Sugar and Spice and All things nice. That’s what little girls are made of. But let’s not forget about oestrogen. The hormone that scares the hell out of every living man.
We understand that daughters are the Achilles heel of every dad. It’s the weak spot in the armour of parenting, where the smallest hug is a lethal knife that penetrates into your heart and make the greatest warriors fall.
The best way to describe raising this lethal mix of sugar, spice and oestrogen, would be being locked up in a cell with the personifications of intrigue, interest, exhaustion, hilarity, love, passion, empathy, frustration and a few other unpronounceable characters. Our daughters keeps us dazed and confused for most of the time. Manipulating us with the greatest love known to man and a father’s twisted sense of protecting them against the cruel world.
As any father would happily admit, MY little Princess is the most beautiful girl in the world. She’s the sweetest little complicated piece of work you’ll find south of the equator. Because she’s unpredictable. And once that hormone starts surging through their bodies, fathers just stand back, for there is no sense in trying to find any logic in their behaviour. It’s like trying to understand how planes stay up in the air or why Kanye West is famous.
It’s good to know that this is an ancient mystery. As long as little females were born, fathers were trying to make sense of the confusion and exhilleration and love that took over their lives. The first people to document their experiences were Hans Christian Anderson and the Grimm brothers. Cleverly disguising their comments as fairy tales.
It’s dusk. The sun is rising lazily in the East, throwing a warm glow over the darkness below. I step into her room, watching Sleeping Beauty lying in a circle of blond curls, serene and peaceful. And I have to wake her. I’m scared. I walk closer and touch her face. I call her name softly. Twice. She turns her head and groans. I see her blue eyes, sleepily locked on mine. And I realise that I’ve just woken Malificent.
I leave the room quickly.
I pour the coffee, anxiously looking down the corridor for her to exit the room. Should I dare call her again? I decide not too. As I finish the coffee, the girl from Brave walks out of her room, with a bright pink blanket in tow. Her hair is all over the place. She walks past me and slumps in the sofa. Takes the remote and with the happy disposition of the Wicked Witch of the West, scans for the Disney Channel.
She finally locks onto the 17th repeat of some Disney show. Like Aerial sitting in her cave day-dreaming about having feet, whilst cuddling a fork in her little cave surrounded by all the thing-a-ma-jigs she’s collected. Lost in her own little dream landscape. And I find myself sipping coffee and staring at her. Seeing her composure dissolves whilst sipping on her hot chocolate. Until she finally cracks a smile and Cinderella starts chatting about the things she needs to do today.
But then we need to move. She needs to get dressed and eat and brush her teeth. All those things cruel parents expect of their kids. Like Rapunzel locked in a tower, forced to tie down her wild curls in a ponytail of sorts. And she shifts momentarily into a grumpy Snow White, receiving no recognition for all the hard work she has to do everyday of her life.
A few minutes later little Red Riding Hood exits the bathroom, all skippy and jolly, ready with her basket of school books and a lunch box, eagerly waiting to get to school and share another amazing day. Our own blonde Dorothy, eagerly waiting to meet the Wizard of Oz. And off she goes.
Then the anticipation starts. For we never know what the Wizard will tell her. If it’s good news, Dorothy clicks her red heels and comes home with hugs and kisses and so much laughter that the whole house shakes. But when the wizard tells her to go to hell, she basically does and returns with enough fire and brimstone to make dragons squirm. Like a very pissed off Fiona.
My princess (with the help of Oestrogen) has the determination of Rapunzel, the sweetness of Snow White, the adventurous spirit of Pocahontas, the stubbornness of Merida, the curiosity of Ariel, the work-ethic of Cinderella, the beauty of Aurora, the sensitivity of Jasmine, the wisdom of Mulan, the love of Belle and the kindness of Tiana. And I’m powerless.
What else can a father do with an ambush of hugs? Or when she clings to me like she’s never letting me go? Or when she cuddles in my lap and treats me like her very own Prince Charming? What can I do? I’m weak. I’m stuck, motionless under her spell. And I want to stay there forever. Her hero.
But that’s why raising a girl is not a fairy tale, for you’ll fight to keep the dragons and witches at bay, until her real Prince Charming comes and steals her away. And I’ll have to let her go. I’ll have to open the door and release my Princess… Just like Hans and the Grimm brothers warned us, all those centuries ago.
But for know, she’s mine. All mine.