Fairytale Heroes

I love fairytales. I mean I really, really love them, and I’ll readily admit that I LOVE Disney. Sleeping Beauty and Beauty and the Beast were my favorite growing up, and recently Tangled, Frozen, and Brave? (Yes I still watch them as an adult, and go around singing with great exuberance).

October, in my kindergarten school list, is marked as Hero Month. And according to the calendar, Oct. 1st is the Storytelling Festival, so I have made it Fairytale Month for my 2nd Grader.

Everyone should know the classic fairytales, and everyone should see the Disney films… I love showing them to my boys, and this year, after every movie, I asked them, “Who was the hero?” They were confused at first, and hesitantly said, “The Princess?” and I realized that boys are rarely taught about the heroes of fairytales. Fairytales are thought of as girl stories, with heroines, not heroes. But that’s not true. I want my boys to learn about courage, perseverance, bravery in the face of fear and danger, nobility, honor, and true love. So I began to talk about it, starting with Snow White, the first movie we watched…

Me: “Look at how kind those dwarves are… they are opening their home to this poor, scared girl and they are going to protect her. Look at how brave they are when the wicked queen shows up!”
Kindergartner: “Yeah, they are running as fast as they can to try and save her!”
2nd Grader: “Even though she is like a witch, she does bad powerful magic. That’s really brave.”
Me: “What about the prince?”
2nd Grader: “He’s not really the hero. He just shows up.”
Me: “But look at what it says… that when Snow White disappeared, he looked and looked and looked for her for a year. Does that show true love? How long is a year?”
2nd Grader: “But he only talked to her once.”
Me: “They show that in the movie, but he was a prince and she was a princess. Do you think they’ve met before? Do you think they spent some time talking? Would a man look for a year for a girl he didn’t love?”
2nd Grader: “You’re right… he must have been sad and worried when he couldn’t find her! And then he heard about the sleeping girl, and came to see, and it was Snow White… he must have been so sad.”

Right there we got to have a talk about bravery, about helping someone in need, about jealousy and vanity, and about love and perseverance and how love never gives up.

We watched Sleeping Beauty, and, boy, does Prince Phillip show boys what a hero is… when he falls for Aurora, he commits to her completely. He is not so enamored of palace life that he clings to it, but is willing to go from being a prince to a peasant just for her. When Maleficent captures him, you can see his distress at the thought of what’s happened to his love, and when the fairies free him and give him the Sword of Truth and the Shield of Virtue, Phillip does not hesitate to rush to Aurora’s aid. He fights through goblins. He is caught in a forest of thorns (my sons have gone blackberry picking, so they sympathized), and when he finally gets through that he has to fight Maleficent who has turned herself into a great black dragon, using the powers of Hell.

(I would like to point out that this opened a great talk about how Satan will trick us into feeling powerful, or even give power, but that the only true and good power is God’s, and anything else is evil. And with the Sword and the Shield, we were able to talk about God’s Power, how He gives us weapons to fight against wickedness… see the Armor of God.)

Prince Phillip felt fear, felt hopelessness, but he kept fighting and didn’t give up. Ever. And in the end he won, and he woke Aurora up, and they got to live happily ever after.

Fairytales are not just about the Girl or the Princess who must be brave under attack, who must be strong in bad circumstances. They are also about the Men and the Heroes, who don’t give up, who keep fighting. Fairytales are for girls and boys.

It was such a joy watching the light turn on in my boys’ eyes, watching them swell with courage and a desire to be noble and brave. After two weeks it has become second nature now for them to come to me and tell me who the heroes are. My daughter can identify with the princesses (her favorite is Rapunzel), and now my boys have characters they can identify with, too.

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DC – The Prince and Snow White (color) by vanillacoke-disney on DeviantArt

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Prince Phillip by FreeLikeWater on DeviantArt

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Summer, Day 1, 2016

It’s really been about a week of this, but today somehow seemed to hit home for me. The air, the sunshine, getting to leave the door open (with the screen closed, of course, to keep the invading wasps outside where they belong).

Sometimes I struggle with being very global-minded, which means I see the entire picture. Not a detail, not one part, but every single part. It means I am very, very good at multi-tasking and dealing with multiple children, and I can tell you the entirety of a movie or book that I have only seen/read once. It also means that I often get overwhelmed. The house is messy? I see the whole mess: dishes, laundry, toys, socks on the floor, food and crumbs on the dining room floor, shoes all a-scramble by the door, coats and gloves-without-matches creeping their way through my living room, kids clothes that are out of season and suddenly too small needing to be changed over and, of course, my boys can rarely keep the clean and the dirty separate… I mean, who puts clothes in drawers and hampers? So sometimes I just melt down because I see ALL OF IT and it’s all equally important, and I just don’t know what to do.

Then I found my old copies of the Little House books on my shelf, lovingly worn books my mom read to me since I was small that she recently passed on to me, and I pulled down Little House in the Big Woods and started to read.

I don’t know what it is about this book. I love all of the books; really, really love them, but there is something about Big Woods that just zones me. Something about Ma and Pa going about daily life, methodical and intentional and simple and happy, refocuses me and helps me look at my own house and see what to do. Suddenly everything wasn’t a mess around me, and by reading a little bit each day I receive a daily dose of Focus and I do the dishes, I make the meals, I sweep the floors, the kids do chores and school… and guys, I am getting extra done. My counters got cleaned off of the miscellaneous stacks that pile up (a result of my youngest now knowing how to walk and growing tall enough to catch things off the table and pull them off onto himself). I de-caned, fertilized, and mulched our patch of baby raspberries. I cleaned out the rhubarb patch. I planned my garden. I finished my book… honestly, I don’t know what happened. Where did this energy come from? Where did my time come from? But I swear that every time I read Big Woods it re-centers me and this miracle happens again and again. I think, in part, it helps me focus on today. I mean, God tells us we’re not supposed to worry about tomorrow. He tells us to just think about today, and it’s so easy for anyone but for a global-brained person it is especially easy to succumb to worry and becoming overwhelmed. And I realized that I don’t have to get it all done today, I just have to get a piece done. Who cares what that piece is; whatever I do, it’s one more thing than I had gotten done before. Hoorah!!!!

We put up the hummingbird feeder today. My kids did their chores, ate a good breakfast, my 1st grader did his school and my preschooler watched his science video, and then out they went into the warm sunshine to play and I got the entire Mount Everest pile of laundry on my futon folded, made a batch of hummingbird syrup, and while that cooled I and the kids marched down to Sackett Man’s shed and found the rain gauge, a piece of garden decor, and the humming bird feeder. We put up the rain gauge, stuck the garden decor in the ground attractively, and the kids crowded around in fascination as mother hung almost upside down on the shepherd’s crook that the feeder hangs decorously from.

You may laugh, but that thing is a beast to force into the ground. I leaped on it, hung from it, planted my feet and grabbed it and heaved, red-faced and sweating, till FINALLY that pointed end sank into the ground deeply enough to be stable.

Then they cheered, I grinned through the pain of pulled muscles, and then they crowded around and watched as I lifted the small sauce pan of syrup and poured it into the feeder, and screwed it shut. I hung it up, and we watched the glass and syrup glitter in the sunlight, and then we went inside for a cool drink and supper.

Now it’s bathtime, and the boys are laughing and playing upstairs while I bathe my daughter. And I feel so good and so happy.

Thank you, Ma Ingalls. Thank you, God.