My preschooler is getting old enough that shopping with her is starting to become more fun than the chore that it used to be. It’s also becoming more of a frequent event, now that’s she’s wearing out all of her clothes and shoes from running around on the playground.

The last time we went shoe shopping, when I saw her eyes fixated on the pink shoes covered in princess faces, I knew I was in trouble.

“How about these instead?” I asked, as I held up a pair of leopard print sneakers that I wished were in my size.

She scrunched her face up and shook her head.

“No, Mama. These ones light up,” she said.

She had already pulled out a pair of the pink shoes that were at least one size too small from a box, and had started to put them on her feet. The princess phase is upon us, I thought to myself as I put the sneakers I wanted to buy for her back on the shelf.

I don’t like the color pink. There was a decade in my life when my daily uniform was a black t-shirt and jeans. I had been a follower of the riot grrrl movement in the late nineties, which was a music scene that challenged gender roles in society. It would be interesting if my former favorite bands could see me now, with this tiny person demanding these girly sneakers.

As I searched for a pair of her coveted shoes in the correct size, I thought about my childhood. When I was 4, I went to my first princess movie with my grandmother and aunt. We had been the only people there, and it felt special to have an entire movie theater to ourselves. It had been the beginning of my own princess phase. I don’t have many specific memories from that era in my life, but thinking about sitting in that movie theater next to two of my favorite people in the world still makes me feel safe and secure. The memory reminds me of a sweet and simple time in life.

She stomped through the aisle in the sparkling shoes at least ten times, giggling the whole way. I had a choice to make. I could fight the princess phase and buy her a pair of sneakers she hated, or let Cinderella and Snow White win.

In a few weeks, I will take my little girl to her first princess movie. I hope that someday it will evoke the same memories of warmth and love that it does for me almost three decades later. I’m sure that she will want to wear the princess shoes that I bought for her.

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