Saturday, April 30, 2011

Fairy Tale

"I'm glad we don't have daughters," I said into my cell phone as I put the car in drive.

"Why," came the response?

There is a shop next to my son's preschool that sells blankets, among other things. Blankets with sports logos. Jolly Roger blankets. Princess blankets. On this particular day, flapping in the hideous wind that I will never get used to but which Utah insists on flaunting, was a fuzzy Tangled blanket. Rapunzel stared at me and a quote drifted lazily around her impressive load of hair. "The path to your destiny lies within the magic of your heart."

Say what now? I asked my husband what that could possibly even mean. If someone has an answer I'd really love to hear it because, frankly, I don't understand the bit about the magic in your heart. And I really don't get how I might conjure up this magic to get my feet on the path to my appropriate destiny.

So while I'm certain that, on occasion, I will miss having tea parties and playing Barbies and while I know that I'll miss pedicures and wedding dress shopping, I am incredibly thankful that I won't have to deal with the whole "princess" hullabaloo. I'm glad I won't have to explain that there isn't deep magic dwelling inside the hearts of any royalty deprived daughters of mine.

Cartoon fairy tales paint a picture of love that is insanely artificial. They idealize courtship and end with an, "And they lived happily ever after." Don't get me wrong, I love a good cartoon romance, I just don't think they prepare our children (especially our little girls) for marriage. The romance is great. The wedding, stunning. The ending, abrupt. And they sail/ride/frolic into the sunset to live in wedded bliss. Fairy tales certainly don't teach our kids to beware of sobering divorce statistics. They don't fast forward twelve years and depict a haggard mom chasing three filthy children around in a pair of old, white, Hanes Her Way underwear because someone just spilled grape juice on her only clean pair of pants. They don't show Prince Charming wary from years of public appearances and attempts at cutting through all the governmental red tape so that he can finally get something accomplished in the kingdom. We don't teach our children that marriage is only wonderful and amazing and unicorns dancing on gumdrops when we work at it. We teach them, instead, that their glorious destiny can be unlocked by using the magic in their hearts. We teach them that when the going gets tough, it's time to seek a new future. We teach them that anything short of a fairytale is unworthy.

And I certainly don't need any help from all the fake, cartoon Prince Charmings out there with their sparking teeth, their shiny black hair and their excellent equestrian skills. I'm going to have enough trouble teaching my sons to actually be the real thing. The real Prince Charming.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church—for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” -Ephesians 5:25-31

Deep down, I think we all want the fairytale. It's why I'd dreamed myself into Kate's place so many years ago. It's why I longed for the dresses, the tiaras, the grandeur. It's why I watched pieces of footage from the royal wedding this afternoon and thought about how very, very lovely she is...

How very, very normal they seemed despite the very, very abnormal pageantry surrounding their union. How Harry turned to watch her coming down the aisle and the look crossed his face that screamed, "My sister-in-law is straight up hot!" and then he mumbled something to that effect in the general direction of his brother and how I really would have expected nothing less. How William stared into her eyes and, for a moment, looked nothing like a Prince and everything like a smitten groom about to bumble his way through ever after. Sometimes happily. Sometimes tragically. Sometimes routinely.

We can get the fairytale. It just doesn't exist in the courting. It doesn't exist in the wedding. It's in the bumbling through. It's the way you look at the prince and know exactly what he's thinking. It's in the forging of a life together. It is in oneness, in open and honest love that withstands the storms, in communication and forgiveness. While the fairytale often begins with the white dress, the fireworks, the first kiss, it thrives on the comfort of the arms that hold it in a continued embrace. And I think, perhaps, the fairytale gets up in the morning and puts on a pair of old, white underwear.

And I simply wouldn't know where to start if I had to teach that to a daughter. Boys, I suspect, care less about the royalty in the first place. But what a challenge it will be to teach them to lead. What a challenge it will be to teach them how to bumble through.


  1. Fantastic post Lori! I can't help but smile at the beauty and magic of the royal wedding, but it's not the truth. It's not what marriage is about. And it's certainly not what we should be teaching our children to expect. I'm hoping against hope that my daughter will look to her parents as a better example of marriage than her princess movies. :)

  2. You and I were channeling similar sentiments yesterday. Of course, you expressed you point way more clearly than I did. :) When I need to explain to A.J. why it's okay to watch and enjoy those Disney movies but not okay to get all obsessed, maybe I'll have her call you.

  3. Agreed. I have two little girls. The princess thing is not anything I introduced them to. But I think in some way it is built in to them. They are fascinated. I've let them watch a couple of Disney movies and I am more convinced that those will be the last ones they watch.
    My husband, who is a pastor, wants to focus that feeling of "happily ever after" to their relationship with Jesus, the Groom. I think that can happen, but at 4 years old, that's a hard concept to grasp.
    For me, it's the slapstick violence and the oversexualization of characters targeted to 3+ year olds that is disturbing. Beauty and the Beast alone has two women that might as well be wearing Playboy Bunny costumes and a candlestick chasing a feather duster for the very clear reason of seducing her. The whole thing is peppered men punching each other in various "funny" ways. Really? For the toddler set?
    Anyway! Thanks for letting me vent. Glad you posted about this. Totally relevant.

  4. I think that slogan is totally dumb. It sounds like something a Scientologist would say. I went to an acting seminar that I didn't realize was a Scientologist run event and they had us watch a crazy indoctrination video that made really random statements like that, just stuff that makes no sense whatsoever. Although they did also say walking out of the room and not joining Scientology would be like shooting yourself in the face with a shotgun. I'm not even joking.

    Anyhow, totally dumb slogan. But I'm not all that worried about the princess stuff with Tabitha.

  5. Being the mother of three daughters and one son (all but one daughter are married), I can say teaching our son to be a godly knight and our daughters what to really expect in marriage has been, and continues to be, something we are very conscious of. The whole Disney princess thing is way out of control.