Happily Ever After

We have company at the moment, and this means that my 3-year-old daughter has been booted out of her bedroom and is now occupying the lower half of my 8-year-old son’s bunk beds. (She is thrilled about this, I might add—it is a special treat to be welcomed into Big Brother’s sanctum.)

In a rare show of filial tenderness, my son offered to tell her a bedtime story last night. He chose Rumplestiltskin.

I sat in the dark and listened to him tell this story of a braggart father, a ruthless king, and a hapless young woman at the mercy of the men in her life.

(For those of you who might have forgotten, here’s the story.)

What fascinated me was my son’s ending of the story… “and the King and the Queen lived happily ever after.”

How could that be, I wondered?

How could you live happily ever after with a man who had threatened—not once, but three times—to kill you if you didn’t accomplish the impossible before breakfast?

I also wondered what the girl would do if/when the treasury got a little low on change, and the king popped round with a “Darling, we’re running out of money again. I need you to spin some more straw into gold.” What happens when you can’t repeat the impossible?

I think I need to have a discussion with my kids about the meaning of “happily ever after.”