Our Saturday morning routine involves Husband’s favorite childhood memories: cartoons. Sometimes it’s the DVR’d episodes of Mickey, or finding something somewhat age-appropriate on the main stations. This morning, to leverage a longer bit of peace, I turned on Tangled. Though our kids don’t get much screen time during the week (other than at the sitters; I’m pretty sure they get to watch a show or 2 there), I’m a sucker for Pixar. **Please don’t tell me Tangled isn’t Pixar. My feelings would be hurt.
The opening of the show gives the background, and what do you know, there’s a princess that is stolen from her crib to be raised by an evil witch. Kind of par for course in these shows. Some sort of magical switch must be pulled – a kiss from a prince, finding a flower, a shoe fitting… what have you. But all these fairy tales entail a beautiful girl whose birthright is royalty but seems to be growing up among the lower commoners.
The holy* among the ordinary. The sacred among the secular.
Throughout these stories the heroine survives struggle, mistreatment (many times involving menial tasks like housework and feeding large numbers of short men) and an adventure in finding out who she “really is.”
But the journey of identity discovery leads us to find that she is always who she was, except now she holds the knowledge of her significance.
The journey and adventure of discovering identity is probably a rite of passage for all; no matter at what young age we begin telling our kids their significance, it needs to be discovered for themselves to have impact. And riding around on flying carpets does seem to make it more memorable. It also allows the young lady to realize that menial tasks aren’t beneath anyone. Cooking, cleaning, washing clothes… these things must be done, and a true princess values those who do the tasks because she’s done them before and knows the worth. The princesses born and raised in the royal setting in these stories tend to undervalue the ordinary life, including the “normal” people.
Everything exists for a reason, and these time-tested tales, I believe, have a place for our daughters (and our sons). A time arises in every young person’s life when they discover their worth. For some, they’ve been given a gift of worthiness thanks to their parents, and perhaps their adventure involves less turmoil and a few less instances of being chased on horseback. But when we allow them to discover – and own – their value, not just because we told them so, but because we’ve led them to that discovery, their “menial” life will clash with one filled with purpose and meaning.
And I haven’t even dove into the role of love in such discovery. It’s a role we parents cannot fill, but it doesn’t negate the importance. Belle loves the Beast as a hairy monster, not just for his power and significance. Often times the prince doesn’t fall immediately in love with the heroine, but rather opinions and personalities collide. But in these struggles love and respect form, which is a closer portrayal of marriage then some of the stories we find in today’s movies.
All of this scares me a bit as a parent because so much of it is out of my control. But I rest in doing my part: raising a knight in shining armor who will respect a young princess as she discovers her worth and value in this world. And reminding my fair young ladies that not every man on a horse will lead them to rescue; in fact some come riding because they want to steal the power that lies within. With much hope, I can teach them to learn the difference between the two.
(*For a fantastic teaching on the meaning of holy, I would direct you to a teaching by Pastor/FB friend of mine using cooking spices. If this isn’t the exact message, go to the week before. Breakfast is being cooked and memories made that I don’t have time to double-check the validity. Besides, I’m sure it’s a good message even if the illustration isn’t in there. It would have nothing to do with this post, but consider it a freebee.)