These photos have been on my hard drive for a month now, waiting for me to become inspired to write something thoughtful, witty or insightful about them.  Clearly, that's not going to happen.  You get what you pay for, folks.

A friend emailed me a few weeks ago and asked if my girls wanted to go with her girls to attend a Pretty Pretty Princess Makeup Party And Dinner Out To Firmly Link Self-Esteem To Clothes And Physical Alterations. 

Pretty sure she didn't actually call it that.  

And that she used a little bit less sarcasm.

I'm never sure how I feel about these Club Libby Lu-type parties. On one hand, I think it's fine for little girls to have fun and pretend and play dress up.  On the other hand I can't stand the message they send.  Not that I sit around being a feminazi all the time.  I shave my legs.  I wear dresses when the occasion warrants. But I was never your basic girly-girl either.  I didn't really like dolls as a kid, much to my mother's chagrin.  I put up with them because my friends had Barbies, but truthfully, the only dolls I was really interested in were green army men.  Barbies just sit around looking pretty and don't do much of anything, but green army men can be tied to a rock and sunk to the bottom of a pool, they can be buried in the sand box and get lost in the jungle, and you can even set them on fire and watch them melt, which is pretty darn cool.

Perhaps there should have been fewer dolls and more psychological evaluations in my past.

I think it's fine to be interested in Disney Princesses and lacy dresses and makeup... it's never been me, per se, but I also don't think my girls need to grow up as a carbon copy of me either. The Shortlings like the Disney princess thing and although I personally hate it, parenthood is full of a lot of things I hate but that come with the territory:  toys that make noise, going to parks with playgrounds, changing diapers on the tail gate of a station wagon...  Acknowledging the influence of the princess franchise on my girls is one of those things.  Making sure it isn't the all-encompassing focus in their lives is another.  I'll make my peace with a happy medium.  I guess that's why, when my friend invited us to her dinner out with several of my girls' friends from church, I said we'd go even though it wasn't going to be my favorite day out ever. They'd get to spend some time with other kids and providing opportunities like that is one of my weaknesses as a parent.

The evening started out with hair and makeup at someone's home and then was supposed to move on to dinner at The Cheescake Factory, where you cannot make a reservation, where the organizers of this night out learned as they approached the door that there is a five hour wait for a table of twelve to fifteen on Saturdays, where I lost The Caterpillar in the chaos for a good fifteen minutes and briefly considered calling the cops before I finally found her, where I recovered from my minor heart attack and guilt trip, and where everyone sat around trying to find a good restaurant alternative and the best thing they could come up with was the Olive Garden.  Imma leave those details out because they are too painful and just share the photos with you.

Love this one. I call it: Abject Envy
She finally got her chance, however, and couldn't have been happier.
Something tells me this one will see her share of spa days in her lifetime.
The Caterpillar was a little more reticent about the whole experience.
But could never be left out of something her big sister does.
This one is a PSA about blue eye shadow: just don't let this happen to you.
I was put on lip gloss duty.  It was really the only thing I was qualified to do.
The Caterpillar and her friend.  I love them both with all my heart, but they look like dolls in a Chucky film.
Those two on the left remind me of the twins from The Shining:
"Come and play with us... for ever, and ever, and ever."

They had a nice time despite all the issues, which, if I'm being honest, were mostly my issues. I'm glad I let them be a part of it.  But I'm also glad that things like this aren't the only things my girls are interested in doing.  The Dormouse is currently taking karate lessons and couldn't be any more excited about that than she was about this evening.  She is thrilled to learn new things at school.  When we ask her what she wants to be when she grows up she changes her mind a lot.  She no longer says she wants to become a toothpaste engineer, but "marry a prince and become a princess" is never one of them either, despite recent fairy tale weddings.  The Caterpillar is a little more abstract with her career aspirations, "I want to be a ladybug doctor."

I want my girls to grow up developing their interests, to have varied talents and abilities.  I want them to have fun and fall in love and enjoy being girls and dance all night but I also want them to value themselves for what they do and who they are, not what they look like.  I want them to take charge of their own lives and not wait around for someone to hand them happiness.  I want them to make their own happiness. Mostly, I want them to do what Clementine Paddleford said,

"Never grow a wishbone, Daughter, where your backbone ought to be."