Nerdy Mom Fall: Five Disney Stories I Can’t Wait To Share With My Toddler
Like a lot of people, I was heavily into Disney as a kid. I enjoyed Mickey and friends, Winnie the Pooh, the Mickey Mouse Club, and of course, the princesses. But then I grew up, got cynical and realized some of those princess stories weren’t examples I wanted to expose my kids to while they were young. I was on this self-righteous kick about how I was going to be strict in controlling the media my daughter sees, and when it came to Disney, I did not want my daughter to pick up the idea that she had to wait for a “prince” to swoop in and save her from anything or that she had to dumb down her voice. Then I got a reality check because you can’t actually control everything your kid sees or picks up when they go out into the world.
My child’s Disney indoctrination started without me. The characters were featured on some of her clothes before she could even talk. Then during a family trip to California last year we visited some friends who have a daughter around my daughter’s age. She was very into Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and watched it as much as she could. My daughter began to watch it with her too, and by the time we got home, all my kid talked about were Mickey and Goofy. I got her stuffed dolls of Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Daisy, Donald, and Pluto. She even had a Mickey Mouse-themed birthday party back in August.
As you can see, I’ve relaxed my Disney stance a bit because you may not always be able to control what your child sees and absorbs, though you can always steer the conversation to make sure they know how certain ideas and concepts relate to who they are. When it comes to Disney, I actually like where the brand is headed in terms of storytelling and concepts, and I look forward to taking the journey with my daughter. Now that she’s three, and more present and able to communicate, I’m excited to introduce her to some of the newer Disney stories and eventually make it to one or some of the theme parks one day. The fact that Disney has merged with Star Wars and Marvel is even more exciting. There’s a lot of work to do to make sure that my daughter’s Disney knowledge is in working shape, and I’m up for the challenge like any nerdy pop-culture fanatic mother would be. Now that my daughter is older, here are five more characters and/or story concepts that I’m excited about introducing her to and how they relate to her personality development.
Princess Tiana is the only chocolate Disney princess. The Princess and the Frog came out when I was an adult and that was a big deal to me. Prior to that point, I had never seen a princess that looked like me and I’m thrilled that my daughter will have more diverse depictions of dark skin for her viewing pleasure. Sure, we still have a long way to go in creating more diversity, but this is a good start. Plus, Tiana’s story is unique. She’s based on Leah Chase, and she wasn’t about being rescued by a prince. She had dreams of starting her own business and did what she needed to do to reach her goals on her own. Meeting and falling in love with Prince Naveen was a lovely bonus, but not a necessity and definitely not tied to her worth or value. I love that.
Moana is a cute story about a young girl who goes on a quest to save her people. She manages to accomplish what she set out to do even when Maui, the demi-god she sought help from, is sometimes little to no help. He gets his act together eventually, but Moana’s bravery sets the tone, carries the journey, and causes Maui to eventually pull through. I love the ideas of bravery and pushing through fear and hope to pass those lessons down.
I grew up reading mostly Marvel Comics, so the idea of going to Disney World and seeing some of my favorite superheroes wandering around is exciting. I am especially excited about introducing my daughter to Ironman and Shuri due to the STEM element (and the fact that my daughter is into cars and how things work), all of Wakanda (she is already aware of the Black Panther but not the other nuances), and eventually, Falcon as the new Captain America.
Stars Wars lore might be a bit long, drawn-out and sophisticated for a three-year-old, but I plan to feed her bits and pieces. She’s already curious about one of my favorite t-shirts, which happens to feature an image of a Storm Trooper holding a boombox. But I’m excited about exposing her to Rey, who was thought to be the last Jedi but eventually uncovered Luke’s existence and is now on a quest to organize new rebels to strike against the dark side.
My daughter is really into space and enjoys Buzz Lightyear. Like I mentioned, the interesting thing about Disney is that sometimes you’ll be familiar with the character before you actually know their story. For a long time, that was the case with Buzz Lightyear for my child. However, we recently watched Toy Story and Toy Story 2, and my hard-to-get-to-sit-still daughter actually paid attention to them so we’ll get through the rest of the films eventually. It’s such an imaginative movie. Who hasn’t thought about what it would be like if their toys had secret lives?
As a parent, I want to encourage my daughter to soar. It’s cliché, but true. Yet if I can do that through entertainment, which is probably more palatable than lectures, then that is what I’m going to do. I’m glad the outdated concept of what princesses should be like is taking a backseat to Tiana, Fancy Nancy, and Shuri, and I look forward to going on a Disney journey for the next generation. I haven’t been to Disney world in almost 20 years, but I can’t wait to pass the torch of a mandatory childhood experience.