Hansel and Gretel and the Huuuuuge Elephant

My wife Allison informed me today that if our kids aren’t considered “socialized” by the public school system or by other state organs, it won’t be because they didn’t watch Sesame Street or Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, but rather–it will be my fault.

Let me explain. I tend to tell the girls creative versions of the well known fairy tales. So, to my wife’s surprise the other day, my oldest daughter began telling her the story of “Hansel and Gretel and the Witch Princess,” which was my latest concoction. I just thought it made more sense to include a Witch Princess who was the daughter of the Witch King of Agmar (Lord of the Rings) and the White Witch (Chronicles of Narnia). My daughter loved it and won’t even listen to the original Hansel and Gretel anymore. Instead, she either insists on hearing about the Witch Princess or makes up her own version.

My wife and I had a laugh when she told us her own version over lunch: “Hansel and Gretel and the Huuuuuge Elephant,” set in a humid Indian jungle rather than a deep dark Germanic forest. The newcomer to the story was of course Colonel Hathi of Jungle Book fame. He tramped around and knocked on the door of the Seven Dwarfs’ cottage (where Hansel and Gretel were staying with Snow White) and they all galloped away with Bambi at the end of the story. There might not be much didactic value to her story (or my fairy tale distortions for that matter) as there is supposed to be with the Grimms’ fairy tales, but they sure are fun.

But I can see Allison’s point. If, hypothetically speaking, my daughters are asked in school to relate one of these fairy tales, and they tell instead one of their creations, I can see how the public school administrators might just be giving me a call and telling me to sit them down in front of Sesame Street instead.

13 Responses to Hansel and Gretel and the Huuuuuge Elephant

  1. Anonymous says:

    Those sound like some very creative and fun stories. The end result, no doubt, is far more interesting and less predictable than the original story. 🙂


  2. john f. says:

    Danithew, if you think that is interesting, see my comment over at your blog for my version of the Mark Hacking murder.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Happy Birthday, punk! :)-


  4. DeniseUMLaw says:

    Cute story. My kids almost never watched *any* television, especially not insipid programming like “Sesame Street”. Of course, they were home-schooled during the elementary years, so there was no one to tell us that we were doing it wrong.

    And, I’m a huge fan of Hillary Clinton. 🙂

  5. DeniseUMLaw says:

    OOPS. I forgot — Jordan said I was supposed to wish you a Happy Birthday. I do. 🙂

  6. john f. says:

    Thanks Denise!

    That must have been quite a chore to homeschool the kids. And you are to be admired for your fortitude in steering clear of TV with your kids.

  7. DeniseUMLaw says:

    It never seemed like fortitude. We loved our kids so dearly that it seemed a waste to spend the time on the tube. But, who’s to say that watching TV together is any worse than what we did? I make no such judgment.

    We read together. I once read the entire Tolkein trilogy, plus The Hobbit to my children. They were as fascinated by that as they would have been by any television program. In later years, the kids would read to us.

    But, I must confess, upon the advent of the personal computer and computer games, we were swept away! 🙂 Thankfully, by then, the kids were far enough along in their education (and love for education!) that we weren’t all totally overcome by the addiction!

  8. john f. says:

    I know what you mean by “addiction.” I don’t know what my wife and I are going to do about that as our kids grow older. Is it sexist for me to say that because we have only girls (so far) we are not as scared when it comes to those shoot-em-up video games that are frying the brains of a new generation of American males (and turning them into Abu Ghraib-type abusers of human dignity)?

  9. T says:

    Hey, found you through Mormanity. Coo blog!
    I think those are great variations on fairy tales. Think of it this way: It encourages your kids to think creatively!

  10. john f. says:

    Thanks T!

    I like the idea of having the kids think creatively, but I am conflicted. I wonder if I am doing them a disservice by sowing the seeds of discontent with the original versions of the story. After all, what if they learn that if they are dissatisfied with anything in life, they can just make up their own version of it and be happy? This can’t be a solution for them; however, it might be useful if they pursue creative professions (like the law).

  11. Jenna says:

    I used to read so much that my parents had to force me to stop. I dont know what they did, but I hope that my kids (at the risk of ostracizing themselves as I sometimes did) develop the love for literature that I did. I have debated on whether I will even use up my money to have a TV and cable when I first have children. After moving into a new apartment and not having one, I find that I dont even miss it at all. I hardly have enough time in the day to do what I need too anyways.

  12. john f. says:

    Jenna, I say more power to you on that one! Life without a TV would be very liberating. I don’t watch much TV but I don’t think I would be brave enough to take that step.–>

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