Now Entering The Age Of Fairy Tales
"Tell me the one after Jack and the Beanstalk," says Gareth after the fourth fairy tale of the night.
"When I'm telling them from memory, there's no set order," I say. "The next one can be any one you want." This is a big deal. Four years of having to cajole him into accepting a new song, new book, new Backyardigans episode or whatever, instead of one he already knows by heart, have worn me down. I hardly know what to do with this sudden insistence on a new addition to the repertoire every night. Thursday, I got halfway through Puss in Boots before I realized I had no idea how it ended. Tonight, I plunged into the Twelve Dancing Princesses, knowing full well I had a gigantic blank spot in the story that I'd have to fake my way through.
Gareth is a friend to princesses everywhere
, and has been practicing to fall in love
for some time, so I shouldn't be surprised that he likes the happily-ever-after stories. They're fascinating puzzles to him. He asks as many questions about courtship as he does about the orphaned and half-orphaned conditions of the protagonists. Stories of bodily transformation sometimes drift right through his filters, and sometimes freak him out completely.
When I got him the Disney Beauty and the Beast
, he loved it right up until the moment when the beast regains his human form. "Stop the video!" Gareth wailed. When he braced himself for the rest of the film and allowed me to get to what I'd thought of as the happy ending, he sobbed the whole way through it. I was totally unprepared, because he'd had no trouble with The Princess and the Frog
"In your version of the story," I assured him, "the beast can stay in his beast form forever." That seemed to help.
He asks for kisses now to break spells. That's what kisses are for.
You should have seen the look on Gareth's face when Dan said, "Yeah, the time that evil sorcerer turned Mommy into a hedgehog, a kiss cleared it right up." He could read Dan's playful tone clearly enough, but for just a moment, he really didn't know what world he was in.