7 Quick Takes

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—1—

Well, Wednesday I got to catch some glimpses of the newest Bettinelli. (Sadly, Dom had to stay home with the napping kids and so didn’t get to share in the excitement.) Now we know that we’re expecting a second little boy. I am so excited that Ben’s going to have a little brother! For the first time, though, we are absolutely at a loss when it comes to names. For each of the other three by the time we got to the ultrasound we’d already had names picked out so we were able to start calling the baby by name from that point on. Still, I’m sure eventually just the right name will match itself to our little guy.

Sorry I don’t include the ultrasound shots; but I haven’t been able to scan them yet.

—2—

Everyone had a bit of a cold last week and this week. For the kids it mainly seemed to mean runny noses and a bit of extra whine. It knocked me down though for a couple of days. I’d almost have thought mine was the result of the flu shot I got last week except that the kids runny noses started two days before I got my flu shot and my illness started with nasal congestion and a scratchy throat.

—3—

We spotted a new bird at the feeder twice this week. A song sparrow… I think. Definitely not one of the house sparrows we’re used to seeing at our feeder.  Anyone want to confirm or correct my identification? Please.

It was a small fuzzy ball with a streaky stripey breast. The first time, it flew away before I got the camera. The second time I managed to get a few shots, none of them great.

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—4—

The other night Bella, looking at the cover of The Pickwick Papers, proclaimed: “This makes me serious.”

—5—

In addition to the pantry moths, we have also been infested with houseflies this summer. They have been just terrible. Dozens of them buzzing about the house at all times, landing on me and making me flinch when I’m trying to read. Swarming on the computers especially. Why is that? They are driving me absolutely crazy. And I want a flyswatter! Why don’t they sell flyswatters in stores anymore? I can’t find one anywhere.

—6—

On Sunday afternoon I snapped this series of Ben drinking milk and watching football

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—7—

Finally, last but certainly not the least, rather last because they are some of the most important things on my mind right now: Please join me as I pray for my dear friend Kate, who has written so eloquently and heartbreakingly about the loss of her baby, just a day after she found out she was expecting.

Also I am joining Abby in giving thanks to God for baby Tess’ return home.

Join Jennifer at Conversion Diary for more quick takes.

 

23 Responses to 7 Quick Takes

  1. Domenico Bettinelli October 3, 2010 at 9:44 am #

    Not everyone in this house is anti-Disney, ahem. (Stop rolling your eyes, Melanie.) But I do agree on the “Disney princess” thing.

    I would posit the corollary, as well, which is that it is good to encourage boys to aspire to knighthood, as long as one instills in them the true Christian chivalric ideals, similar to those Regina Doman once shared.

  2. Katherine October 3, 2010 at 8:44 am #

    I think there is something natural in little girls liking the idea of being a princess. Even the Scriptures uphold the image, as you point out, but I’d also mention Psalm 45.

    You know, when kids are little, we give them little rewards for even the simplest things. Like M&Ms; for using the potty correctly. As they get older though, it is important they learn that they aren’t going to get treats for finishing a day’s worth of high school homework any more than they will for using the potty correctly once they have learned it. When children are little, making the connections between what they are supposed to do and what it is good to do is important and we reiterate that in ways they can understand, in M&Ms; or outings or such.

    Likewise, I don’t think dressing up as a princess and pretending to go to the ball as a 4 year old is bad. It is a simple understanding of being a princess that they can understand. When they are older it likewise becomes important for them to understand that “her rainment threaded with gold” in the eyes of God means her clothes are simple in glorifying God through her chastity and her “embroidered apparel” in which she is led to the king may be her good deeds that only He can see and her humility that looks so beautiful to her King.

    As you say, at their baptisms, girls become princesses, and that is reality. And small children still struggle to always remember to share or not grab, so I think it makes sense that they relish their role as a princess to the extent they are able. It is as they get older, if their understanding of they royal vocation does not mature as they do, that is when I would be worried.

    BTW, you know we do have Disney in the house. My girls play dress up of Cinderella, Snow White, Tiana and Belle because I think all of those princesses have very admirable qualities. I refuse to let them dress up as Ariel or Jasmine for numerous reasons including the bare mid-drifts. I understand you aren’t fond of Disney in your house. As you say, we each have do what is best for our families. But I just wanted to say, even with Disney in our home, all things in moderation. smile

  3. Dad October 3, 2010 at 2:43 am #

    I will bring the book She by Robert Johnson.  Basic human psychology in involved here.  Psyche, Aphrodite.  Of course scripture puts this in perspective.  But the growth of a healthy personality is involved here.

