I learned something new Wednesday night.
The Kidling has an amazing book from which she has been choosing the vast majority of her bedtime stories. As a recent reward (for good behavior. The Family wholly supports bribery), Alice wanted a book “about dragons that is even longer than The King’s Stilts.” I thought we were certainly doomed, but our fantastic local book store delivered: a rather long tome filled with a dozen rather long tales.
Wednesday Alice chose an adaptation of Excalibur. I read it to her and then we snuggled up for what I thought would be a typical bedtime cuddle. Oh, how wrong I was.
Alice: (with tears in her eyes) Mom, I am sad.
The Mama: Why, sweetie?
Alice: Because of that story. Because of what you said.
The Mama: Which part?
Alice: Because he had to leave his parents.
The Mama: I know. It is really sad. The thing is, Alice, parents will do anything to protect their children. The King was afraid someone would hurt Arthur, so he had to protect him.
Alice: But I’m sad he had to leave.
The Mama: It is terrible, Alice. I think losing a child would be the worst thing in the entire world. But good grown-ups will do anything to protect a child.
Alice: Even give them away?
The Mama: (thinks: oh shit!) (says: something I cannot recall exactly, but I can recall it did not assuage her fears.)
When I went downstairs to debrief The Dada, he mentioned his own story-telling technique. You see, in this particular anthology, someone always dies, is seriously wounded, is abandoned by a parent, is trapped in a cave, is— Well, you get the picture. The Dada, wise soul who he is, told me that he pauses the story when they get to the gruesome sections and asks, “Alice, you know this is pretend, right?” To which our darling daughter replies, “I know. It’s a miff.”
Several lessons here:
- Don’t read terrifying stories before bedtime;
- Sometimes less is more when talking about genuinely horrible things;
- The Dada can be damn smart; and
- My little 4.5-year-old is an expert in miffology.
I think I love her.