Bargell: Happy endings
September 11, 2010
The production of Cinderella last weekend at the Riverwalk was great fun. In my view, the absolute best part was looking up to see the smiling faces of kids, friends and entire families sharing their talent. What a testament to Summit County’s theater community.
My youngest and I had a date to the play, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I tried to coax my older daughter into going, but she hemmed and hawed a bit, and eventually declined. It wasn’t about not wishing her friends well – she thought it was really cool they were acting. Instead, it was about the play itself. Basically, she does not like the story. OK, I thought, I get the part about princesses not having the same sheen they once had by the time you’re in fifth grade. But really, who can resist a Cinderella ending?
Of course, I’ve always been a bit partial to Cinderella – her name has such a nice ring. Besides, what’s not to like about her? She’s sweet and kind and ultimately gets the prince. I wanted, however, to better understand exactly what was up with my eldest, so on the way home from school one day we chatted about the story. What she had to say made me think of things other than fairy tales.
Not surprisingly, she first pointed out that Cinderella goes to balls. Balls, really, who goes to balls in Summit County? (Perhaps mom and dad should get out more often). As for glass slippers: Cindy clearly had not been around the county during mud season.
Cajoling her a bit, I told her all the Disney princesses were just as unbelievable, why pick on Cinderella? Take Jasmine in “Aladdin,” for example: Who does she know that rides around on a magic carpet? She responded enthusiastically that Jasmine was adventurous, and besides her story was all about being yourself. Plus, (nearly) everyone knows Jasmine saved Aladdin – not the other way around. Unprompted, she went on about “Beauty and the Beast,” a story that proves you don’t have to be good looking to be loved (although a pleasant demeanor can help). And finally, with some sense of exasperation, she told me she really didn’t like the whole idea of a story being about finding love. What was the problem with these girls that they had to look for love to make them happy? All they really need is to be happy with themselves. (I’m hoping she remembers this in high school.) She then abruptly left the conversation with plans to write a story about a Princess who was fun and happy, and didn’t need to find a prince. Naturally, I’m going to try to market it to Disney when she’s done.
Our little interview made me realize that my idea of a happy ending may not coincide with the kids’ ideas. And, while I am pretty much over the idea of a fairy-tale life, I still have some pretty strong views on what success entails. What I am sure any seasoned parent would tell me is just wait – because as our children get older our ideas of what’s good for them must give way in order for them to forge their own happy endings. We can merely equip them with tools we think important. Not glass slippers or ball gowns, but instead honesty, integrity and compassion. And, the most important thing we can do is support them in their journey, even if it does not remotely relate to princes or princesses.
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Cindy Bargell lives outside of Silverthorne with her husband and two daughters. She is a card-carrying PTSA member, real estate and natural resources lawyer and part-time gymnastics coach. She welcomes your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.