Cinderfella: A Rant

Okay. So I saw this video on Facebook. And of course, instead of just moving on, I got all worked up about it.

It’s a parody of “Cinderella.” They tell a two-minute story called “Cinderfella,” in which an innocent orphan (boy) is abused by his stepfather and ugly stepbrothers, is granted a new suit and a pair of glass loafers by his fairy godfather, and wins the heart of the fair princess by means of his rare shoe size. It’s absurd, and adequately points out how absurd the original Cinderella story is.

And up to this point, I think it’s fine. It’s actually rather clever. But then it goes on a feminist rant about how we share stupid stories with our girls, about girls doing stupid things that don’t matter, and how we would never read a story like that to our boys. Of course we wouldn’t. We don’t want them to grow up stupid.

But, of course, since we do read stupid stories to our daughters, that means that we expect them to be stupid. It’s sexist. Fairy tales are sexist, the video argues, and our girls deserve better.

First, let’s talk about the idea that we don’t read stupid stories to our boys. Have you ever read a “Caillou” book? If you have, I rest my case.

If you haven’t, count your lucky stars.

I’ll go back to the Cinderella logic. It’ll make the argument more cohesive, anyway. Cinderella is a classic fairy tale, found in the Grimms’ Fairy Tales collection. Now, the brothers Grimm weren’t out to create any great literature. They didn’t write the stories. They collected them—and not even for literary reasons. They just wanted to know how far German culture extended, and asking old grandmothers to tell stories was the easiest way to tell how far the same stories had spread.

I digress. The point is, Cinderella is a Grimm story. And so is “Hans in Luck,” “Hans Married,” “Strong Hans,” “Foolish Hans,” and “Hans Files His Income Taxes With a Late Exception Because He Was Singing Down a Well and Forgot When the Due Date Was.” Hans, as a character, is apparently a German legend. And he was so stupid, bland, and irrelevant to the story that he didn’t even get an interesting name. I mean, at least “Cinderella” is distinguishable from the next-door neighbor.

So no, we don’t just tell stupid stories to our daughters. We tell stupid stories to all of our children, gender aside. And why do we do that?

Ask a child to tell you a story sometime. If they’re old enough to make one up, it’s probably going to be stupid. They’re kids. Their concerns are equally spread around being lost, left behind, unloved, and losing jelly beans. And they’ll probably include all those things in a poorly-constructed fairy tale about a turtle named Bob. (Or Hans, perhaps.)

Now sit down and write your own story. Was it brilliant? Probably not. Was it adequate? … Probably for bedtime. Maybe. These stories were told, spur-of-the-moment, by the fire, usually by an elderly woman trying to entertain small children with short attention spans. No wonder they include shiny objects (like glass slippers,) magical beings, and gaping plot holes.

If you want higher entertainment for your kids, I don’t blame you. But stop complaining about old German folklore, and go write something better. ♦

Parents are Basically Just Tall Children.

Parenting really brings out the immaturity in a person.

My son is 2. He’s learning stuff in leaps and bounds. (Actually, one of the things he’s learning is how to leap and bound.) And I’m trying to keep up. One of the things I’ve noticed over the past few weeks is that me and my husband Ethan are actually pretty good at this. Parenting, for the most part, seems to come naturally to us.

This is probably because neither of us has properly acted our age since we were toddlers ourselves.

For one of our first dates, we went to the Provo library and sat in the children’s section, reading books. We laughed so hard at Dr. De Soto Goes to Africa that I actually peed myself. This was when I realized I liked Ethan.

Last night, we were up late dancing around the kitchen, having a funny-face contest, and making nachos. We had to make the nachos. I had three ripe avocados. I mean, what else were we going to do with an entire pint of guacamole? And of course, we had to do the dance. It’s the nacho dance.

This morning, I keep finding myself lingering as I walk past my dresser. The thing I’m lingering on is a little booklet that Ethan brought home the other day from work. He found it in a used book, being used as a bookmark, I suppose. It’s a few pages of temporary tattoos. Wild animal tattoos. I keep telling myself to save them for when John wakes up—but that rhino just looks so cool.

I usually finish the Dr. Seuss books, even after John has lost interest and wandered off.

We were going to watch a movie last night, but then decided John wasn’t being good enough to sit still for an hour and a half. I’m still a little disappointed I didn’t get to watch Tarzan.

My best form of flirting is to just kick my husband and then say, “Hey, I like you.” So far, he seems alright with this. As long as I don’t kick too hard.

I realized the other day that there’s really nothing stopping me from having hot chocolate for breakfast. I’ve had nearly 2 quarts of Abuelita this week.

Basically, what I’m saying is that if you’re good with children, there’s a decent chance it’s because you’re a child. ♦

The Halloween Tree

The Halloween Tree

If you haven’t read The Halloween Tree, go to your library right now and pick up a copy. This is a children’s classic, a Halloween classic, and an all-around great story.

