Monday, December 8, 2003

Tales of the Nursery

It is an irrefutable law of nature that all three of one's children will wait until their father is out of town on a two week business trip to collectively fall ill. However, Nature does occasionally have a sense of humor.

I was getting ready to bathe one of the twins, we'll call him Pirate, when the phone rang today. The adorable little angel recently bipedal, destruction machine escaped and re-appeared a minute or two later (don't ask) with his sister's gossamer angel wings on his back. There was Pirate, with his tousled brown hair, mischievious grin, flashing eyes, fat little bare-naked baby arms and thighs...waddling around with a pair of wings on his back. Quite the woodland sprite from 'A Midsummer Night's Dream,' he looked very Puck-ish indeed.

Later in the morning, Pirate was napping (they seem to be switching off lately) and I was sitting down, holding the somewhat sleeping, thus angelic, other twin. We'll call him Blondie. He was pressed against me, with his feverish baby warmth, the gentle rise and fall of his chest with every breath, his moist cheek and the tendrils of corn silk baby hair against my skin. The babysitter was playing the Fiona Apple song "Fast As You Can."

I may be soft in your palm but I'll soon grow
Hungry for a fight , and I will not let you win

My pretty mouth will frame the phrases that will
Disprove your faith in man
So if you catch me trying to find my way into your
Heart from under your skin
-Fast as you can, baby scratch me out, free yourself
Fast as you can

Strange lullaby for a baby boy. He did not seem to notice or mind.

Then I read to my four-year old daughter. She's a true devotee of the "Get them while they're young" marketing empire aka Disney. If you had a girl, it might be hard to escape the impact of the Disney Princess franchise. I have to say the messaging has its uses, especially in the deportment department "Would a princess pick her nose in the middle of the family portrait for her cousin's baptism?" Although, if you want the really useful parental propaganda, the unadulterated German folk tales are your best bet there..."Know what happens to little boys and girls who nag? They get taken into the forest by their parents and abandoned."

Back to the princesses, my daughter has a book devoted to the folklore purchasing opportunities associated with each member of the Royal Harem: Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Belle (Beauty from 'Beauty and the Beast'), Ariel (the Little Mermaid) and Jasmine (Aladdin's girlfriend). I'm sure Tina Fey would commend their efforts in the diversity department. They've branched out, they really have. They added a few more brunettes, then there's Ariel, the feisty red-head, and Jasmine, the Arabian princess. That's not what was bothering me, it was the sugar-coated, cutesy, cloying nature of the princesses and the stories. Something was missing.

Then it came to me. Where was the realism, where were the Princesses of Monaco? I bet that would make for some entertaining bedtime reading. "Now boys and girls, here we come to the part where Princess Stephanie interviews the royal bodyguards...," fast forward a few years down the road "And then Princess Stephanie had a couple of different children with different princes. Well, actually they weren't really princes and she didn't marry them. You see, you don't actually have to get married to have children. And you don't have to get married if you just want to play with boys. But then, Princess Stephanie got tired of those men and decided she wanted a married man. Only he wasn't married to her. He was married to another woman. She decided she wanted him anyway. She ran off and lived with him at his circus. She took her children with her and they learned to be circus performers. Doesn't that sound like fun boys and girls?"

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