A Mother’s Modest Dream

Halloween 2000: The only time my daughter wanted to be a princesse a princess

I’ve always dreamed of a fortuitous personal connection or miraculous stroke of luck that would allow me to publish everything I write. Ideally, I would be in the public eye but one step removed, thereby enjoying the benefits of celebrity without the liabilities.

When my daughter was four, in 1998, the perfect solution popped into my head. If she married Prince Harry when she grew up, I’d be a royal in-law with a sprinkling of stardom – just enough to have editors begging me for something – anything­ ­– to publish. Rejections would be a thing of the past!

Annelise, who is Latina, is both beautiful and intelligent. Once she came of age, Harry would never be able to resist her! All I had to do was get her on board. 

“Just think!” I said one morning, as Annelise sat playing with blocks. “If you marry Prince Harry when you grow up, you’ll be a member of the British royal family!”

Prince Harry was fourteen at the time; I hoped he wasn’t in a hurry. 

“Wouldn’t it be fun to be a duchess and live in a palace?” I added encouragingly.  

Annelise looked up from the block tower she was constructing.

“I don’t want that job,” she said.

I couldn’t believe what she was saying. How did she know what job she wanted? She was four years old. Surely I could talk her into this. 

“You get to meet children from all over the world and go to parties wearing fancy hats with feathers and flowers,” I persisted. 

Of course, back then, no English royal had ever married an American except King Edward VIII, who nearly caused a constitutional crisis in 1936 when he abdicated the throne to marry an American divorcee.  American and divorced – who could imagine such a stain on the British throne?

A writer and prescient mom, of course. (Not that Annelise was divorced, but I was definitely on to something with the American thing.)

Annelise balanced a block confidently on the top of her tower. “I want to be a BFI when I grow up.”

BFI? What the heck was she talking about? Basic flight instructorBig fat idiot?  

“What do you mean, honey?”

“A BFI!  I want to track down crooks and kids napping.”

Oh, FBI. She must have picked that up from tapes of my grandfather’s old-time radio programs I’d been listening to.  

By the time she was thirteen, Annelise was binge watching CSI, Bones, and the X-Files. She was young, though; I still had hopes.

“Imagine riding through cheering crowds in a coach or a Rolls-Royce when you get married!” I said, inwardly picturing my dazzling array of books and bylines.

“I’m going to take my honeymoon in a Ford F-150-pickup,” Annelise replied. 

That was her story, and she stuck to it.  

Annelise is twenty-six now, and studying forensic science in grad school. She texts happily about gunshot residue and blood spatter analysis. I don’t know if she’ll join the FBI, but whatever she does, I’m fairly sure it won’t involve hats with feathers and flowers. Recently she got engaged and her fiancé has – wait for it – a Ford F-150 pickup. 

Like millennials from duchesses to doctors, Annelise is opinionated, feisty, and independent, and I’m good with that. I no longer fantasize about her becoming famous so I can publish a best-selling memoir about how I raised her to think big.  

Lately, though, I’ve been having a reoccurring dream involving massive crowds celebrating in the streets. They are holding red, white, and blue signs with a photo of Annelise and the slogan, “We Did It!”

I try to hear what they’re shouting but I can’t quite make it out.

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