My four-and-a-half year old jumps into my lap her glittery purple princess crown sliding down over twinkling eyes.
"Oh sweetie, it's Friday. I still have to get the guest room ready, and I really have to be in the right head space to tell you that story."
"Oh, please, please tell it to me Mommy. PLEASE!"
My beautiful princess gazes into my tired eyes, hers filled with trust and anticipation.
She doesn't know that the story I am about to tell her is true.
It's a story that happened to me, and to many other Jewish girls, princesses all of us.
It's a story I need her to know for her own safety. I guess I can stand to take a break.
My princess and I settle into our comfy old blue leather couch.
"Once upon a time there was a beautiful little princess. She lived in a palace with her father the king and her mother the queen. She had sisters who were also princesses and brothers who were princes. The princess was a good girl and a kind girl. She cared about others feelings. She went to school every day and had a teacher who loved her, and who she loved, just like you do!
Now the princess had a big problem and she didn't know what to do...Maybe you and I can help her find a good solution.
Her father the king sometimes did things to her and the other princesses that she knew were not OK. Things that a king shouldn't do, and usually doesn't do."
"What did he do Mommy?"
"He did things that were not tzanuah (modest). He touched the princesses in private places."
"A king wouldn't do that, Mommy!"
"That's exactly what the queen said when the princess told her! She said,
"The king would never do such a thing!"
"The princess didn't know what to do! She loved the King and didn't want to hurt his feelings. But she did want him to stop touching her. She tried to tell her sisters but they wouldn't listen to her either. The princess knew that her sisters knew the truth, but they were too embarrassed and ashamed to admit it. What should the princess do to help herself and her family? Should she keep it a secret? Should she tell her teacher?"
My daughter knows the answer.
How can she not? I'm her mother.
"She should tell! Even if she's embarrassed, she should tell!"
"Well, that is just what the princess did! She told her teacher. Her teacher hugged her and said,
"I am so proud of you for telling me! You are a very brave girl!"
But then the teacher got serious. "Is the King doing these things to anyone else?"
"Yes." The princess said. "My sisters. My friends...and to my brother the Prince."
"Guess what the teacher said? "
My daughter knows this answer as well.
"She has to tell!"
"Yes. You are so smart! As smart as the princess in the story."
The teacher indeed said,
"You have to tell! You have to yell from the roof of the castle until people listen and stop him."
The princess shook her head.
"But, I'm embarrassed. And, the king and the queen won't let me live in the castle any more if I tell everyone. They will be so angry with me. They will say it's not true! Where will I live?"
The teacher gazed firmly and lovingly into the brave princess's eyes. "If that happens then you will live with me. I will love you and take care of you forever and ever. "
Well, that is just what happened.
The princess yelled from the rooftop of the castle about the king and his terrible touching problem. The king and the queen were very angry and embarrassed, and insisted that it wasn't true. They commanded that the princess leave the castle. Many people in the kingdom were upset too. They thought the princess must be wrong. They said, "The king would never do such a thing!"
The princess was sad and scared but she knew just what to do. She went to her teacher who loved her, believed her, and protected her. The teacher made a party to celebrate the princesses bravery and invited all of her friends from school. She made her a special dress and crown that was befitting such a brave and courageous princess."
For my four-year-old this happens to be the most important part of the story.
"Tell me more about the dress and crown that she wore at the party!"
Her dress was splendid. It was white with gold threads and real diamonds and pearls woven into it. It had pink glittery gauze covering the whole thing. the dress sparkled in the light. When the princess spun around her special dress twirled and swirled with her. Her crown was made out of gold and was engraved with the words, "A Real Princess Inside and Out."
Now comes the million dollar question.
"If you were the princess do you think you would tell like she did?"
"Of COURSE I would!"
I hope so.