  4. The Sojourner October 3, 2010 at 5:10 am #

    As a 20-year-old who just dressed up as a princess for my university’s St. Francis Festival, I enjoyed this post. smile

    Last Halloween, wearing the same costume, I joked that it was the first time I’d ever dressed up as a saint—after all, my two patronesses are both queens! (Megan=Margaret, and Elizabeth of Hungary. I was happy they both got a mention above.)

    I do like some Disney movies, though Ariel is REALLY obnoxious. My only real rule so far for my potential children is that their movies can’t make me feel like my brain is liquifying and leaking out my ears. Some Disney movies (such as the Princess and the Frog, which somebody alluded to above), don’t do that, so for now I haven’t blacklisted them. We’ll see what happens when my potential children become actual children.

  5. PC October 3, 2010 at 6:34 am #

    So interesting to read this post.  I am not a fan of the “princess” culture, or Disney, for that matter.  If I had daughters, I’d discourage “princess” play as much as possible (which would of course make them want it even more so!).  I think the princess mindset also plays into what is sometimes referred to as the “Industrial Wedding Complex,” i.e., expensive weddings, bridezillas, the engagement ring worth 2 months’ salary, and so on.  I also wouldn’t let them play with Barbie dolls, but that’s another story.

  6. Katherine October 4, 2010 at 8:46 am #

    I had one thought while sorting laundry I thought I would share.

    Clearly Melanie and Dom did not grow up with the same experience of Disney. I think it shows great wisdom on Melanie’s part that if, as she put it, she has a “hard time untwining them from what I see as the negative aspects of the phenomenon” that she avoid it altogether. It occurred to me that we do the same thing with regards to Santa Claus. Because of my experience growing up with Santa, I have a “hard time untwining” him from what I see as the “negative aspects of the phenomenon” and so we avoid him a great deal treating him no different than Frosty the Snowman or Mary, Mary Quite Contrary. (I’d ignore him completely but culture doesn’t really grant me that option.) (Also, I think mine is more a matter of phobia than wisdom) But just as it doesn’t mean either method is superior to the other, what matters is each family knowing what is best for them. For me, any “real belief” or highlighted use of Santa is too much. For Melanie, any emphasis that a Disney Princess is to be celebrated is too much. Both are fictional, both have positives and potential abuses. We just have different comfort levels with each.

  7. Renee October 3, 2010 at 9:06 am #

    Ah, I remember those years well.  When my older girls were little, I had very similar views.  They did love dressings as princesses, and we are big fans of fairy tales ~ real ones, not the Disney versions.  I spent much time discussing those fairy tales with them, what virtues and vices were shown in those tales, both in the princesses and the princes that ultimately come into the story.  Through the years I have lessened my vigilance, mostly just through wearing down, but the culture was set in our home, and Disney princess have next to no presence here. 

    We did celebrate All Saints Day, and the girls invariably chose queens when they were little.  But they did learn about the saint and what made her a good queen.

    I was more concerned with them understanding what made a good PRINCE, truth be told, as I wanted them to look for virtue in men, realistic, sacrificial love, and not fairy tale romance.  So far, as my girls enter the age this is more timely, I see a discernment in them that makes me happy.  We have far to go yet, but starting the conversation young is an excellent, excellent thing to do. 

  8. Melanie Bettinelli October 3, 2010 at 9:14 am #

    Katherine, Thanks for the comment. I was sure you’d chime in as I know you do Disney and dress up. While it’s not my thing certainly, I try not to look down my nose at those who do embrace the positive aspects of Disney princess—all my nieces have been Disney princess fans.

    I have a hard time untwining them from what I see as the negative aspects of the phenomenon; but understand that others may come to a different conclusion and find their own balance that works for them.

    Sojourner, Two great saints! What fun. I’ll confess my favorite Halloween costume of all time was my freshman year at UD when I dressed up as Ophelia in a long trailing green satin dress with a wreath of wildflowers in my hair. Dressing up in pretty dresses is fun!

