Welcome to another all-too-infrequent installment of “Jenny Actually Uses Her Degree For Something.” Have you ever read a Fairy Tale and thought to yourself, “Look at this dumb dummy! That’s a surefire way to get yourself killed!”? Now, imagine a world in which young people were allowed to be dumb dummies, where they were allowed to make mistakes, and the world did not punish them for it! Imagine a world in which the Fairy Tales are short because people are nice.
Hansel & Gretel
Once upon a time, on the outskirts of a large forest, there lived a woodcutter with his wife and two children. Famine descended upon the land, and it became difficult for the woodcutter to provide for his family. Rather than abandon their children in the woods, the woodcutter’s wife ventured outside of the home to find work in the town nearby. Together, the two parents were able to earn enough money to keep their family happy and healthy. The End.
Little Red Riding Hood
Once upon a time, there was a little girl who was beloved by everyone, but most of all by her grandmother, who once gave the girl a little riding hood of red velvet. This suited her so well that she would never wear anything different; so she was always called “Little Red Riding Hood.” Then, the grandmother became sick, and Little Red Riding Hood travelled through the woods to visit her, carrying all the time a basket of goodies.
On her way through the woods, Little Red strayed from the path in order to gather some flowers to make a bouquet for her grandmother. After she had picked all the beautiful blooms that her heart desired, she arrived at her grandmother’s house completely unmolested, and she found her grandmother sick in bed, but delighted to see her, the goodies she had brought, and the beautiful bouquet she had picked. The goodies and the flowers so revived Little Red’s grandmother that she went on to live for many years and was not once eaten by a wolf. The End.
Once upon a time, there lived a king and queen. They had prayed for a child for a long time, and, eventually, they were blessed with a beautiful baby girl. They invited everyone in the land to the christening, where they could bestow gifts upon the child; and they made a point not to exclude the powerful witch who lived in the castle in the woods (who, surely, would bestow the greatest gift, being that she was a powerful witch). She did. The young princess was gifted with the ability to turn into a dragon, and she went on to protect herself and her kingdom for all the days of her life. The End.
Once upon a time, there was a merchant who lived a quiet life with his wife and daughter. Then, one day, his wife passed away. The merchant’s job required that he travel often. Thinking that his daughter would benefit from having other children to play with, he married a widow, who had two daughters of her own. The three girls played together happily, and the stepmother was a reasonable human being who recognized that her new husband’s daughter was just a child, and deserved to be treated with love and understanding. The End.
Once upon a time, there lived a baker and his wife who desperately wished to have a child. They lived next door to an enchantress, who grew the most delicious vegetables in her garden. One day, the baker’s wife saw some cabbage growing in the enchantress’s garden and said to her husband, “Oh, that cabbage looks so good! I think I’ll die if I don’t eat some of that cabbage!” Rather than descend into the enchantress’s garden in the dead of night to steal some cabbage, the baker baked a loaf of bread and walked to his neighbor’s door, like a civilized human being.
He asked the enchantress if he might trade her this loaf of bread for a head of cabbage, which his wife said looked so delicious. The enchantress, flattered by this compliment to her garden (AS ANY GARDENER WOULD BE), readily agreed to the trade, and struck up a friendly conversation with the baker. Upon hearing that he and his wife were trying to conceive, she whipped up a small potion to help the process along. Over the ensuing nine months, the couple and the enchantress grew very close, and when the baby was born, they asked the enchantress to be her godmother. They named the baby Rapunzel, after the cabbage that had begun this beautiful friendship. The three friends all watched over the young girl to ensure that she grew up happy and healthy. The End.
An argument could be made that these stories do not prepare children for the harsh realities of life in the same way as the originals, but I disagree. I think these stories prepare children BETTER, by showing them what acceptable behavior looks like. A whole lot of problems can be solved by being nice to people and communicating! Also, let’s not forget the other great lessons in here, i.e. women can get jobs, and you should always be nice to children and people with magic powers!