I was probably about 11 or 12, and helping my cousin babysit. One of the kids was a girl about 6 years old, and we were watching a Disney movie that was new, at the time. And then I asked her if she had seen older Disney movies, like Snow White and Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella, and she said she had never heard of them. It was so strange for me, but really cool too. I started telling her the stories, and was amazed that anyone wouldn’t have heard them before. She was so interested, and had questions, and wanted to know more stories. It was like she was starved for them.
Even though I was pretty young myself, I had this profound realization that just because I know something, it doesn’t mean someone else does. I know, I know, it seems really obvious, but give me a break – I was a kid! But I understood then how one of the cool things about being an adult and having kids is that I get to tell them stories for the first time. All the stories I take for granted that everyone hears at some point in their childhood… as a parent, you get to BE that person that tells the kids the stories. And not just the famous ones, but the ones you make up based loosely on other stories. You can be at that point over and over again, and you can answer the questions, and hear the excitement and fear in your child’s voice, and you can surprise them with things that don’t surprise adults, because it’s “so predictable” — but only because adults have heard the stories.
I haven’t thought about that night in a really long time. Clearly it had an impact on me, if I’m recalling it now all these years later. So what brought it up? I just finished watching The Princess and the Frog, and I’m thinking of how wonderful and nostalgic the 2D animation is. It reminded me of those movies I watched over and over as a kid. I guess what really triggered this memory, though, was the ending. (Spoiler alert!) For a few minutes, they lead you to believe that Tiana and the prince will stay frogs forever, that the spell didn’t break when it was supposed to. I didn’t like that ending; after Tiana goes through the whole movie talking about the restaurant she wants to start to fulfill her father’s dream, it wasn’t “right.” And then I realized that once they get married (because in Disney movies, animals can get married), she will be a princess, thus kissing her would break the spell.
I wonder if I’d seen this as a child, if I would have caught on to that, or if I would have been surprised. I think I would never have guessed… my father would have predicted it, as he always did when I was little, and I would have thought he was the smartest, most amazing dad in the whole world. I hope my kids think of me like that some day, as the smartest and most amazing…
He really is, though.