Happily Ever After?
Today my wife and two year old daughter came home with Barbie of Swan Lake,
and my daughter was quite insistent that I watch it with her. At
this age, I like to tell her happy stories, for you might as well get an
optimistic outlook before reality sets in. It is a good thing that
all of our stories and movies for children have this same perspective.
However, it was not always this way.
A quick perusal through a copy of the fairy tales compiled by the
Grimm brothers or a translation of the stories that make up
the Arabian Nights will inform you that the stories we use to tell
did not always end nicely, most were rated PG-13 for violence and the phrase,
"happily ever after" is a most modern invention.
Oh, and where is that spell-breaking kiss? Oh, here it is, the
Little Briar Rose… Oh wait, the prince shows up a hundred years later
and she would have woken up anyway … even without that stolen kiss.
But you know the routine… The little mermaid dies after her prince
marries another. The tailor is still circling the globe. The
Pied Piper actually stole the children of Hameln. And yeah, Odette,
the Swan Queen, dies when the prince declares his love to the illusion.
Some things, despite our best intentions and our love, don't work out the
way we want. Why inundate with a message that if you just found true love--
the handsome prince on a white charger-- all would be well. Sometimes love
has a crooked chin.
Now not all stories end tragically, nor should they. Life is all about ups
and downs. But at some point, I'm going to have to tell her some stories
that are-- well, more true to life. For I don't want her to have false
expectations, and I certainly don't want her to think that her first kiss
is true love's kiss and that because of that, she'll live happily ever after.
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