Ray Bradbury is best known for two things: great science fiction and Fahrenheit 451, which nearly every American has to read at some point in public school. Ironically, I think it’s one of my least favorite Bradbury works; I absolutely love nearly everything else he’s written, but I think his writing style is more suited to poetic, nostalgic works like Dandelion Wine.

And The Halloween Tree, of course. The Halloween Tree is an old favorite of mine about a group of trick-or-treaters who have to save their friend Pipkin – the rip-roaringest, girl-hatingest, frog-catchingest boy who ever lived – from Death Himself. And while the group of costumed boys follow the mysterious Mr. Moundshroud on a chase through time, they have to face Halloween in all its most ancient forms, from ancient Egypt to Greece to the English druids. The story is breathtaking, and the writing makes you ache for the smell of raw, carved pumpkins and the dying grass beneath your feet.

Do yourself a favor this Halloween and pick this one up. And if you’re looking for more Bradbury after that, pick up some of his scary short stories or a copy of Something Wicked This Way Comes. You will not be disappointed. ♥

In Local News, I’m 6 Years Old

I had a birthday last month. Twenty-six. I turned twenty-six. Not six, I promise. Twenty-six.

Jurassic World came out on my birthday, and I can’t tell you how excited I was. When Ethan asked what I wanted for my birthday, I told him I wanted dinosaurs and Funfetti frosting. And a cake, I guess – because the Funfetti had to go somewhere. So that’s what we did. We went to the movies, and I picked up a little souvenir poster and freaked out about it until the movie started. Then I freaked out about the movie. I kept squeezing Ethan’s hand and just grinning at him. Oh, dinosaurs. There were so many dinosaurs!

Then the next day, I made a cake with Funfetti frosting and little fishy sprinkles. We shared with friends, and the frosting – which more closely resembled blue Play-Doh than real food – turned our tongues blue. We competed for the bluest tongue. I felt like a little kid again.

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Then earlier this week, I got a smallish package in the mail. Oh, good! I thought. That free book I won on Goodreads.

Nope. It was a postcard from the Trix rabbit. I filled out a “Happy Birthday” postcard for the Trix rabbit a few months ago, because I found it on a cereal box, and I thought the Trix rabbit really ought to have a good birthday. Plus, it said he’d send me free stuff.

And he did! He sent me a note, a red spoon, and three temporary tattoos. I’m currently sporting one of them. I did not mention, in my postcard, that I am in my mid-twenties. I figure the Trix rabbit probably doesn’t judge, anyway. ♥

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From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

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E.L. Konigsburg’s From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler is a childhood classic and a Newbery Medal award winner. It’s a classic tale of growing up and coming to know yourself, with a little adventure.

I found this book pleasantly dated: it’s a story about a boy and girl running away from home to live in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC. And maybe it’s the history geek in me, but I just kept thinking, “Wow, inflation has skyrocketed since then!” The book took me back to the late 60s, a time when I wasn’t even alive, let alone reading, but the book itself still appeals easily. The cost of living is different: the internal struggle is not.

The book follows Claudia Kincaid as she faces the “injustices” of her family life: taking out the trash every Saturday, taking care of her little brother Kevin, and getting by on a small allowance, for a few examples. She runs away, thinking she’s looking to teach her family a lesson, but slowly realizes she’s looking for more than that: she’s looking for some way to be different from everyone else. Along the way, she and her brother Jamie unravel the secret of a statue of an angel, supposedly carved by Michelangelo.

While this isn’t an action-packed book, it’s a good, lighthearted adventure story, and it’s friendly for all ages. I recommend it to kids and adults alike. ♦

Another One for Freud

So, the other night, I was wandering through my dreams in an unmarked white van.

I filled the back of the van with about a dozen happy Labrador puppies. This way, I could attract children.

I found neighborhood children and lured them into the van, where they could watch movies and play with puppies.

The end-goal of my nefarious scheme: turn the children into ducks!

Muah ha hahaha!

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The BFG

Okay, okay. If I’m trying to read more books than Ethan this year, it’s probably cheating to read all these children’s books. But you know… they’re great books. So whatever.

BFG

The BFG is a children’s chapter-book by Roald Dahl. If you’re not familiar with him, he’s the same author who wrote James and the Giant Peach and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. (If anyone actually says, “they made a book out of the movies?” I’m going to hunt you down and slap you in the face with a paperback.)

The BFG is about a Big Friendly Giant (hence, the acronym), an orphan named Sophie, and nine rather Unfriendly Giants. Sophie spots the BFG blowing dreams into children’s windows in the night, and is kidnapped to keep her from telling the world about the existence of giants. While in the land of giants, she encounters such unfriendly giants as the Bloodbottler, the Maidmasher, and the Fleshlumpeater. She also has an unpleasant encounter with snozzcumbers, the world’s most repulsive vegetable. Sophie teams up with the BFG to stop these giants and their child-eating ways once and for all, enlisting the help of ropes, chains, helicopters, the Queen of England, and an enormous breakfast. It’s a great book, it’s a childhood classic, and it’s a short read – so if you’re looking to get the edge in a reading competition (cough), Roald Dahl is the way to go. ♦