I inherited a house that was gender specific. When I say I inherited it, I mean that I paid a ridiculously inflated price for a 3 bedroomed semi-detached that we'll be paying off for 25 years after the Fens have vanished beneath the Wash. But I did inherit the paint jobs that were within it, and have sensibly decided to put off painting anything until the kids are past the smearing bodily fluids and else on the walls stage. The paint I inherited was, in my bedroom, dull white. Liveable. For years, probably. In the same way that you don't notice the pile of crap at the bottom of the stairs if you leave it there long enough and start automatically stepping over it like it's another actual step, after a while you don't notice the dirty dull walls and the requisite squashed mosquitos (Believe me, you live in the Fens, there will always be squashed mosquitos). The paint in the second biggest bedroom was Boys blue. The paint in the tiny bedroom was one shade off of neon pink. I could have put son into the tiny pink room, but as older sibling, and at that time, the one who could walk, he got first dibs. Daughter ended up pink. Pink walls, Pink, pink carpet, and white fitted cupboards with pink fittings.
At first, I tried to downsize the pink. I got a red and orange duvet for the cot-bed. Green shelves. It just looked like Tinkerbell had taken acid and invited that boss eyed Linda woman from those changing rooms programmes in, when she was drunk. There is no getting away from this much pink. I ignored it, even though when the sun hit the room of a morning it burnt your retinas. But then, daughter hit the pink stage. Now everything must be pink. Make me pink bunting mummy, make me pink curtains. I must wear my pink pajamas. I must have my pink Sleeping Beauty on the bed. Say WHAT? Go back a bit there. Sleeping Beauty? We have never seen the film. We have never seen ANY Disney Princess film. How can you know which one is which? Are they beaming Disney direct into your brain? Is there a chip in there? Why have they all got such lobotomised expressions? And what happened to Cinderella? She used to be strawberry, red really, and now she's peroxide? ( See pictures: one from the 1950's film, where she is officially "Titian" and one from now, where she looks like, well, any blonde idiot) And HOW DO YOU KNOW WHICH ONE SHE IS?
Sobbing, I admit defeat. Yes, have a Princess lunchbox, then, damn you. My defiance of the stupid Disney Princess, in fact any Princess nonsense has failed. Those books I read you, daughter, that featured feisty girls, and nary a pink idiot in sight, did they mean nothing? For Gods' sake, Mog the cat is a better role model than Cinderella! Mog has some oompf about her! Mog refuses to eat the fish and holds out for eggs. Mog doesn't fret about a dress. And Sophie, well, she has dinner with a tiger and goes out for tea in her nightie (possibly because the Tiger is in fact a figment of her mothers imagination, the excuse she gives Daddy about tea not being ready because she has been at the gin and left Sophie in front of Waybaloo, or is that just me?) So we go through a turgid week of reading Cinderella, Disney style as a bedtime story. We purchase a Princess doll with pocket money. I dress daughter in flouncy dresses. I wait.
And then. We are playing "Princesses" with the frankly simple looking Rapunzel doll and the dollshouse crew, who are wooden, have their faces scratched off and hair cut, and look like weird Bagpuss crossed with "Saw" bit part actors. When she suddenly says "What do Princesses do?"
"What do you mean? All the time?"
"No, after they do the marrying, what do they do?"
"Well, the stories stop then"
"What do real Princesses do?"
(Do not mention reality, which is basically : They get super thin despite being surrounded by Fortnums food, pop several out and be miserable, apart from when they smile opening things.And then they die.)
"Well, Princesses don't really do a lot, apart from meet people who like Princesses and wear dresses. What do you think they should do?"
"Fight dragons and be doctors to people and then have tea and do sliding on the slide, and then be friends with the dragon and have a ride".
"Well, that seems very sensible to me, and I bet real princesses would like to do that. Shall we just play something else?"
"Yes. (chucks Rapunzel, picks up manky Baby Anabel). Let's feed her to a dragon".
We go onto re-enact Andromeda and so forth. No more Princess. Rapunzel is still where she was thrown. And that, I hope, is that. Just to be safe, as a reality check, I have a tea towel from the local pound shop which shows the two badly fabric printed beaming faces of Kate and William, in all their glory, only, on a tea towel, and looking a bit weird. Although even the best photos can't disguise the fact that he's going on top, looking more like his dad every day and that she knows it. I heave a sigh of relief. For now.