The Princesses and the Pauper. And the Credit Card.

Boo is playing with the big girls now. And it’s scaring the crap out of me.

At the playground the other day, she was actively sought out by two four-year olds who seem well on the road to junior high Queen Beedom. Listen in on this snippet of conversation:

Strange 4-year old, dressed head to toe in pink, addressed to my daughter: “Do you want to play princesses with us?”

Me, at a distance, silently: “Erp.”

Boo: “Yes, indeed.” (Yes, indeed, she really said that. I’m not sure where she gets that particular tic. No, indeed.)

Pink 4-year old: “OK. You need to get a credit card.”

Me, slightly more audibly: “ERP.”

Boo: “OK! Here’s my credit card!”

At that point, Boo picked up a sycamore leaf and brandished it at the two princesses. Before long, they all had autumnal credit cards and were sticking them into various slots on the playground equipment in order to make lavish purchases of jelly beans and pumpernickel. (To Boo, that’s the most royalest word of all, you see.)

What do you say when your precious not-yet-three year old comes over to where you’re pretending to ignore her game and pronounces with a shit-eating grin, “Look daddy, I’ve got a credit card!”?

Answer? You swallow once to buy time.

And then, it turns out, you smile and say, “Yes, you do! How cool is that?” The evils of our consumer lifestyle and the images bombarding our children — let’s worry about those later, OK? This is pretend time, for better or for worse. And what’s really wrong with a game of Princess Credit Card, anyway?

Nothing. Boo smiled proudly and returned to where she and her new friends were preparing pretend dinner — by taking boxes out of the pretend freezer and putting them into the pretend microwave.

Now where on earth could she have learned that?

Oh, right — from her friends!