‘And they live hap­pily ever af­ter’

Fairy tales are a great way to teach chil­dren the dif­fer­ence be­tween right and wrong.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Living - Star2@thes­tar.com.my Cin­derella.

I RE­CENTLY en­coun­tered a young mother who wants to ban fairy tales.

“Such sto­ries are full of harm­ful gen­der stereo­types,” she said. “I don’t want my lit­tle girl grow­ing up with the no­tion that a prince in shin­ing ar­mour will one day whisk her away from a life of drudgery, and all she has to do in re­turn is look beau­ti­ful.”

Some peo­ple seem to be tak­ing po­lit­i­cal cor­rect­ness to an ex­treme. I grew up on fairy tales and not once did I think I would meet a real per­son who would one day res­cue me from my less than per­fect life. I’ve al­ways known that I would have to work hard if I wanted to get on in life.

When my chil­dren were lit­tle, I would read to them ev­ery night be­fore they went to sleep. One of their favourite books, for a while at least, was a com­pi­la­tion of tra­di­tional fairy tales. They en­joyed the strug­gle be­tween good and evil that is at the heart of most fairy tales, prob­a­bly be­cause they knew that the pro­tag­o­nist would even­tu­ally over­come the per­ilous ob­sta­cles that lay ahead and go on to “live hap­pily ever af­ter”.

Fairy tales are a great way to teach chil­dren the dif­fer­ence be­tween right and wrong.

When I first heard the story of Cin­derella, I fell in love with the girl who was kind to every­one. I was happy that her ugly step­sis­ters got what they de­served in the end.

It was the same thing with Snow White and her cruel step­mother, who got her come­up­pance in the last chap­ter.

And what about those poor lit­tle pigs who were ter­rorised by a pork-lov­ing wolf? It’s a good thing that the three brothers stuck by each other and were able, work­ing as a team, to make sure their neme­sis would never huff and puff at any­thing ever again.

You could ar­gue that these tales are all very karma-ish, and don’t re­flect mod­ern day life, where good doesn’t al­ways tri­umph over evil. But you could say the same about most Hol­ly­wood movies and the vast ma­jor­ity of nov­els be­ing sold these days.

So what if there are drag­ons, hand­some princes, evil women and gi­ants lib­er­ally dot­ted over the land­scape of most fairy tales. Such sto­ries also teach chil­dren about the virtues of courage, pa­tience and hu­mil­ity. Plus, they can be a lot of fun, while en­cour­ag­ing chil­dren to read.

As much as my chil­dren loved fairy tales, A scene from Dis­ney’s 2015 block­buster

Chil­dren en­joy the strug­gle be­tween good and evil at the heart of most fairy tales, prob­a­bly be­cause they know the pro­tag­o­nist will over­come all ob­sta­cles. — Hand­out there was one story I couldn’t bring my­self to read to them: Goldilocks And The Three Bears.

When I first read Goldilocks, I was about eight years old. De­spite her de­light­ful ap­pear­ance, I took an in­stant dis­like to her.

“How could she just wan­der into some­one’s house un­in­vited?” I asked my­self, as she en­tered the cot­tage where a fam­ily of bears lived. “Where were her par­ents? Wouldn’t she be missed?”

I was hor­ri­fied when she tasted each of the bowls of por­ridge sit­ting on the ta­ble, fi­nally set­tling for the small bowl and greed­ily de­vour­ing its con­tents.

“Didn’t her par­ents teach her it was wrong to steal?” I won­dered.

Af­ter sit­ting on the small­est chair and break­ing it, I was con­vinced she would run out the door and head for home, but she didn’t. All that por­ridge, along with her fur­ni­ture-break­ing ac­tiv­i­ties, had ob­vi­ously worn the poor thing out, so she did the only thing she could do un­der the cir­cum­stances: went into the bed­room, tested out the beds (as if she were in a fur­ni­ture out­let when the mat­tresses were on spe­cial), chose the one that suited her best and fell fast asleep.

I won’t go into the prob­lems I have with a story that has a lit­tle girl sleep­ing in a stranger’s bed.

When the bears re­turned to find that some­one had been in their house dur­ing their ab­sence, they were most up­set, es­pe­cially the poor baby bear whose por­ridge is gone, not to men­tion his chair ly­ing on the floor like a pile of gi­ant match­sticks.

When they en­ter the bed­room, they see Goldilocks ly­ing on a bed. She wakes up, es­capes by jump­ing out the win­dow and then runs home, where her par­ents are pos­si­bly oc­cu­pied watch­ing re-runs of The Bold And The Beau­ti­ful.

If a bear found you in its home, it would take sev­eral swipes at you, slash­ing you with its sharp claws un­til you looked like a pile of bloody match­sticks. It wouldn’t let you get away un­harmed.

Goldilocks is not a good role model for any­one’s child. Maybe she went on to marry toad and is now liv­ing in a swamp.

Now that’s what I call Karma. Check out Mary on Face­book at www.face­book. com/mary.sch­nei­der.writer

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.