my house is situated about a 10 minute walk from what can be considered the centre of town. as in, i can buy starbucks there.
wait, let’s back that up. my house is situated 25 minutes from town. this recalculation is based on how long it takes me and kids #1, 2, and 3 to actually get from point a to b. this is not an easy task. there’s the initial “no kid #2, you can’t take these pieces of pretend salad (or whatever crazy thing) with you”. also, why are shoes a problem? if it’s not that one has disappeared into thin air, it’s that i’m being argued with around actually wearing them. why is it that i am forced to tell them over and over that wearing shoes is just a thing. like washing your hair. if you want to be a person who is taken seriously and given the responsibility of ordering your own drink at starbucks then you must put them on. both of them.
why is everything an issue? why can’t we just be a nice family out on a walk together?
for example: “kid #1, it’s not normal to make shooting noises at everyone we pass. i don’t care that YOU think you’re fighting the zombie apocalypse. other people just think you’re weird. and dangerous”.
so i have begun to tell stories. i used to make all of them up but this became an issue (as everything does) because later on i couldn’t always remember every detail of every story i had ever told. and requests such as “tell me the one from that day when it was sort of raining and sort of not raining” were frustrating to all of us. something needed to change.
i decided it might be in everybody’s best interests to stick to a story we all knew. something like a fairytale. because everyone knows the story of the 3 little pigs. and cinderella. and red riding hood. no problems. no arguments. nothing.
and then came hansel and gretel.
the issue with hansel and gretel it would seem, was that my story began with “once upon a time there was a brother and a sister and they lived in a little house in the forest”. and BANG! it was on.
kid #1: “the brother was older right? like me? because he should probably be the one to hold the breadcrumbs. gretel might eat them i think. you know, that was a really good idea he had about the breadcrumbs. hansel’s a smart guy. i bet he’d be really good at video games.”
kid #2: “do hansel and gretel have a mommy? do they have a daddy? do they have some friends?”
and on and on and on.
once we had agreed on all of the finer points of the story, such as hansel is 7 and gretel is 2, and the breadcrumbs were actually pieces, and what type of candy should or should not be on the house, and what kind of lock the cage had on it, and how did hansel and gretel lose all the weight they must have gained while in captivity, i could no longer hear myself think. AND i was starting to resent the brothers grimm for their stupid story. AND i still had not had my coffee.
i still love fairy tales even though i realize most are about as ridiculous as my kids are. for instance, why didn’t cinderella run into town and get herself some help? how do you even build a house out of straw? what does ‘not by the hair of my chinny-chin-chin actually mean?
truth be told, hansel and gretel and our elaborately created version of them (complete with post captivity weight loss program), and that day’s walk to town in the sort of rain and sort of not rain, holds a seriously special place in my heart.
so now we just do our kick-ass version of hansel and gretel on walks into town. and for all their hard work and crazy imaginations, i think my kids deserve this:
and by this, i mean steve light‘s hand-carved wooden hansel and gretel story box that includes everything you need to tell the original story. my kids will probably have to toss in some lego light sabers and jelly beans while they move their pieces around to tell the story but how awesomely beautiful is this toy? maybe i should just have it for myself. and the details are adorable.
hey look, it’s 7 year old hansel who’s super clever and good at video games.
and his sister gretel who is definitely younger than him and probably not as clever.
as a side note, story boxes are also available in rapunzel,
the african folktale ‘the girl who loved danger’ (this one comes with a scary lake monster hand puppet)
and the japanese folktale ‘little one inch’
but issue free? you just never know…