Thirty-five Months: Glinda is a Gateway Drug

Dear Miriam,

Here you are a month short of your third birthday and you've discovered princesses. It all started with Wizard of Oz, your first movie. We were thinking of introducing you to movies (six months ago, you were completely unimpressed with Sesame Street), but Mana and Papa beat us to the point when you stayed with them one weekend. Bubbe got wind of your passion for Dorothy and before we knew it you were asking to see the witch melt every time we passed a TV set.

Soon we were combing the DVD aisle for Wizard of Oz. It seemed like a pretty good starting place, as a friend pointed out to me, the music is great and what's so wrong about a movie that teaches about Good Witches and Bad Witches? As we approached the aisle, you pointed straight at Cinderella and announced, I want that one. Really? I asked as I peeled my eyebrows from the ceiling. Yes, she looks like Glenda. And so it begins.

The next time we stopped to get you a cell phone charm (a perfect distraction while we wait for our pizza), after talking about buses and trucks and Hello Kitty the whole way there, you headed straight for the Princess display. You seemed a little disappointed that you got the mermaid, and kept asking why she has a fish tail.

Clearly we're raising a cultural illiterate. When the lady pilot on our most recent flight gave you a Disney plane card, your face read, Huh? And this month when we made our first visit to Fairyland for our beloved Pugawug's third birthday, you were nonplussed. Turns out you can recite 10 Mice for Tet from memory but you have no idea who Goldilocks is. Elena's Serenade is a nightly favorite, but the Queen of Hearts might as well be the local raving schizophrenic.

I feel a little like I'm in a Grimm fairy tale myself, as we begin to navigate the Princess waters. I've been heard to say (over and over) that once you found princesses and faeries, I wouldn't stand in your way, believing that blocking this phase would cement it for sure. But I didn't want Princess Miriam to be a foregone conclusion, and strictly forbade the introduction of princesses until you asked for it yourself. I not-so-secretely applauded whenever you picked a digger over a doll, a fireman's hat over a tutu. Now I feel a little like Sleeping Beauty's mom, thinking I could clear my kingdom of temptation and thereby save you from the witch's curse. Alas, I expect to be fully engulfed in tiaras by next month.

There's a debate 'round these parts as to whether fairies are better than princesses, being more empowered and all that, but frankly fairies skeeve me out, as does anything remotely related to the Renaissance Fair scene (carnies, small hands...), so I just plan to ride this one out.

Another phase that has us reeling is your new-found separation anxiety. You didn't go through much of this at 9 months or 18 months. I wondered if it was because you've always had so many caregivers, but you also seemed healthily attached so we figured we got a by on that one. But in the last few weeks, you seem genuinely scared that we're going to leave you somewhere, whether it's in the car, in the house or the supermarket. You have no issues with being left at preschool, but let one of us go downstairs to get something (a fairly frequent occurance in a 3-story rowhouse) and you're terrified. I don't know exactly what this phase is about, but we try to swallow our frustration (sweetheart, it's not always practical to go up one floor and back together) and reassure you that we will *never* leave you alone anywhere. I just hope we're doing this right, your fear breaks my heart.

In other news, I was lucky enough to share a truly extraordinary experience with you this month. In between holidays and surgical procedures, I converted to Judaism, and after my immersion, you and your dad joined me in the mikvah. To be together so closely in such a beautiful, calming environment is something I hope never to forget. And your reaction was suitably awestruck. I don't know if it was the gorgeous tile of the bath (Those are Stars of David!), the warm enveloping rain waters, or something more spiritual, but you were open and happy and simply laid back in our arms to let the waters wash over you. You were a champ about being dunked, and entertained the mikvah lady and the rabbis to no end with your commentary.

Since then, you frequently call me by my Hebrew name and ask, So are you Jewish now, Mama? Am I Jewish? Is Henry Jewish? We go through all the people we know (but almost always starting with Henry), we talk about how there are lots of different religions in the world, and I note that this is your first awareness of the differences among people.

L'chaim, my love, it's been another wonderful month,
Your Mama