most times Ethan gets to be the dutiful footman.)
And then, finally, on a Sunday morning a few weeks ago—and after a rare late-night date with the husband that left me with a dull headache in the morning—she moved in for the kill when I was weak. It went something like this:
4yo: “Mom, remember when we made a deal a long time ago that you would paint my room pink if I didn’t have any accidents anymore?”
Me: “Yes, I remember.”
4yo: “Well, it’s been a lot of days that I have been waiting and I really love Priscilla Pink and I chose it two times and I want to help you paint my room and it will be so beautiful that every time someone comes in they will say, ‘Oh Tessa, what a beautiful pink chandelier you have and what a beautiful pink room you have.’”
Me: “They will?”
4yo: “Yes. And we need to paint today because I really can’t wait any more days.”
Now you don’t need me to tell you that her “help” extended the job by several hours and that starting a painting project on a Sunday when you have to work the next day is not the best strategy. Or that pale pink really needs a prime coat first (for which I did not plan) or that even the smallest room becomes really big when you are wiping up the drips of a 4yo as she goes.
Suffice it to say that it took a few consecutive post-dinner second shifts to make good on my deal. And, in those mindless hours, it hit me that I was saying goodbye to my baby girl with each brushstroke.
Diaper bins now hold dress-up clothes. Gone are the quaint nursery animal wall hangings (“baby decorations” she called them one night as I tucked her in). In their place hang big kid art projects—paintings and drawings and creatures cut with safety scissors. She can brush her own teeth and choose her own outfits. Layer upon layer of pink.
She is the happiest princess in the land in that pink room—because the choice was all hers, and I like to think, because she had to wait for it. Suddenly, she is so grown up, seemingly overnight, and I find myself savoring this phase instead of fighting it like all those culture-war bloggers suggest.
Yes, I will embrace the glitter and the endless pairs of plastic shoes and the wands and the crowns with their jewels that drop off in every room in the house as she processes past.
Soon enough, the magic of these things will disappear forever and, I’m quite certain, so will the color pink.
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