    It is funny how actual children do change some of your preconceptions. Also, as Calah mentioned in her blog post, how much a marriage is a partnership in which one sometimes finds oneself pulled in unexpected directions. A husband brings his own likes and dislikes and preconceptions to the table and those can really influence your parenting decisions as well.

    PC,
    I hadn’t thought of the connection with the over the top wedding craze, but I think you’re right that the one feeds the other.

  9. Melanie Bettinelli October 3, 2010 at 9:17 am #

    Renee, Great point about the PRINCE and avoiding unrealistic fairy tale romance. We’re definitely nowhere close to starting that conversation; but it’s a great thing to keep in mind.

  10. Domenico Bettinelli October 3, 2010 at 9:50 am #

    I forgot to add that one of my favorite parts of the Roberto Begnini movie “Life is Beautiful” is how he called his wife “principessa”, and treated her as such throughout. I aspire to treat my daughters as princesses (and my wife as a queen), not in a spoiled, pampered way, but as one who honors another whom he loves and adores.

    A true princess returns such honor and love, not with haughtiness and snobbery, but with affection and respect.

    It’s all about role models and virtue. Why let those who don’t model the best aspects of the role steal its meaning?

  11. Domenico Bettinelli October 4, 2010 at 10:35 am #

    Katherine, I think my main objection (I will let Melanie speak for herself) is to the commercialism. I just have a hard time adorning my kids in corporate logos.

    But I think my second objection is that the more recent Disney princesses often seem to embody a rejection of traditional roles: marriage, family, obligations to station in life, etc. Independence and “do what I want to do” seem to be the highest values.

    I agree that some of the Disney princesses have admirable qualities, but I think for us, for now, we fall on the other side of the balance.

    Plus, and this is a big reason, our kids don’t watch videos so they’re never exposed to the characters.

    I certainly have no problem with enjoying Disney and the Disney mythos. You are right that I grew up with Disney. I’ve been to the parks multiple times as a child and then as an adult and enjoy much about them.

  12. Katherine October 4, 2010 at 12:04 pm #

    Dom,

    Thanks for explaining further. I’m not sure which recent Disney princesses you are referring to that reject marriage or family. Almost all the princesses end up getting married, even the ones I don’t care for. I do see what you mean with regards to refusing obligations to station in life like with Jasmine and Ariel. 

    I understand your kids don’t watch videos so it would make no sense for them to dress up as characters they don’t know. My parents own a time share at Disney and every year or every other year, our family reunion is a week at Disney, so, it would likewise not make sense for me not to have my kids familiar with Disney’s characters (or at least most of them) for the sake of recognizing and being able to enjoy better the rides, attractions and shows.

  13. Domenico Bettinelli October 4, 2010 at 2:26 am #

    See, I would love to have access to a time share at Disney and thus let my kids become familiar with Disney characters. But Melanie has no desire to spend anytime in Central Florida. smile

  14. Katherine October 4, 2010 at 7:27 am #

    Dom, I guess the big difference is that you seem to not see them as good role models of princesses. I do. Certainly not perfect, but only Mary has been the perfect example of a queen/princess.

    How I wish I could be as humble and patient as Cinderella! When her own family treats her abominably, she bears it like a saint and even scolds the dog for wanting to catch the evil cat. She is kind to everyone, no matter what. Belle sacrifices herself to save her father and doesn’t judge people by their appearances. When Cecilia first saw Beauty and the Beast, she assumed the Beast was “the bad guy” but I think the story makes it clear that people may not be what they seem on first impression. She now knows a little better. Belle is courageous and encourages reading (something I particularly appreciate in any fictional character). Tiana has a strong work ethic – lazy is not in her vocabulary. She is also courageous and is really quite the heroine of the story in standing up to evil and she learns that even if you don’t get everything you hope for, if you have love, that is what really matters. These are all attributes well worth imitating.

    Certainly they are fictional characters and not Saints. I’m not suggesting anyone should replace teaching their children about the Saints with pushing princesses. But there is good in these characters to be found and while certainly the stories of Saints are better, but they are not always practical for small children. I have an animated video of St. Perpetua and St. Felicity, and while it certainly is not gory, I still think the violence of their deaths is too much for a 4 year old or a 2 year old. I don’t find any of these princesses haughty or snobby. Secular? sure. But Catholicism’s history is full of finding the good in many things (as Melanie’s link to Kate Wicker’s post argues as well).

