Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Princess and the Faux Pas

Mary Mac, our precocious, dramatic, five year old, was truly in her element while visiting the Magic Kingdom. Cinderella’s Castle beckoned to her in the same way Swiss Cake Rolls summon her to the kitchen pantry. The cast members at Walt Disney World furthered the delight by referring to our five year old as “Princess” at every interaction. With each greeting, I watched her stand a little taller, walking with her hands clasped delicately in front of her chest, even speaking sporadically with an English accent.

Several days into our trip, Mary Mac, with a contemplative look on her face, asked me if I thought that she might have been switched at the baby hospital, that perhaps Cinderella was raising a child that looked like me with dark hair, brown eyes, and freckles on her nose.

(If it hadn’t brought me such great and immediate joy, I might have been offended. Apparently, brunettes with excess freckles do not a princess make.)

I assured her that I was certain she belonged to me, even though our appearances were different.

“In fact,” I continued, “you look very much like your dad which is why I think you are so beautiful.”

“I guess so,” Mary responded, somewhat disappointed that royalty was not in her lineage or a royal court in her near future. “But he says I act just like you.”

(If it hadn’t brought me such great and immediate joy, I might have been offended for the second time that day. Apparently, this brunette with excess freckles ancestrally contributes to and is solely responsible for the monkey fits, mild histrionics and over the top dramatics occasionally demonstrated by our blond haired beauty.)

When booking our vacation months ago, I desperately tried to make a dining reservation with Cinderella. Evidently, Her Highness’ calendar was full at the Castle but she would be able to fit us in with all the other princesses in Norway at Epcot. It was very impressive that Cinderella could honor multiple commitments in multiple places. Clearly, she rocks it at carpool, baseball practices and school functions, a commonality we can finally share.

Our meeting with all of the Disney princesses occurred over breakfast. We were ushered into a makeshift photo studio to take pictures with the very glamorous Belle. The both of us were completely mesmerized- Mary Mac by her beauty and me by her ultra-white teeth. Oh, Crest White Strips, how you let me down.

After the photo shoot, a friendly fellow clad in velvet knickers and unusually pointy jazz shoes led us to our table. He swiftly pulled my chair away from the table with a theatrical swoop and grand bow, a movement so sudden and unexpected that it left me slightly unbalanced. With very little grace, I plopped – or fell - into the wooden chair, while Mary Mac daintily took her seat in a place she knew, with up most certainty, she rightfully belonged.

Minutes after our seating (or falling), the first princess arrived at our quaint table for two. With an abundance of red hair and green sequins, the lovely princess warmly embraced my little girl.

“Oh, Mary Mac, it’s your favorite princess MURIEL!” I exclaimed a little too eagerly.

Rolling her eyes in a way that could only be construed as true to her DNA, Mary Mac quickly corrected the first of two faux pas that would cause her great embarrassment. “Mom, this is ARIEL,” she said with great exaggeration and pronunciation of the mermaid’s name, sharing a knowing look with the princess.

For a moment, I had that same excluded feeling felt in grade school when friends were astonished at the lack of interest I showed in feeding their Baby Alives or changing the diapers of said babies which only made me want to vomit in my own mouth.

Quickly trying to cover the appellation blunder, I whipped out the camera to take pictures of the two beauties, all the while calling out ridiculous, yet encouraging, comments as I snapped away.

“Oh, that is so pretty ARIEL! Isn’t ARIEL a beautiful name, Mary Mac? In fact, I should have named you ARIEL, because I like it that much!” And on, and on, and on. Know that my behavior embarrasses even me.

With great relief, I was able to correctly identify the other princesses who visited our table. Cinderella:

And then Snow White:

But then the stumper came along. One would think that I had learned my lesson just minutes before with the incorrect misnomer used for all to hear, but the accurate recognition of Snow White and Cinderella unfortunately instilled a false sense of confidence.

“Mary Mac, here comes LENORA!” I enthusiastically announced.

This time, the princess corrected me.

In a high lilting voice that causes all small birds to sing and rejoice, the lady wearing pink, funky shoulder pads firmly responded, “My name is AURORA.”

Mary Mac looked at me and slowly shook her head, letting it be known that my princess skills were clearly lacking, and bounded out of her seat for a photo op with her long lost sister.

Later that day, Mary Mac recounted the excitement of meeting all of her royal kin with her Mimi (grandmother).

“And I met Cinderella and Snow White and Aurora and Ariel and Belle,” she said in one precious run-on sentence. “It was so much fun. But mommy had a little trouble with the names, because you know that she’s not a big fan of the princesses,” she added with hand gestures punctuating each declaration.

“But it’s okay,” she continued, with a smile in my direction that always melts my heart. “I’m still glad that mommy and I are just alike.”

And for that very reason, she will be receiving the coveted Baby Alive for Christmas.


Anonymous said...

JOOOOOONI, even Brian can do better that you!!! Muriel? REAlly? msf

Joni said...


Yes, it is pathetic, but very true. Mary Mac tells the story to all who will listen.

Before, I've always relied on you for guidance on all things girly and it hasn't been as readily available since our move from South Carolina.

So really, you are to blame. : )


nottoooldtolearn said...

That's sweet.

If it makes you feel better, living with three testosterone filled children (and one filled husband :-) ) I have become an amnesiac to all things feminine. If a princess had a name tag on, I'd still struggle with who she was. You can tell Mary Mac that, I'm sure she would be horified - but it would certainly boost you up more!

Joni said...


Thanks! I'll be sure to let Mary Mac know that there are others out there like me.

I imagine, however, that this bit of news will just be met with an eyeroll. : )

JMom said...

I had no clue "aurora" had a name until I met her at Disney. We are heading there this week, thanks for the prompt to grab a princess cliff notes before we go!

Joni said...


Have a great trip! Tell Aurora and Ariel that I said hello.

And that they have great teeth.


Tracy said...

you really should have studied up on the princesses just like you used to study for Coach Arnold's tests. we were at the same place yesterday for lunch with them. Isn't it just magical! you would get along great with my 5year old who refuses to speak to any princess except Ariel, Jasmine and Pochahantas.