Hold on, don’t stop reading, let me explain.
Don’t get me wrong, I love fairy tales and happy endings and knights in shining armor, and dragons to slay and magic and wonder.
But I’ve been thinking about the classic fairy tales. They teach kids, especially girls, to romanticize everything. Ever notice how every fairy tale goes a little like this: boy meets girl, boy rescues girl from evil (dragon, witch, wizard, you name it), boy marries girl (or kisses her or rides off into the sunset with her), they live happily ever after.
One: I really do think some people need a hero. Sometimes I think I need a hero. Rescuing someone is good. Sometimes. (Sometimes even the prince needs rescued by the maiden——scandalous, I know.)
Two: Not everyone needs a hero. Some people need a partner. Sometimes, there is a dragon to slay, but it would be easier with two people wielding hefty swords, not just the prince and his dagger.
Three: Marriage is good, and honorable, and lovely. It is a commitment I fully intend on participating in if I ever get the chance.
Four: Marriage seems like hard work.
Five: I’m all for happy endings, but weddings aren’t the be all end all. Who decided they were? That’s a load of crap! And I love weddings. But “happily ever after” is so ambiguous. They lived happily ever after doing WHAT? My guess is they lived happily ever after slaying more dragons, having children and teaching them how to slay dragons. Arguing and making up. Building castles and training animals. Learning to love more, better, differently. My guess is that there are new homes and jobs and adventures. My guess is that LIFE keeps happening. That life is changing and evolving and frogs are becoming princes and heroes are being made. And sometimes it’s really really hard.
But we don’t tell that part.
And we don’t tell kids that happily ever after doesn’t START with a wedding. What if it starts after graduating from college? What if it starts the day you apply for a P.O. Box and realize, “Wow, I’m a real adult.” What if happily ever after starts when you find the community you want to call home? What if it happens when you decide to laugh instead of cry?
What if we told children not to worry about happily ever after?
What if we told them to pursue today?
What if we told them they don’t have to romanticize everything?
What if romance isn’t all there is to life?
Because, seriously people, we all know it isn’t. I’m a romantic. I want to have a companion to slay my dragons with me.
But until then I still get up and go to work, and play with my friends, and wash my dishes, and slay my own damn dragons. And you know what? I think my happily ever after started already.
And when it’s not so happy, well, screaming helps.