What if a “princess” was looking for the “real prince” (the opposite version of the original story)?
How was the “real prince” supposed to react to the green pea under all those mattresses? What would have been the measure to his real prince-hood?
The real prince in Andersen’s story was supposed to recognise the real princess by something special. And that special thing was that she felt uncomfortable sleeping over a little green pea which was under at least a dozen mattresses. And if it was a real prince to be recognised? Did he, too, have to complain about the lump in his bed? Or, did he have to brave it and say that he could have easily slept on pebbles?
What do you think about classic fairytales? What do they teach our children?
I find some quite scary – I mean, what’s with Jack in the Box. Others are clearly political, like The King’s New Clothes.
If, according to The Princess and the Pea, the modern-day “real” lady was supposed to grumble about a pea under her umpteenth mattress, then, wouldn’t that make her a snotty brat? Do fairytales have a shelf life? How should I teach my kids about interpreting the classic stories?
One could even accuse fairytales of stereotyping. Take The Princes and the Pea again. If we expect to have all “real” girls so sensitive, isn’t that stereotyping?
What would you teach your children about stereotyping? What are they supposed to expect from other males and females? Are we reading fairytales to put our kids to sleep, to scare them, or to install in them certain gender roles? What is your interpretation of Sleeping Beauty and The Little Mermaid?
I read tonnes of stories to my kids. My eldest – nearly 3 – is now asking so many questions. And I realise one thing. In this time of his life, he is not bothered about stereotyping, gender portrayals, and connotative meanings. He learns that houses are made of cookie dough. He hears about a flying carpet and that enriches his visualisation and fantasy. The fairytales teach him to imagine. He then takes these stories to his play, to his own world, to his own happiness. And maybe it’s all the reading a cause of his ability to play so well on his own – undisturbed, focused, passionate – just by using a plastic cup and my kitchen ladle. Maybe that’s the whole point of fairytales. And that’s what makes them with eternal shelf life.
A lesson from my kids: don’t dig too deep into things.
It’s a fairytale, take it at that and close your eyes.