Tears at breakfast are the norm in our house, but they are not often tears of joy. In a whirl of nappies and dishes and smeared cereal, my children and I yesterday watched Julia Gillard elected as the first female Prime Minister of Australia, and I was just a bit teary. For the ascent of Gillard signals death to the Disney Princesses in our house. Whatever else she might be, PM Gillard is a worthy adversary of everything pink.
For months I have been battling the pink brigade's insidious attempts to worm into my daughter's life. Maybe once it was was as easy as turning off the TV, and we do.
But now these simpering 2-D temptresses are everywhere. On drink bottles and biscuits, tissues and t-shirts, backpacks and undies. In the library and at schools, and in bed at night on sheets and pyjamas. You can eat them, drink them, sleep with them and probably wipe a bottom with them.
My girl Em wants to be like a Disney Princess, for who else is there? Bratz, of course, which I will fight to the dolly death. Barbie is more powerful than ever and just as pneumatic, only these days with better outfits - and now a suite of Disney cousins. Traditional fairy tales are slightly better, but only just; the prince still kisses the princess.
Last week in the supermarket Em was fascinated by Hannah Montana on a teen magazine cover - though not, thank goodness, Miley Cyrus showing the world her bikini wax. I'd be happy with a Toy Story character - Buzz or Woody, or even that cowgirl who never gets top billing - or Princess Fiona, but movies scare her.
Books offer some relief, but who is there in the newspapers she inevitably scans every morning? Quentin Bryce, I'm afraid, is simply not enough. And it's hard to explain to a kinder kid why the Queen is not exactly my idea of girls done good.
Of course there's her mum as role model, and I'm working on that. But my ambitions at the moment don't exceed more than four hours sleep a night, and I've left my own run as Prime Minister a little late. There are powerful women everywhere in Australia but they don't yet break through to a four-year old's psyche.
But the Prime Minister - the most important job in the country, our leader - even a toddler can grasp that. So thanks to the Labor Party for giving someone to show my daughter and, if Gillard lasts long enough, my baby son.
Em didn't share my pleasure for long. My tears of joy at Australia's first female PM were soon drowned out by her tears of rage at the cancellation of Play School. May her four-year old priorities last a little longer.
Michelle Gilchrist is editor of www.breakfastpolitics.com
24 June, 2010
Find it on Domain.com.au Need a new place to live?