    I certainly do not feel superior to anyone who chooses not to let their children indulge in the fantasy of a princess, Disney or not. But neither do I feel inferior. I don’t understand why anyone would feel either way provided they know that each of us is using our conscience to do what we believe is best for our children within the context of our own families and households, recognizing our own limitations and capabilities. Certainly, as Calah points out, there are dangers to the princess culture. It can be over-indulged and without any reference to true virtue it can lapse into a mere obsession over material objects or spoiled indulgence. (I know very well – I once worked in the Disney Store.) But, as Melanie put it, some people can find a balance that works and the only real off-balance I see in our home is how much time I spend on the computer. smile Our girls pretend to be Cinderella but they also pretend to be Jesus and Mary.

    I have to go. Felicity has been very patient waiting for me to help her with a puzzle. God Bless!

  15. Katherine October 5, 2010 at 8:32 am #

    Melanie,

    Oh no, I’m not offended. I enjoy the civil conversations on your blog. I was visiting a blog not too long ago and got called a “jackass” just for trying to say there was no need to be rude. I’m still disappointed the blogger, who I’d heard such good things about, seemed to have no problem with that kind of behavior in the discussions on the blog. So I am grateful that the conversations on your blog are so civil as well as interesting.

    One of my favorite bumper stickers is “Never judge a book by its movie.” Almost always the books are better than the films. When they are so vastly different though, I tend to just think of them as different stories. For most films, I was not so fortunate as to read the books first (one exception, actually, was LOTR) and I grew up in a family very fond of films (one of my brothers is trying to become a film director). I can understand why, if you knew and loved the original fairy tales first, the Disney versions, in comparison, might be a let down. They are different, in some ways significantly. I haven’t read all of the original fairy tales. I didn’t really grow up with many books being read to me, so I’ve had to read them much later and am, in many ways, still playing catch-up. Given some of the stark differences, I tend to think of them as just different stories, more “inspired by” than “based on.” Otherwise, for every book I read and decided was better than the film, I feel like I would be forced to choose between an enjoyable film and a good book. They are very different forms of story-telling and I hate the idea of banishing one thing I enjoy simply because it may not be quite as good as another thing I enjoy.

    That said, the marketing of the Disney princess line is absolutely insane. You can find almost anything with a Disney princess on it. Hence my insistence we do have limits on it in our home. I don’t know when the last time Dom was in Disney world, but they have one thing now I can’t stand. It is called Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, in which little girls get dolled up, and I mean hairstyles, make-up, glitter, nails getting done and full costume. I see little girls, like 7 years old, walking around the park and honestly I think they don’t even look like little girls. I honestly do not get it at all and it is, by my standards, beyond overboard. Here is one image I found searching google to give you an idea (brace yourself – if you didn’t like the princess stuff before and hadn’t seen this, you may never recover) http://www.ourlifeanew.com/homepa9/stack9.htm  Scroll about 1/3 of the way down and there are a series of pictures of two little girls getting done up as Jasmine and Aurora. I don’t mind if kids want to wear costumes to the park – they can be cute – but this to me looks more like those little kids some parents get all dolled up for child beauty pageants. It is the princess phenomenon to the extreme. So I can certainly understand a natural repulsion to it and a lack of comfortability consenting to any of it. Because we do go to the parks somewhat regularly though, for us, it would be a little difficult and silly to try to avoid all things princess. (We are actually scheduled to go again at the end of next May with my parents and both my brothers. I’ve never been before with a 6-8 week old but I’ve heard it is easy and they sleep through everything. Here’s hoping.)

    I admit I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who had a dislike of talking animals and I admit I don’t quite get that one (that has to be just a movie thing right? I mean, I know you like Pooh bear. I wonder why just movies.), but I’m sure you aren’t alone in that either. My in-laws despise musicals and that is something I don’t get either (actually, my other brother is going into musical theater – I’m the oddball that went into philosophy and theology lol). Compared to the books, the films might seem more simple or hollow, but I also think some of the fairy tales are a bit mature for small children. Some of their violence and tragic endings might be a bit much for younger children. Cecilia is still struggling to understand the concept of death and I certainly don’t want her rushed on such a topic. She knows it isn’t good, but she also seems to think that because Jesus came back to life, it is a temporary thing. While, in a sense, she is right, she isn’t right in the sense she is thinking of it. Certainly I do want my children to read the original fairy tales but I don’t think they are ready for it yet. We are still on Mary Engelbreit’s Mother Goose and Nursery Tales and they enjoy them. Personally I find it a fine balance between sheltering them from any of the unpleasantness of life and exposing them to it too young and my instincts just tell me my girls just aren’t ready for Cinderella’s stepsisters to be cutting off part of their own feet yet.

