Before I go any further, I feel obliged to give a disclaimer: I am a very conservative parent. Really square, strict, old-fashioned, stodgy, uptight. I freely admit this. For example, my five year old has never watched High School Musical or Camp Rock and doesn't know who Hannah Montana or the Jonas Brothers are. She's never seen a PG rated film and even several "classic" G rated ones yet either. I am very stringent in what I feel is appropriate for her, more so than most of the rest of the parents of five year olds from what I can tell... It may be naive, but I believe in preserving the innocence of childhood as long as humanly possible, even if the larger world will be invariably crashing into our more innocent life soon enough now that Kiddo is starting elementary school. It just seems to me that kids grow up way, way too fast these days and there's plenty of time to worry about grown-up things, and precious little time to just be a kid.
That being said, the kiddo was invited to a birthday party that totally goes against everything I believe is appropriate for a five year old, and we went to it today. It was a "Perfect Princess Ball" party held at a children's salon and spa over on the ritzy side of town. Needless to say, I had reservations from the get-go, when the birthday girl's mother was first describing the party to me, but the kiddo overheard her and was really, really excited at the prospect, so I said she could go. It wasn't until this morning, mere hours before the party, that I googled the name of the salon to find out its exact location and clicked on the link for the party that I really started getting icked out. Hubby looked over my shoulder at the website's description of the party and rolled his eyes, but at that point it wasn't like I was going to tell Kiddo we weren't going, so off we went, me with teeth gritted in advance.
I'm happy to say that it wasn't as bad as I expected. Well, actually it kinda was, but I exerted influence wherever possible to make it less Jon-Benet and more "oh this is fun if not exactly age-appropriate" in terms of the makeup and nail polish.
Yes, makeup and nail polish. The party started by each girl picking out her princess gown - Kiddo immediately and unequivocally decided upon the Cinderella gown (which is odd because she's never professed any specific favoritism among the Disney princesses, though when pushed she'll name Ariel, Cindy, Jasmine and Belle ALL as her equal favorites). Good thing they had multiples of the various gowns because I think four of the seven girls chose the same, pink gown (I think it was the Sleeping Beauty gown..?). Then after the moms helped the girls change into the princess gowns, they each had hair, makeup and manicures done. (Yes I am throwing up a little in my mouth to say that 3, 4 and 5 year olds were having manicures.) There is one official "Princess Up do" that is done at this salon and fortunately all the girls had long enough hair to accomplish the style. (Had I been an attendee at such a party in my childhood, I wouldn't have been able to have the up do as I always had short hair. I guess they just would've glitter sprayed me and been done with it and I am sure I would've been sorely disappointed.) Once the hair was secured in the official Princess coiffure, it was shellacked to the nth degree with spray-on glitter. Kiddo chose gold, but silver was also an option, and one could probably have grabbed a ball of glitter out of the air when all heads were duly sprayed. Then it was on to the makeup and nails chair, with more teeth gritting on my part... I gently steered Kiddo away from the Eff-Me Red nail polish that was her first pick to the clearish-light pink glitter polish. The girl doing her nails was shocked that by the ripe, old age of five, Kiddo had never had a manicure. (I have put polish on her toenails, but never on her fingernails yet. It just never seemed necessary, somehow... Also, I'm not a mani-pedi kind of chick myself. I've had exactly two manicures in my life - other than doing my nails myself - once for my wedding and once when I was going to be on Jeopardy.) Then it was time for the makeup application - again, I steered Kiddo away from the "Brooke Shields in Pretty Baby" or "Jodie Foster in Taxi Driver" colors. Kiddo opted for a light, light pinkish eyeshadow and blush and blue (!) glitter lip gloss that actually looked mostly clear though still quite glittery once it was on her lips. Then the girls got their "Princess glitter stars" on their cheeks, which were applied via a tool that strongly resembled a branding iron (!!) and they were ready for the catwalk.
Yes, I kid you not - a catwalk. Kiddo referred to it as a "stage" as did the other girls, but it was in fact a catwalk. The girls did a few group dances, like the Hokey Pokey and the Limbo (under a fuchsia, feather boa, of course) and then were all given their Magic Princess wands and taught the three things they needed to know to be princesses: How to wave, how to wave their wand and how to curtsy. Once they were officially schooled in all things Princess, they lined up behind the beaded curtain and one by one were called forth to walk onto the catwalk - erm, I mean stage - and be crowned and sprinkled liberally with "fairy dust" (because seriously, there may have been entire centimeters of the girls left uncovered with glitter at this point). While they did their walk-n-wave post-crowning, one of the assistants read off information gathered during the hair and makeup portion of events.
For Kiddo, she said this:
Introducing Princess Kiddo from the Kingdom of OurTown. Princess Kiddo's number one kingdom rule is to always have fun and play together. Princess Kiddo's favorite royal activity in the castle is playing with her safari animals and if she could have a royal pet, she would have a royal puppy.
(A lot of the other girls said their number one castle rule was No Boys Allowed which is something I am guessing they were prompted into a bit by the salon assistant... I don't think these girls are quite at the "boys have cooties" age yet, are they? Kiddo certainly isn't - she loves playing with boys and girls equally. A kid is a kid is a kid to her...)
After the crowning ceremony was over and all the girls had their marabou-trimmed tiaras firmly planted upon their glitter-bedecked up dos, the princess posse posed for their group photo (we were all given keepsake copies in a cardboard frame) and then had to change back out of their gowns before cupcakes (topped with about 4 inches of pink icing and sprinkles - perfection on a plate in Kiddo's opinion), juice boxes and present opening. Then, hyped up on sugar and with clouds of glitter wafting all around, we were released back into the wild, where the kiddo was probably visible from outer space due to her copiously beglittered state reflecting in the sunshine. Whew.
So, not as wholly inappropriate as I'd feared it would be, but still not my number one pick for a birthday party. Kiddo informed me that she enjoyed the "puffer" the most, as we were heading for home. I asked her what she meant and she said when the girl put the pink stuff on her cheeks to make them puffy. Ah, puffer, right. She also enjoyed dancing in the big dress (and seriously, what little girl doesn't enjoy spinning around in a full skirt? I know that was always my sisters and my favorite thing to do as kids in our Sunday best) and being a princess and wants to have her next birthday party there (of course). I'm just hoping she'll forget alllll about it by the time next May rolls around! I guess I'm glad we didn't just not go, but boy, not exactly my cup of parental tea. I was a little bit concerned when she wouldn't stop talking about the makeup and hair and was insisting on not washing it off or undoing the up do when we first arrived home, but then after a couple of hours (during which time she played with her safari animals while dressed in her Snow White gown out of her dress-up trunk) she grew tired of it and wanted her hairdo undone. It took some serious scrubbing in the tub, but she was mostly glitter-free by the time she went to bed. I'm still coated - collateral damage from the princessification...