I have two preschool-aged sons. Let’s just say that princess culture isn’t exactly their thing.
“That’s for girls!” my 5-year-old said with indignation when a family friend asked him if he liked the Disney animated series "Sofia the First" as it played at our home. (Granted, my son was initially watching "Spider-Man" or some other boy-approved program before our friend stopped by, but, despite his protests, Blake was just as captivated when we switched to the princess program.)
But even the anti-princess preschool crowd isn’t immune from Royal Wedding fever. It started when we were in the car and Blake overheard the radio announcer mention that a woman would be “getting married” and become a “princess.”
"Who's the princess?" he asked. “Who’s getting married?”
I told him the princess was an American woman who used to be on TV and that she was marrying a prince in England.
"Wait, is that actually real?" he asked.
As any parent of a 5-year-old knows, one question leads to another. And another. And about 1,000 more after that. I saw an opportunity to use the royal nuptials to continue his budding interest in other countries, cultures and history — maybe this would be the beginning of creating a curious, thoughtful global citizen.
While he didn’t care much about Prince Harry or the soon-to-be Princess Meghan Markle (or whatever royal title she’ll hold after the wedding), he devoured TV coverage about the Royal Wedding.
He marveled at the unfamiliar sights of double-decker buses, red telephone booths and other distinctly British trademarks. He’d already seen cartoon images of Great Britain in some of his favorite movies – "Cars 2," "Sherlock Gnomes" – so seeing that they were “real” was even more exciting.
During the Winter Olympics, he loved the Parade of Nations and I showed him where each country was located on a map. This time we found the United Kingdom on the globe and told him how he’d have to travel in an airplane across the Atlantic Ocean to get there.
'They talk regular, but sound different!' he said about a British announcer.
“They talk regular, but sound different!” he said about a British announcer.
That led to a discussion about languages and accents. I told him that “regular” to him meant the English language, but there were many different languages that people spoke across the world. I reminded him of his friends from school who spoke Spanish and Chinese, and how those languages were regular to them. Then there were people who used English like him, but just with a different accent.
Ever curious, he wanted to know why we spoke differently in the United States. I managed to roll early American history, the Revolutionary War, George Washington (“He’s the president!”) and Fourth of July into a two-minute lesson that hopefully made sense to a soon-to-be kindergartner.
He still rolls his eyes a little when I tell him we’ll be watching the Royal Wedding on May 19 and seeing an American girl become a real princess. (He insists he still doesn’t like princesses.) But I bet his eyes will be glued to the screen Saturday morning.
Just the other night he asked me before bed: “Mom, can we go to England?”
I’m ready for our cross-Atlantic road trip in a few years. I’ll thank Meghan and Harry for that.
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