Fairy Tales and Happy Endings
Caroline’s favorite movie is Disney’s The Princess and the Frog. Consequently, I have seen it at least 85 hundred million times. Low estimate.
Whenever I watch fairy tales with my daughter, as a single mother, I have to stop and think, is this really what I want her to learn? That her happiness in life hangs on finding some elusive prince who will whisk her away to her happily ever after? That her happy ending is completely dependent on someone else?
The happy ending is always mysterious, of course. Those movies always end with the wedding. No one wants to see the years of marriage, where the prince maybe gets distant and the princess maybe gets bored and they both start to wonder whether they should have dated for more than a couple of minutes on the dance floor before committing to a lifetime of mediocrity with someone they hardly knew. (I’m just sayin’.)
I think I would prefer that she learn to be a strong and self-sufficient woman, who will maybe find a partner (male or female) who is right for her and with whom she can live a happy and fulfilled life. But if she never finds that person, her life will be just as joyous and complete. Where’s the fairy tale for that?
I suppose that one of the reasons I ended my marriage and decided to raise her on my own is so that I could be that fairy tale. So that I could show her that it is possible, even desirable, to go it alone. Certainly that it is preferable to a partnership that is not healthy. Disney doesn’t have any examples of that, as far as I know. If I want her to learn it, I am going to have to be the one to show her.
But for now, I let her have her fairy tales. We watch the movies. I read the stories to her before bed. Because there is a certain magic to them, after all. If only it were as easy as a cute guy finding your missing shoe. If only you could stumble upon some hairy beast who turns out to be a total hottie with a sweet mansion. Part of childhood is believing in magic and picture-perfect happy endings. I’d like her to learn to be a strong and independent woman, but at the same time, I don’t want to ruin the fairy tale.
Hopefully someday, I will figure out how to teach her that whatever path she chooses in life, if she is fulfilled, then that is her happy ending.