Today as I drove from a meeting to the office I listened to Ontario Today on CBC Radio; a favourite phone in show; with host Rita Celli. Today's topic was "Are we too politically correct for our kids?" It was a lively debate over the stories we all grew up with: Little Red Riding Hood; 'Twas the Night Before Christmas etc. with the familiar authors and fairy tales we read as children, being critically examined and discussed.
I agreed with the caller who didn't censor or sanitize the stories or classics, but read them with her children and used the opportunities that occurred for discussion. I was an avid reader of fairy tales as a child, who graduated to Greek mythology, science fiction and then a phase of loving horror stories--everything I could lay my hands on, in fact. I'm not afraid of the written word and believe that you can trust children with more discernment than we give them credit for--but I do respect the views of those who are protective of young minds.
It was an interesting discussion, but I laughed out loud when the person on the show with Rita Celli said that while we might debate the political correctness of Little Red Riding Hood and the "horror" of the wolf eating the grandmother, the point of this story and many others is to imprint a point on the child's mind. In the case of that story, it is to "stay on the path," and not to talk to strangers.
My laughter came as I thought of Mum, who made up her own story to imprint "staying on the path" for Rob and me. It was the story of a little pixie whose mummy told him to stay in the garden. He looked over the fence and saw some lovely flowers and thought that he would just pick a few for his mummy. Of course, there were always more flowers, just further and further on, and soon the little pixie had wandered far into a forest, and was hopelessly lost. He sat down under a tree and cried and cried. Just then he heard a sound. "Vroom! Vroom!" coming closer and closer. He looked up and saw, high up above him, a big giant, looking down on him. The giant, who turned out to be a gentle soul, stooped down, scooped him up in his big hand and when the little pixie told him his woeful story of being lost, he put him in his shirt pocket, from where he was able to look down and see the way home. Then "Vroom! Vroom!" he carried him back through the forest back to his house.
The little pixie man's mummy was so happy to see him, that she made the giant a great big apple pie, in the biggest thing she could find in her kitchen. The giant loved the pie so much! The giant and the pixie family became lifetime friends.
And I'm wondering...was that how I was imprinted with the compulsion to bake apple pie!? The "staying on the path" part didn't work so well at the time. :)