Princess For A Day

Last month, while playing on the Ipad, my daughter came across an email I received that was advertising an “Ice Princess Party.” A local spa for girls was hosting this event that included an evening of makeup, dancing, pizza, and most importantly, a chance to spend two hours with Anna and Elsa from the movie “Frozen.” Immediately it was something my daughter knew she had to attend. After all, it was a chance to meet the “REAL ELSA!” This was too good to be true! However, given her track record with anything loud and overstimulating (and what could be more overstimulating than dozens of little girls shrieking to “Let It Go?!?!”) I was unsure about whether or not she would be able to handle this. But I decided to take her lead and get her the ticket.  I have never seen her so excited and I only hoped that the excitement she was feeling about attending the event would override how overstimulating the actual event might be.

For the next month, I couldn’t stop thinking about this Ice Princess Party. Some days I’d be positive and think that there was no way she wouldn’t absolutely enjoy it. Other days I was a nervous wreck thinking about all the other times in the past she has taken the initiative to try something new only to have the experience overcome her. And those times, when she has tried and didn’t succeed, are the most heartbreaking ones for me. The crushing look of disappointment on her face when she tells me she needs to leave somewhere…the way she’ll stand in the doorway someplace watching kids her age enjoy something she knows she should be enjoying….that, to me, is worse than watching her meltdown and completely fall apart. When she has a full blown sensory meltdown, it’s almost like an out of body experience for her. She is not present, she is not in the moment. She is just completely consumed by her overstimulation. By the time the meltdown ends, she is usually removed from the situation that triggered it so it’s hard for her to connect with what happened. So yes, she may remember that bowling caused her to completely fall apart and prevent her from wanting to do it again but, because of how she disconnects during the meltdown, she doesn’t feel a sense of disappointment in herself. However, when she has to consciously remove herself from something, I can see in her face that she feels like a failure. And no matter how many times I can tell her how brave she is or how proud of her I am for trying, she will always disagree. Knowing how important this princess event was for her, I couldn’t help but worry about how disappointed she would be in herself if it wasn’t everything she thought it would be.




So finally the big day arrived. We didn’t talk much about it and I didn’t hype it up. In the past I have tried to talk about how great things are going to be only to realize that doing so puts pressure on her to enjoy something she might not. So the day went on just as it normally would and, when the time came, she got her gown on and off we went. When we arrived there was not a single parking spot left so I had to leave the car running and usher her in quickly so she didn’t miss anything. I finally made it inside just as the music went on and the princesses came out. I held my breath, waiting for the usual but subtle signs of tension and distress. Instead what unfolded before me was pure magic! Out came Anna and Elsa and there was my little princess up on her heels waving to them excitedly. The next two hours were nothing short of perfection and I watched from a distance with tears in my eyes as my daughter enjoyed this party with her favorite princesses just as any little girl her age should. No stress, no worry..only joy! Throughout the night she’d give me a wave or run over to me screaming, “I can’t believe Elsa just did my make up!” She walked the runway, sat on a throne and smiled the biggest smile I have ever seen while she had her picture taken. She danced, she waited on line patiently to get her hair braided to match Elsa. Not a pout, not a protest and not a tear. When it came time for the sing a long, she sang with all her heart and soul. And it was in that moment, as I saw her clutching her microphone and singing “Let It Go” with everything she had in her, that I realized that her positive experiences overwhelm her with the same intensity that the negative experiences do. Being oversensitive doesn’t define her life by preventing her from participating in things we might expect that she should. It does limit her to enjoying fewer things than other kids her age but it makes those few things she does enjoy so much more special. So for every movie we don’t get to see or party we decline there is an experience like last night that leaves a lasting and positive impression on her. Ten years from now she won’t remember that she never went to a party at Chuck E. Cheese or a concert but I can almost guarantee that being a princess for a day is going to be something that she never forgets!

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