Once upon a time, I was a princess — for a day.
Three hours, if you want to be exact. But still, how many people can even say that?
This past Sunday, I was Princess Aurora (better known as Sleeping Beauty), for a six-year-old’s birthday party. Little Princess Hannah usually has a live character sent “all the way from Disney World” to her extravagant birthday parties. Last year, my friend Brittany was Snow White so this year, when Hannah wanted a different princess, I was lucky enough to get the job. (I say that in all seriousness, because as you’ll see, this was a great fairytale).
My day as a princess began when I put on my pink, Aurora dress and gold tiara in my castle (home) and journeyed (in my Honda Accord) to the birthday girl’s house, which is in a wealthy neighborhood in my town. I parked around the block, where I met my horse and carriage. Yep, that’s right.
I only wish this princess was allowed to take pictures because the things I saw today were straight out of a fairytale. Luckily I found a picture of Ribbon, the horse pulling my carriage, online. When she isn’t giving rides to princesses, Ribbon chariots “peons” in the “provincial,” neighboring town of Chagrin Falls.
But today, with blue streaks in her mane and tail, Ribbon was ready to give rides to pint-sized royalty. While Hannah and her guests waited in the front yard, Ribbon (guided by the carriage driver) and I trotted down the street to Hannah’s castle (no stretch in the details there). Hannah’s hands flew up to her mouth and her eyes widened in shock as she registered who I was. Her blonde curls bounced up and down as she waved vigorously in her matching Sleeping Beauty dress.
The carriage pulled up the circular driveway in front of the house and stopped. “Happy Birthday Princess Hannah!” I said while giving my best princess wave. Hannah’s mother then decided it was time for all of the guests to go on carriage rides. As I posed for pictures, kids shyly climbed up, seemingly nervous in the presence of a princess.
But what does a princess say to a bunch of kids who keep getting her confused with Cinderella? “Yes I came all the way from Disney world on this carriage.” “Yes I live in a castle.” “Yes, I wear this dress every day, but no, it doesn’t get dirty.” “Have you seen my movie?” “I don’t have bangs because my hair has grown since I was in the movie!” “No, I’m not Cinderella. She rode in a pumpkin, remember?”
I took twelve carriage rides in all, each of which consisted of pulling out of the driveway, riding around a cul de sac and pulling back up the driveway. Each of the twenty kids at the party got multiple turns, even though they started to admit they were “bored” after a while.
Luckily for them, Hannah’s mom booked nearly every entertainer in the city to keep them occupied. After the carriage rides, I followed Hannah into her backyard, where a feast fit for a king was set up under a pink and white tent. In a somewhat Disney World-like fashion, I ate lunch with the kids and sat next to Princess Hannah (who was seated appropriately at the head of a plastic, folding table). The kids had a wide selection to choose from — macaroni and cheese, burgers, hot dogs, chicken kabobs, ribs, cheesy potatoes, veggies and fruit.
During lunch Hannah decided that she was too hot in her princess dress and took it off in front of everyone (there are still some things this young Princess has to learn). She changed into her Disney princess bathing suit and her friends followed her to a giant inflatable water slide that emptied into a little pool.
Besides getting airbrush tattoos and jumping on a trampoline, the kids had their own private magic show. But these weren’t just any magicians — this was “Shizzle Dizzle,” composed of Mystical Matthew and the Great Nancini, a mother-son team. Yep, it’s as awkward as it sounds. So awkward that even the kids started leaving slowly and running back to the inflatable slide to make their own disappearing acts.
After sitting through the 45-minute magic show and more than 20 minutes of uncomfortable, sarcastic comments from “Mystical Matthew” about how no one was watching and the kids were in the pool, it was finally over.
After, the kids got in line to get balloon animals from none other than Mystical Matthew’s dad. One little boy got a bumblebee and kept making it sting me. So that was nice.
Then it was time for cake, the elaborate “Cake Boss” looking princess castle that no picture I googled could even resemble (this one is close though). I stood next to Hannah as she blew out her candles. It was in this time that the moment that made everything worth it happened.
Before Hannah blew out her candles, we stood alone in front of her massive cake as her relatives ran around looking for candles. She looked at me and said “Can I ask you something?”
“Sure, princess!” I smiled.
“Well, a lot of my friends don’t think princesses are real.”
“Why?” I gasped! “I’m real and I’m here.”
“I know…” she said. “I don’t believe them. But they make fun of me for thinking they’re real, and I just don’t get why that’s bad.”
“It’s never bad to be a princess, Hannah,” I told her. “Princesses are nice to all of their friends, even if they don’t understand their friends all the time. I can tell you’re a great friend and a wonderful princess. And that’s what’s important, being nice and caring to others.”
“Thank you,” she smiled. “Thank you SO MUCH for coming!”
For as “spoiled” as she may be, Hannah is a sweet little girl. Sure, she has everything, but she never complained when her little friends stuck their faces near the candles to blow them out or ate candy off of her plate when they could’ve just as easily reached into bowls on the table. She said “thank you for coming” to everyone who arrived and spent time with all of the kids who were there.
Our goodbye was quick, as Hannah had to leave the pool to say goodbye and was anxious to get back. I apologized for leaving, saying I had to go take a nap before I could go back to Disney World. We shared a wet hug, then Hannah scampered back to the pool in her Disney princess bathing suit.
I had to return the dress before I left, so I slunk out to my car and changed, then snuck in to return the dress to Hannah’s mom. She thanked me again for coming, but I honestly felt as though it was me who should be thanking her. I had a great time holding hands with “little princesses,” listening to their random stories and making up tales of my own. And as one of the featured entertainers, I like to think I was part of the reason why Hannah had such a great birthday.
Sure mother-son magicians are “mystical,” and an inflatable pool is great on an 82 degree day, but I hope that one day “grown up” Hannah remembers Sleeping Beauty’s advice — to be nice and caring to others, even if the goodness comes after a much deserved naptime.