    I do think some of it comes down simply to how each of us was raised and our own experiences, whether that is dealing with princesses or Santa or what kinds of clothes or toys or whatever, and how comfortable we are with the subject and where we feel the limitations need to be.

    Okay, during the typing of this I’ve had 2 dirty diapers and a spilled cup of orange juice and a spilled cup of chocolate milk. I should go now before something catches fire or collapses. lol. Sorry it is so long. Thanks for the stimulating conversation. God Bless!

  16. Melanie Bettinelli October 4, 2010 at 9:17 am #

    Katherine,

    Oops, I just realized that I posted my earlier reply to you without actually completing my thought. Such is the danger of trying to answer blog comments when the kids are awake!

    I meant to explain that I hoped it didn’t sound to you like I was at all trying to put down anyone who embraces the Disney princesses because it really is a matter of it doesn’t work for me not something I think of as some sort of universal standard. I do realize that I just have a weird personal thing about Disney’s princesses that I have a hard time articulating—even Dom doesn’t quite get it—so I didn’t want you to feel like I was attacking you or criticizing your choices. You and I have very different tastes and styles and yet we are always able to have such interesting—and blessedly civil!—discussions about things where we differ.

    But I think you captured what I was really trying to say with your Santa analogy. (Wow that was another discussion that opened a can of worms, wasn’t it? I still worry I might have inadvertently offended someone during that debate.)

    To be clear, I definitely do see the goods that you point out in the characters: Cinderella’s patience and Belle’s love of books etc. So intellectually I can understand why someone would be able to see them as good role models. I did grow up with them all and I enjoyed Cinderella and Snow White and Sleeping Beauty when I was younger. But at some point I grew away from all them as my tastes changed and I came to like the older fairy tales better. Also, as Disney decided to package then and market them in a way that made them seem very different from the way I saw them when I was a girl. It seemed very strange to me when I first saw them lumped together as “The Disney Princesses”. I’m not sure I can explain what it is that bugs me, except that it seems calculated as a marketing maneuver and I hate being manipulated by marketers.

    Still, I will add that I also loved The Little Mermaid when I first saw it—well except for the way they totally messed up the ending and the way they minimized the mermaid’s sacrifice, by that time I’d already fallen in love with Hans Chrisitan Andersen’s story and I had to work a bit to disentangle the story I already loved from the movie I really wanted to like.  And I especially liked and identified with Belle’s bookishness when I first saw the movie—I just didn’t like other changes they made to the story that pulled it away from the version of the fairy tale that I already loved. There was a live version I’d seen not too long before the Disney version came out that I was in love with at the time and that presented Beauty—and her father in a way I thought was much more flattering and that captured my imagination and my heart.

    I guess what I haven’t explained so well is that my dislike is really more of an emotional reaction than an intellectual position. (Have I also mentioned my irrational dislike of talking animals? Dom really thinks I’m neurotic about that. That was a knock against Cinderella even when I was a kid.) As I grew a bit older I read and re-read and loved the original fairy tales (I had these huge complete Brothers Grimm and complete Hans Christian Andersen books and they were my constant companions for a long time.) I suppose it was a case of my first love paling in comparison with my second love? And maybe a bit of that adolescent tendency to turn rather violently against things one loved as a child because one wants to be more sophisticated? However it was, to me the Disney versions began to seem a little hollow, a little off. Plus, I’ve always been the type to prefer the book to the movie adaptation.

    As Dom suggests, I was also raised to very much dislike any merchandising. My mother pretty much never let us have any toys that were faddish, we had very little that was a movie or television tie-in unless it was given to us as a gift. And no clothes that advertised products. So there’s that odd prejudice too.

    Anyway, thanks for your patience. I hope nothing I’ve said has offended you.

