I was at a birthday party yesterday for one of B’s friends who was turning 4. We went to an indoor play place and they had Tinkerbell come do games, stories, and face painting. It was a fun party with cake at the end and a nice goodie bag that kept my daughter busy while I drove home from Woodland Hills.
At the party a mom told me about the Brothers Grimm version of Rapunzel. I could not believe I never heard this version before. Growing up, I remember being read Hans Christian Anderson Fairy Tales, and now as a parent I have found that I have had to censor certain books that I grew up with because there was lots of reality and violence in some of these fairy tales that are just a little too scary for a 4 year old.
This mom told me that Rapunzel was actually a story about a pregnant couple who had to give up their child to an enchantress to lock away in a tower away from the rest of the world to pay off their debt of stealing her vegetables from her garden. This girl, Rapunzel, grew to be beautiful and had long locks. Rapunzel used her locks to let a prince up to visit her night after night and agreed to marry him. One day she realized her stomach was bigger but did not understand why, and the enchantress banished her into the forest and blinded the prince when he came up one night to find the enchantress in the tower instead of Rapunzel. Later, the prince and Rapunzel are reunited with her twins that she gave birth to, and her tears magically help him regain his sight and the family of 4 move back into the Kingdom together.
As a mother, I just cannot imagine reading a story like this to my 4 year old and then explaining why her stomach got bigger and bigger as the prince came to visit her every night after he yelled, “Rapunzel, Rapunzel let down your hair.” I already had to circumvent explaining why Katie Perry sings, “I kissed a girl and I liked it,” the other day in the car.
I don’t want to shelter my child, but I do believe that a 4 year old should have limited exposure to all this reality until a certain age. It is just so strange to discover now as a parent that all these Fairy Tales have so many crazy reality topics in them. Teen Pregnancy is not a topic I am ready to explore with my 4 year old yet.
Also, I noticed that all the princess stories that I loved as a child always have an evil element that a prince must come and kill to save the princess and then they can live happily ever after. I don’t want my little B to think that some prince is going to save her from evil when she grows up because that is not reality. The reality is the Princess moves to New York City to live in a 6th floor walk up with roaches and has to go to work for an internship salary while working her way up the corporate ladder and may never meet a prince. Or when the princess finally meets the prince, he may have to work in some Italian restaurant in the Bowery somewhere for minimum wage while they spend weekends together sharing a baguette and cheese and a bottle of wine on a picnic blanket in Central Park.
Here is a photo of Bloomingdale’s version of Rapunzel from a Holiday Display one year in New York City.