"Never grow a wishbone, daughter, where your backbone ought to be." -Clementine Paddleford
We watch a lot of movies at my house. It's unfortunate, I know, but they really are family affairs, curled up on the couch all together in this massive dogpile, talking and chatting our way through the flick. I've been amazed at how many lessons we were able to teach using the shows that my family enjoys. Gollum was the introduction into the dangers of addiction. Dr. Who and Sweettown showed us greed. Then, there was Buttercup.
Ah, Buttercup, the female lead in the delightful classic "The Princess Bride." She drives me nuts. In a land of "hello, my name is Inigo Montoya," "Iocaine, I'd stake my life on it," and the rest we have the only significant female character. Of course, my daughter fell in love with her instantly. With the amazing dresses and that incredible sheaf of hair, why wouldn't she? Then I noticed something. She started getting bossy. More than that, she started playing at helplessness. She wouldn't get things for herself, wouldn't play, would just sit and watch and give orders. Granted, this is a consistent problem considering both her background and her mobility issues, but it became extreme. Finally, it had to be addressed. Being the extremely sensitive and tender mother that I am, I of course approached it with delicacy and tact. "Hey," I said, "why are you being so bossy lately?" "Well that's how Buttercup acted when she loved Wesley." Oh.
So, we sat down again to watch the movie that night, and we talked and the talk went like this. "Honey, don't be a Buttercup. She is bossy, see there, that's not how you love someone. She is naive. See, you must learn from your experiences. She is, well, useless really. See how she acted in the fireswamp? All morose and weepy and hysterical. Look, she got Wesley hurt. Don't be afraid to fight and remember above all you must not panic. And look there, there she just gave up. You never, never give in to despair. Yes she's pretty but honey you must NEVER be a Buttercup. That's not what being a girl is all about."
The next day I was walking through the living room at full speed, carrying a load of laundry and tripping over the kitten. That's when she decided to ask the follow-up question.
"Mommy," she said.
"What is being a woman about then?" Oh. Gosh. Okay. I crossed over to her.
"Being a woman is hard, honey. It's very hard. You have to be independent and know your own mind and be able to defend it, but you have to know how to serve others because nurturing and caring for others is important. And how have to be able to tell when to do which. You have to be strong, and feed your talents, but above all you have to love people with all of your heart and trust in your strength."
That night we watched another movie. The next day I heard my kids playing outside. Suddenly, above all of the voices I heard my daughter's.
"I am NO MAN!" she yelled.
That's my girl.