  17. Sharon October 4, 2010 at 11:34 am #

    I remember that the sisters at high school, back in the dark ages, always told us that we were the daughters of the King and we should always remember that when we went out into the world.  It is sad today that most girls don’t know that they are princesses.

    My niece scours “op shops”, Australian for second-hand shops, for books and clothes for her daughter.  Last week she scored some beautiful fairy and princess dress ups. 

    I totally agree that children should not be walking corporate logos.  When my children were little there was a wonderful TV show called “Fat Tulip” which consisted of a man -Tony Robinson – telling a story about Fat Tulip and a cast of characters; the children had to use their imaginations to visualise the story.  FT was cancelled and I found out years later that is was because there was no marketing potential!  Some of you might remember that Tony Robinson was Baldrick in the Blackadder Series.

  18. Kate Wicker October 6, 2010 at 5:22 am #

    What a lovely discussion following a lovely post. (Can you tell I’ve always been drawn to loveliness?) 

    It’s funny because although both of my older girls do like fairies and princesses, my first is really drawn to pirates and dinosaurs. Her little sister was born with a glamour gene and plans to don a jeweled tiara and puffy pink ballerina outfit for Halloween (Madeline has her pirate getup all ready – complete with a hook for her hand!). Rae also wants to be Saint Cecelia for our All Saints’ Day Party because the picture of her in our saint book is pretty. Madeline wants to be Saint Helen because it’s so cool that she set out to find Christ’s cross and actually found it!

    What I’ve learned from my two very different girls is that they are each drawn to certain imaginary (and real!) characters that they can relate to. My oldest has always had more energy than plutonium whereas my second child is more reticent and dreamy. Their choice of dress-up clothes and favorite saints seem to reflect their natural inclinations.  I’m ashamed to admit that I used to push my oldest to dress in clothes that matched more (although I’ve always encouraged her affinity for pirates and dinosaurs; I think it’s great!) while I’d remind my middle child that it’s what’s on the inside that counts (since she was infatuated with makeup and fancy shoes from a young age). But I’m learning to let them be themselves – within limits of course. I realize this isn’t completely on topic, but these thoughts popped into my head as I was reading this post and the dialogue that followed.

    As for Disney princesses, I’m not a huge fan (though I did love The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast as a kid), but I also don’t fight it. People are always giving my girls princess things. They like them, but they like their animal figures the best. Mulan is their current favorite, and she’s a strong enough character. I try to not over analyze things too much, but I also try to use things like Disney princesses to springboard media literacy discussions. I’m personally more opposed to the mass commercialism Disney promotes than the actual characters in the movies.

    I’ve also realized that we all desire beauty – not because we’re vain – but because we were created by an Author of Beauty. We want to attract people because we want to be loved, but I’m trying to teach my daughters that the best beauty tips are to be kind and good and to treat others as Christ would. These are the marks of truly lovely people!

    Sorry for the rambling comment. As a mom to three girls, I very much enjoyed your post and the lively discussion here, and I love what Dom said about treating his girls like princesses.

    God bless!

  19. Jamie October 7, 2010 at 8:16 am #

    Hi Melanie!

    Just curious, but how do you feel about Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame?  I’ve never read the Hugo novel, but I love the Disney movie.  I think it might just be because of the chanting in Latin in a few songs though! smile

  20. Melanie Bettinelli October 7, 2010 at 8:37 am #

    Jamie,

    I’ve never seen Hunchback. I think the last Disney film I watched was Aladdin. Or The Lion King. After that I just lost interest.

  21. Melanie Bettinelli October 7, 2010 at 8:42 am #

    Sharon, What a shame! Sounds like a lovely show.
    In addition to not liking logos, I generally don’t like any writing on clothing. Which in baby clothes is especially hard as manufacturers seem to be obsessed with writing cutesy things all over everything. Whatever happened to just having plain clothes with cute prints? Why does it all have to be so wordy?

    Katherine, Wow! Can’t believe anyone would be that rude. I didn’t think you could have taken offense at anything I’d written; but just wanted to be sure.

    Sometimes I can separate them and treat a movie as a different story; but it is hard. Frankly, I think you’re lucky not so be as constrained by silly prejudices. You can just enjoy things for what they are.

