Dressing up as a princess

Anna Jefferson

Anna Jefferson

First published in Women Actually

Life changes when you have a baby, as Anna Jefferson knows only too well. With a two-year-old daughter, the Brighton-based writer gave birth to her second child recently. Anna tells us all about the ace parts, the embarrassments and the bits of motherhood people never tell you about...

It doesn’t matter how much you spend on organic, ethically sourced, gender-neutral toys for your children. They will always prefer to play with the cheap, plastic rubbish, or ‘bin fodder’ as my friend affectionately refers to it.

Same goes with clothes.

My daughter has tonnes of beautiful stuff. I literally mean boxes of it. I’m not showing off. I am, by my own admission, a middle-of-the-night-whilst-breastfeeding-eBay-obsessive, so she was always going to do well out of that.

But, when given the choice of either wearing a pair of gorgeous BNWT Boden dungarees or a Disney-style princess outfit in luminous pink with gothic black netting, that was bought from a jumble sale for 20p, is at least one size too small and looks like a dog has had a good go at it, there is, of course, no competition.

This has been her outfit of choice for the last few weeks.

And that’s how we rocked up to a campsite over the bank holiday weekend. She squeezed it over her normal clothes on an absolute scorcher of a day, so was completely roasting.

Her other favourite thing at the moment is finding ‘special treats’ wherever we go.

These ‘treats’ can vary from leaves to snails to discarded receipts.

So imagine her absolute joy when, as we were pitching the tent, she found a bottle of acid blue, glow-in-the-dark nail varnish.

She’d already buddied up with a bunch of older girls on the site, who had been over several times to introduce her to a variety of dogs, so we assumed one of them must have dropped it.

Having been briefed that she had to return it to its owner, our daughter marched off around the campsite clutching the nail varnish, asking all the girls if it belonged to them. Which it didn’t.

So she claimed it as her own and began, without any encouragement or prior experience, painting her toe nails with the concentration of a surgeon.

I have spent the first two and a half years of my daughter’s short life making a right fuss that children should be whatever they want, can wear whatever colours they like, can play with pretend kitchens or power tools, that it’s their choice.

But for now it turns out my daughter couldn’t be happier than when she’s sitting off in a field dressed as a princess, painting her toe nails with nicked nail varnish.

I think the real punch in the tits came when a fellow camper walked past and said to me: “It’s so lovely when you can dress them up like that. Give it a year or two and she won’t let you.”

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