I sometimes wonder if the popularity of Disney princesses has created another generation of young ladies growing up internalizing Fantasyland expectations of romance and real life.
I do believe that we should have our dreams, but when those dreams are beyond the possibilities of the real world, we may never be satisfied. When our expectations for a happy future don’t include the reality of human frailty, the unpredictable ups and downs of life, and the routine of every day, we may be setting ourselves up for disappointment, frustration and depression.
My daughter is growing up fast. She has now outgrown bedtime stories. She used to ask me to read a story about one of her favourite princesses. At other times, I made up a fresh one. In either case, the story was shaped by the storyteller to give subtle paternal insights into my daughter’s real life.
Here’s your bedtime story for tonight.
Not long after riding into the sunset with Prince Charming, Snow White learned the meaning of living happily ever after. With the passage of time, the prince’s fortune was eroded by circumstances beyond his control – the devaluation of his real estate holdings and the loss of his contract work as a dragon-slayer. The fire-breathing beasts had been declared an endangered species.
The prince was spending much more time around the castle, but not doing his share of the housework. Living once upon a time, he held old-fashioned attitudes and still likened himself to be the king of the castle. With the passage of time, he did not age gracefully; with each new grey hair, he would become more charming only outside of their home.
He became increasingly irritated by the very same qualities he once found endearing in Snow White. She was a pushover for door-to-door salesmen. Each day, he dreaded to hear about her newly purchased scrub brushes, magazine subscriptions or scrapbooking tools.
No longer able to afford hired help, Snow White was back to scrubbing floors and spending hours in the kitchen trying to feed their three teenaged princes who ate more than seven dwarfs, spoke less than Bashful and acted grumpier than Grumpy.
Ever so cheerful, she would whistle while she worked, but that whistling soon got on the Prince’s nerves. Eventually she lost her cheerfulness but kept on whistling. She had developed asthma induced by toxic cleaning chemicals.
To make ends meet, Snow White went back to work in Disneyland, signing autographs for her adoring fans and parading with her old friends, the Seven Dwarfs. Like all true friends, they still saw and loved the best in her.
The Dwarfs helped Snow White and Prince Charming get back on the right track. Love might be something you stumble upon but real love requires real effort – to continue to see the best in others in spite of the flaws which make us human and real, and in spite of the challenges of children, money and every day life
The very things that at first endear us to one another can become a source of irritation, and though familiarity can make us feel comfortable, we also risk taking each other for granted. The Dwarfs, each with their own uniquely lovable quirks, had learned to live together before and after Snow White.
Every happy ending is just a beginning. Love is not just a feeling; it’s an action.