I am convinced there is a DNA sequence for attraction to glitter, tulle, and feather boas. I am convinced there is a unique DNA sequence for those who can pull off wearing all three, at once, with style. That person has the Princess Gene.
My daughter Little Miss Adorable is blonde, blue-eyed toddler with an angelic smile. People give her free stuff all the time. She works her charm. She picks out her own clothes, preferably pink and sparkly. Little Miss Adorable shines when all attention is on her, and thrives with an adoring audience. She has the Princess Gene.
Little Miss Adorable also has Prader-Willi Syndrome. Like children with Down Syndrome, Little Miss Adorable has hypotonia (loose ligaments and muscles) and she cannot walk yet. She will walk eventually, as her muscles grow stronger. Right now she is busy bum-shuffling her way through life, arms full of baby dolls and charming everyone she meets. Prader-Willi Syndrome results from a random deletion on chromosome 15. There are a host of physical, learning and behaviour difficulties resulting from this deletion, but nowhere have I read about the Princess Gene.
As an infant with severe hypotonia Little Miss Adorable could barely move her muscles, but she preferred looking at pretty clothes, interesting patterns and jewellery. Little Miss Adorable would undertake incredible efforts to reach out and touch someone’s earrings or necklace. Some would make a case for nature and state that environmental factors and gender role socialization resulted in Little Miss Adorable’s very stereotypically female behaviour. But I think she has the Princess Gene.
Now as a toddler most of Little Miss Adorable’s play involves ‘getting ready to go out’ or taking care of baby dolls or saying goodbye to baby dolls. She puts on her jacket, puts her Minnie Mouse cell phone into her purse, hoists her purse on her shoulder and directs us on how to take care of her babies. She then waves goodbye to her baby dolls and bum-shuffles away. I know where that came from. Little Miss Adorable has obviously watched me do this hundreds of times.
What’s really funny is when she holds her Minnie Mouse phone up to her ear while ‘writing’ on her Magic Slate aka her ‘laptop’. This is clearly learned behaviour, and Little Miss Adorable is an exceptional mimic. She even copies her toddler program teacher by holding ‘circle time’ for her baby dolls. This is clear case for ‘nurture’ or environment shaping a person’s behaviour. This is learned behaviour.
People who debate the role of ‘nature‘ – the DNA you are born with – versus ‘nurture‘ – how you are raised will say that BOTH are important in child development, and you cannot clearly separate one from the other. I say those folks overlooked the Princess Gene. We tried to raise Little Miss Adorable in a very gender neutral, non-traditional environment. It didn’t work – the Princess Gene took over.
I have no idea where Little Miss Adorable developed her strong fashion sense or dramatic flair. We don’t own a TV, so it’s not the media. As a stay at home mom my ‘dress up’ involves clean, washable clothes for playing with the kids and running errands. I am regularly seen in public in my pyjamas. I wear comfy shoes that support my orthotics. I often leave the house wearing slippers or flip-flops. Make up is something that the kids play with. There is clearly no glamour here.
When Little Miss Adorable was a newborn I tried to dress her in neutrals, but somehow pink snuck in. I resisted initially, complaining about drowning in a sea of pink when well-wishers bought countless little pink outfits. As the laundry piled up and I ran out of clean clothes for her I gave up, and started dressing her in pink. Then I argued that it improved her complexion. I tried offering just gender-neutral toys. My son’s cars, trains and trucks were strewn across the floor. Little Miss Adorable found the one lonely baby doll in our home. Little Miss Adorable cuddled that baby doll, wrapping it in a blanket, chatting to it. One baby doll led to a half dozen. Little Miss Adorable found a pink tutu in the dress-up clothes. She wore it endlessly. It’s as though there is something deep inside of her that is drawn to girly stuff. I call it the Princess Gene.
The biggest tantrums in Little Miss Adorable’s two-year old life have been around clothes – sparkly tiaras in the store, pink glitter shoes, sparkly pants that she absolutely had to have. She cries with delight when entering a large shopping mall, “Yay! Clothes” and coos, “Oh, look at all the pretty clothes” and points to the mannequins, “Oh, look at that!” I need to tell you that Little Miss Adorable is a two-year old with a serious speech impairment riding in a stroller. Little Miss Adorable regularly sees a Speech-Language Pathologist. It looks like the ‘shopping’ part of her vocabulary is active.
The day our community preschool centre organized a yard clean-up for Earth Day Little Miss Adorable refused to be put on the ground. She said the grass ‘hurt.’ She went boneless and limp, and demanded to see the teacher.
The teacher explained, “Little Miss Adorable, we’re picking up garbage today and we will help the earth.”
Little Miss Adorable said, “Home.” The adults were shocked, Little Miss Adorable was insistent. We went home. Clearly not enough glamour here for the Princess Gene.
Recently our preschool centre had a talent show – imagine 30 preschoolers, toddlers and babies singing and dancing on stage. Even Little Miss Adorable’s baby brother was on stage in a jolly jumper, kicking and bouncing away. I was also on stage, sitting behind a row of dancing preschoolers. I was there to corral preschoolers and to hold onto Little Miss Adorable. I was worried she’d get stepped on by dancing preschoolers or even fall off the stage.
While everyone danced, Little Miss Adorable managed to bum-shuffle out of my grasp. She shuffled through dancing preschoolers to the front of the stage. I tried to grab her and pull her back.
She yelled, “No!” and kept scooting away from me. I was blocked by dancing preschoolers. Little Miss Adorable squeezed past the preschoolers and made her way to front and centre stage. She waved at her adoring audience. Alone at centre stage, she performed all the dance moves while sitting on her bottom.
Little Miss Adorable is clearly destined for the spotlight. She can’t walk, but she can dance. She has the Princess Gene.
Revised June 15, 2012.