What are we raised to believe? All fairy tales, children’s stories, teachers and parents lull you into a sensation that anything is possible, with regards to our human future that is. That if you work hard enough, give yourself direction and a sprinkling of magic fairy dust, that life is meant to be just peachy! Beyond the castles and wicked witches lies a life of sunshine dappled contentedness in the arms of a steely white knight. The gallant heroes do exist, truly. I found mine, although his gallant steed resembles a ten year old battered green fiesta. Which is actually mine. Regardless, he is there by my side, handsome and courageous, but with a magic mirror reflecting the reality to which we are desperately trying to avoid.
As any little girl, I have been under the misapprehension that the magic kiss in the end is all that is needed to endure a long life of whimsical fancy. It may, and in my case has, brought prince charming into my world but I still feel like I am languishing in Rapunzel’s tower. For what all these wondrous fairy tales don’t tell us perpetual pink clad little girls, is that the mess created by the exploding dragon or tragically deposed super-villain, needs to be rectified by YOU and you alone. No one sticks around in Sleeping Beauty to clean up the melted mess that is Maleficent’s oozing destruction – it magically vanishes. Who cleaned out the oven after Hansel and Gretel so callously destroyed an old lady? And only Roald Dahl hinted at the fact that Little Red might now sport a wolf skin coat. No, the tragic fall out of any fairytale is conveniently swept under the rug.
These stories teach little children to be a little guarded, yes, but by the end of the last page to be filled with optimism that dreams really do come true. But these illusions, in reality dangle like fragile, dew heavy gossamer threads. One drip too many and the seemingly strong structure comes crashing to the ground – making everyone soggy in the process. These tales do not teach of backbone or the ability to ‘stand up’ for oneself but merely rely on the ingenuity of others to come to the rescue. In fact, Red had it closest in my mind, being ultra wary of the wolf and realising something was desperately wrong. However, she did nothing about it but merely sauntered around the edges of danger waiting for the woodcutter to come along. By which time, it was all too late for dearest Granny. Had Red challenged the stalking long before, had she not led the Big Bad Wolf towards Grandma’s cottage, nobody would have needed to scrub the wooden floor boards with bleach to remove the stench of wolf guts. In short, a big old mess would have been averted.
I understand why children’s stories have to end with optimism and joy, otherwise we might all be on Prozac by the age of five. But these illusions can hold so strong that even a sensible, reasonably intelligent thirty year old can still hide her head in the sand and wait for it all to go away. As if in a magic puff. But by not looking, someone is going to sneak upon you, either to gobble up or poison or wreak some other nonsensical misplaced idea of revenge upon you. Fairy tale books don’t teach girls to be strong. They teach them to wait. And look pretty. Well not this little girl, not any more. Waiting creates one huge pile up of mess and I am off to find a magic broom to clean it all up. And perhaps some blusher along the way!