fairytales and lessons


Last night’s dinner conversation…

R1, my 6 year old preppie, told us that Wednesday is her favourite day of the week because that’s when Xavier goes to after school care- just to be with R1.  Last weekend, Xavier’s mum told me it’s costing her a fortune for Xavier’s ‘playdates’.

So of course, maturely I start teasing her..R1 and Xavier sitting in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g, first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes R1 with the baby carriage.  Her little brother, 4 year old R2, never one to miss a teasing session, especially one obviously endorsed by his mum, joins in with his own refrains.  ‘R1 and R2 sitting in a tree….’

It has been his lifelong desire to marry his sister.  Though sometimes in quiet confidance he does admit that they can just live together when they grow up and not get married.

All of this makes me very happy.  Firstly, we are talking and sharing ‘our day’ at the dinner table, rather than R1 trying to play reading eggs on my computer, R2 trying to slay everyone with his knight’s sword, and me, well I have usually finished eating and am doing the dishes by the time they have swallowed their first mouthful.

And secondly, I feel part of a chain of mothers and daughters, passing on my childhood rhymes.

But then. My daughter joins in. ‘Mummy and daddy sitting in a tree…’ I reminded her that in our case it was, ‘first comes mummy with the baby carriage, then came marriage, but sadly because it was all in the wrong order, love never came’.

So then the conversation became a lesson.  I consciously have ‘teaching moments’. I have a strong need to imprint some of my moral code on my children as they have so many other teachers and carers in their lives. I want them to feel about the world a little like I do, I guess.

So, the lesson was, that for true happiness, things must happen in the right order.

But this made me feel uneasy. Since they were small, while other people played eye spy on car trips, we played the ‘families game’.  R1, what type of families are there? A mum and a dad in one house, a mum in one house and a dad in another house, 2 mums in one house, a mum, a cat and a grandma in one house and no dad, etc etc. And I tried to make each scenario seem equally as valid a family structure.  Because I knew that they would start to see the differences between their homes and others.

In that case, so why should love come first, then marriage, then the ‘wife’ with the baby carriage????  Is that not another fairytale – what little girls dream of for their future happiness? Is it right to teach them about doing things ‘the right way’? After all, even after love, marriage and a baby carriage, there can still be affairs, alcoholism, legal fees, homeless shelters and divorce.


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