    I think with the talking animals things I can usually suspend my disbelief when it’s all animals but when it’s people talking to animals it tends to annoy me. Pooh is an entirely different category because it is pretty clearly a world that exists in a child’s imagination. Is that a weird distinction? So be it. I did love Calvin and Hobbes especially because it is clear that to Calvin’s parents Hobbes is just a stuffed animal. I love how it dramatizes the way the world looks so different to a child. I suppose it’s the difference between entering into a child’s world to see through his eyes and trying to pretend the world is really like that to adults too?

    I definitely agree that the original fairy tales tend to be pretty dark. In general I don’t think my kids are ready for most of them. We’ve read a few Andersen tales: The Ugly Duckling, The Steadfast Tin Soldier, The Little Match Girl (which is borderline for me I skip over the line about her being beaten and I worry a bit about the fact that she dies.) Many of the Grimm stories are really too much for the young ones. Then again, I think many of the Disney movies have elements I’d hesitate to show to a two or three year old: the dragon in Sleeping Beauty, the chase scene in Snow White, the violence in Beauty and the Beast. I know that dragon gave me nightmares when I was just 4. I still remember the dream I had of it burning Tinkerbell to death.

  22. Melanie Bettinelli October 7, 2010 at 8:54 am #

    Kate,

    Thanks for adding your thoughts to the discussion. It may not be completely on topic for what I actually wrote; but your Dress Up piece that you wrote for Betty Beguiles was at the back of my head as I wrote this blog post. I never got around to working it in, but the ideas were tickling int he back of my head and had this been a polished essay instead of a blog post, I know I’d have gone back and pulled in that thread of thought as well. Ah, my life is so full of dropped threads right now! I am learning to let things go and then finding that if they were really important they will find their way back to me despite my scatteredness.

    I love what you say about recognizing your daughters’ temperaments in the characters and imaginary games they are drawn to.

    And what you say about the Author of Beauty is so true. I have a blog post about beauty and faith that has been on the back burner for more than a year now that tries to explore that theme. Well, maybe one of these days I’ll find my way back to the topic.

  23. Katherine October 8, 2010 at 9:33 am #

    Melanie,

    No, you are always a very pleasant hostess.

    I love Calvin and Hobbes. I understand the distinction you are making. I think the significance of the distinction is a matter of personal preference. Sometimes I wonder if adults wouldn’t benefit from seeing the world the way a child does; maybe that is one of the benefits of such films – helping adults to see how the world can still be that way for them, even if they are grown up? I sometimes wonder just when and how I came to see the world less through the child-like eyes where anything is still possible. The eyes of realist adults can be, at times, downright depressing.

    You make a good point about scarier elements of Disney films. Sleeping Beauty is not one the girls choose to watch often, I do think in large part because of the dragon. I think we mainly showed it to them because of the characters and references in the parks. Certainly, if they find something scary, we never push it. I think sometimes it is hard to know just what will give kids nightmares and what won’t. The Snow White ride at Disney World has the wicked queen “pop” out more than once. Felicity loves the ride. Cecilia refuses to go on it. She might not dislike it if she went on it, but we don’t force her. I think some stories are easy to see as too scary for kids but then I think others it is harder to tell. It might just vary from child to child. I haven’t read them the Steadfast Tin Soldier yet simply because I think the ending might really upset them, especially since the Disney version has a happier ending.

    Your dragon burning Tinkerbell would definitely leave its mark on anyone. My earliest memory of a nightmare was one where ET was chasing me. Who would’ve thought ET could be so frightening, but I was terrified. At the same time, I could understand why some people would never imagine a film like ET to give a child such nightmares. Sometimes I just think it is hard to know what will be too much and what is an reasonable risk for the sake of a good story.

    Kate,

    Your daughters sound like my oldest two. Cecilia loves the color red, likes playing with cars/trucks and bouncing off anything. She pretends to fly and goes “on adventures.” Felicity prefers the color purple, likes to dance and twirl, prefers tea parties. Even when they play dress-up, Cecilia prefers being Alice chasing the white rabbit, while Felicity is Cinderella off to the ball. Since I had no sisters growing up, I find it fascinating how different their personalities can really be and yet they can play together and each has its advantages and challenges. It is a little adventure for me in itself just trying to encourage each child to be who they are while trying to steer them in the direction of virtue and truth.

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