Thoughts on the Elves and the Shoemaker (and fairy tales in general)

Bubba recently got given a set of the Ladybird classic fairy tale book collection.  She loves, loves, loves it and spends a vast majority of the day pulling each book out of the box that it comes in and flicking through the pages (amongst poking my eye out with the sharp edges).  Tonight, she chose the Elves and the Shoemaker for her bedtime story.  I must admit, I’ve never come across this story before; it’s obviously a gaping hole in my fairytale education.  So I was just as intrigued with the story development as she was.

The start of the story was interesting; it said something along the lines of this:

The shoemaker and his wife were very poor.  Over the years they got poorer and poorer.  Finally the day came when the shoemaker had only enough leather to make one last pair of shoes.  Once the last pair of shoes gets sold, him and his wife will be destitute.

All I could think of from this point forward was: that’s a terrible business model.  If he’s consistently working, shouldn’t he make more and more?  And even if that’s not the case, should not the sale of the last pair of shoes give him the funds to make more shoes?  Isn’t that the point of a sale?  Or was he so far down the line of bad business, that the shoes will sell for less than the cost of the raw materials?

I mentioned these inconsistencies to my hubby.  Then we started talking about fairy tales in general.  Some of them are just plain weird.

Like the princess and the pea; why is it a good thing if you get bruised by a pea under twenty mattresses and twenty feather mattresses.  What is a real princess anyway…..Do we even want our children to be real princesses?!

And what’s the deal with Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.  Why is Snow White responsible for cooking and cleaning for seven men? And how can you resurrect someone by knocking the poisonous comb out of her hair, or the poisonous apple out of her mouth?  Obviously it’s a different type of poison to those used in Greek tragedies, where a single touch is deadly.  They need to get more powerful stuff for the fairy tale poisons.

And, and, and……why are beautiful people always kind and ugly people always evil?

Hopefully bubba be kind, irrespective of how she looks.  And hopefully she won’t judge the character of a person based on their looks.  I know, I know.  Fairy tales are just that.  Tales.  Sometimes life is easier if we don’t read too much into stuff 😉  But really has anyone else ever thought that fairy tales are perfectly normal stories when you read them as a child, but that they are perfectly creepy when you read them as adults?

Unexpected Gem

Lately, our little girl has been not loving the car.  Perhaps, it’s the heat, the sun glare?  Or perhaps she’s bored or lonely sitting all the way back there by herself?  We’re not really sure.  To make things even more interesting, she’s not a huge fan of the pram either.  This makes getting to places somewhat of a challenge.  I’m determined however, to get out a little each day – – our living room is great but is not the best classroom for learning.  I want her to see trees, flowers, dogs, people!

Luckily, she seems to do okay in our ring sling (we got this beautiful linen one).  After several days of scorching heat, today was overcast so I jumped at the chance to take her on a little walk around our house.  To my delight, we came across a kids friendly cafe which I didn’t know was just around the corner from us.  I sat down to grab a bite while she napped and the lovely owner gave me the latest copy of Melbourne’s child magazine.  There’s a refreshing article in there titled ‘keep it kind’; it describes self-compassion in a very practical way.  The author (Dr Kristin Neff) defines self compassion as having three main components: self kindness, common humanity and mindfulness.

The biggest take-away I got from the article was that in difficult moments (ie. when I feel that I have failed or that I am inadequate as a Mum) I should treat myself as I would with a good friend.  Isn’t it funny how we often speak to ourselves in much harsher language than we would ever use to speak to a friend?

The whole article is very worthwhile reading.  If you’re not able to grab a copy, you may want to check out the author’s website at www.self-compassion.org.

I’m so grateful for today.  For the not-too-hot weather which enabled us to go out.  For the ring-sling which is turning out to be a life-saver.  For the unexpected gem of a cafe with the lovely owner.  For the free magazine, which led me to this great article.  And for my daughter who is so sweet, and who is teaching me so much about life.

Kindness as a Muscle.

I recently read an article which outlines the science of lasting relationships – basically it all comes down to kindness.  Without being disrespectful (one always follows this sentence with something which is disrespectful :-/), I feel like saying duh.  As a society we spend a lot of time and money researching things which should be intuitive……perhaps it’s not that intuitive?

I  find it comforting that the key to a lasting relationship can be learnt; the article makes interesting comments about kindness being a muscle:

There are two ways to think about kindness. You can think about it as a fixed trait: either you have it or you don’t. Or you could think of kindness as a muscle. In some people, that muscle is naturally stronger than in others, but it can grow stronger in everyone with exercise. Masters tend to think about kindness as a muscle. They know that they have to exercise it to keep it in shape. They know, in other words, that a good relationship requires sustained hard work.

That is so true;  in the coming years of my marriage I am going to exercise my kindness muscle so that it grows bigger and stronger (How daggy, I can’t believe I just typed that).

The full article is available at this LINK. I highly recommend a read.  It’s not exclusive to romantic relationships either, kindness is something we can all practice a little more of…..I’m saying this especially to remind myself.  In the tiredness and busyness of the every day, sometimes I slide over to the irritable me without realising how much it may hurt those around me.  Time to make a change.