Down the rabbit hole, we fall…Here we are expanding on the previous post, Watership Down. Here we will uncover the why we find the creepy, cringy, weirdo stuff as kids. There is something to these mad tales because they are an important part of our evolution as humans and for survival. Conquering fear is something that is a vital life skill. People who ‘defer’ reading fairy tales etc to reading other things are doing a disservice.
“Fairy tale carries us back to this primordial kind of attention, the attention we gave the world when everything was “for the first time.” In the earliest childhood, noticing and remarking matters most. Have you watched a small child gaze around, letting her eye be caught by this and that? Have you asked her to tell you about her day? The narrative will be disjunctive, lacking formal reason, yet filled with all that truly matters: filled what was seen, heard, tasted, touched, smelled, felt. The “why?” comes later. And of course, such a way of perceiving is full of surprise: both unexpected delight and terror. Here is how a typical tale proceeds: Something happens. Then something else. Another occurrence. And another. And yet again another. But the nature and order of these events defy logic. Connections seem arbitrary if they exist at all and contiguous in a purely temporal register, with one experience simply following another.”https://newrepublic.com/article/126582/irresistible-psychology-fairy-tales
“Often what the clients cannot say about themselves, they can instead verbalize about fairy tale characters; in other words, favorite fairy tales can function as mirrors of ourselves. In this study, one eating disordered client stated that Cinderella was her favorite fairy tale because Cinderella overcame her social status. Used as a projective tool, this response would indicate that the client needed to overcome her sense of having an inferior status.” https://hilo.hawaii.edu/campuscenter/hohonu/volumes/documents/ThePositiveImpactsofFairyTalesforChildrenLeilaniVisikoKnox-Johnson.pdf
I found solace in the darker aspects of fairy tales, I always have preferred things that are considered macabre. Not because of any other reason than the fact that I find the dark, squishy, decaying part of nature the most real. I see this in stories by Grimm. The idea that the woman in the woods is going to eat you, that the wolf is not your friend, that the darkness is where you will need a match and never find one, and in this darkened wood, I was the witch, I was the darkness, and I was home. Perhaps it was what led me to explore my spiritual life, I don’t know, but in the Grimms stories in which the witches win, I found my people. I could see myself twirling around in the bog, picking up dead man’s toes. For me, this life was just luring because I was a child who grew up in a volatile home, and so perhaps being a witch gave me a sense of coping with that. I saw myself being able to escape, and knowing how to heal with the food that I cooked and the bones that I ground. Although this is purely my use of metaphor here, I think my point is valid, its here that I found my solace. I believe that some of us are just more comfortable with the natural elements in fairy tales and the darker element of stories. I mentioned before, The Velveteen Rabbit, and I am including that because it is bordering traumatic. I was a child who suffered from illness, and so hospitals and nurses and icky medicine was real for me, at some points, I believed I would die. That story holds fear in me, a fear of losing the most treasured part of a parent, your child. I will not even fathom how difficult this is, or try to understand the grief, I cannot. I don’t know how parents cope with it, you are braver than anyone I know and have a sense of life that I could not. Coping with this loss cannot be anything that can be expressed in words. Still, the fear is real, and that book expresses it in spades. But it also gives us this way of explaining the concepts of ‘not forever’ to our child. The concepts of loss are hard to explain, and I think that the story holds a bit of that in it. It gives us this hope that there is a life after. It also explains what happens to toys that perhaps find they cannot be put together, the ones that cause us scrambling to find out how to make an exact duplicate. Sometimes these stories are the way we can convey pain and despair in a way that is not scarring them for life. Regardless of how we see these stories, they are part of our childhood, and part of our lives, and make these moments very meaningful. Embrace the darkness, love the creepy, these stories do not risk your child being a ‘weirdo’ and even if they do…as the Cheshire Cat says “we’re all mad here”