The Seventh Fairy Tale of the Modern Woman

Yesterday, my sister pointed out Six Fairy Tales for the Modern Woman. I said that mine is the sixth, because although we’re landlocked, I never wanted to learn to surf.

However, she noted that there’s not much mention of children, although child-raising is a perfectly valid life choice too. So, for my sister, here is the seventh fairy tale.


VII. Once upon a time, a girl reluctantly married her high school not-exactly-sweetheart because she didn’t want to raise their unexpected baby alone. This necessitated laying aside her plans for an eventual PhD, not to mention the part about becoming a permanently-single cat lady with a nicely-appointed heritage home in the university district and a grand piano in the living room. “Well,” she said to herself, “This certainly negates any possibility of Fairytale #1 coming true. Just look at the baby spit on everything. And I have no money to decorate the way I’d like.”

But over time, she realized she’d intuitively made this choice because the young man really was Prince Charming. It just took a few more kisses than the Fairytale Manual mentions. (Those old books are notorious for their missing pages.)

The girl and her sweetheart grew up together in their twenties, and they had four extremely quirky but well-loved children. They travelled the continent with their young family in their thirties. And when she had spent half her life with him (she was only 36 at the time, and he was 38), she looked at the grey in his hair and thought, “We’re not even old yet. How rich I am to have known him all this time, in all these ways.”

Then she walked into the kitchen and saw a young man, nearly grown, looking quietly at her with the intentness of a child memorizing all his mother’s expressions. She hadn’t raised her baby alone, and suddenly she was nearly done. Two young ladies were giggling and sharing secret thoughts. And a younger man hugged her round the waist as she went by.

The house she was in, they had built together. The gardens were tended by six pairs of hands. The shop was littered by the tools of all the children following after that man, whose life dream had always been to be a father and husband. And in the evenings, the children’s songs rose and drifted out the windows and into that faraway northern realm called The Land Where Rainbows Live.

Time turned on, as it tends to. She did not learn to surf at the age of 65, because she didn’t want to. The man had no interest in decorating, so she decorated the house however she wished, now that times were better. And she kept a promise she’d made to herself back in her twenties, which was to cultivate smile lines.

She suspected the wrinkles and wear-marks were caused by those children, who were always coming back to reread her face like a familiar old book from childhood. Honestly, it would make anyone a little dogeared, but it was also why her lines were happy ones. Her skin became thinner and delicate, but it reminded her of really beautiful tissue paper — or perhaps the onionskin of some sacred text, for this unexpected life had taught her that not all mystery has yet left the world.

And in her old age, her two sons smiled at her with their father’s blue eyes, and her two daughters laughed with the laughter of their father’s heart. The paper was certainly crinkled; but she was quite certain no pages were missing at all.

Fake Word of the Week

Rarely am I this snarky on the outside, but it’s almost always like this on the inside, and I decided in favour of novelty today. This is neither pro- or anti-state, pro- or anti-education system. It’s anti-bad-thinking. And now, your Fake Word of the Week.

Hypocrazy (n.): The false assumption of an appearance of virtue or religion, with particular reference to total illogic.

Source: Unintentional typo of an online friend.

Context: A friend of mine was recently informed by a self-appointed life critiquer that children belong to the state, not to parents. (Assuming children belong to anyone, I suppose there’s an argument to be had here…)

On that premise, the self-appointed critiquer concluded that “we taxpayers” have the right to monitor how “you homeschoolers” raise and educate children, because “we taxpayers’s” children have the right to live alongside others who will integrate peacefully and productively into the state. After all, that’s why the state gave birth to them from its own fleshy loins, right?

If there were a Darwin Award for sticking one’s finger in a logic light socket, this assertion would certainly be a nominee. In the (universally applicable, ultimately non-partisan) wisdom of Frank Caliendo, there’s two kinds of words: inside words and outside words. Inside words stay in, and outside words come out. I guess somebody’s inside words popped out.

Homeschoolers pay education taxes too, and thus (by this argument) have a right to demand that parents of public school children be held accountable for how they raise the next generation of civic and/or criminal irresponsibility to fruition. Not that no homeschoolers are criminals or all public schoolers are irresponsible, but as soon as we start talking about broad-brush accountability principles, the statistical realities of being the mainstream majority come back to bite one on the butt.

Hypocrazy, isn’t it.

How to Be a Writing Parent, In 13 Bazillion Easy Steps

1) Check to see that the kids are occupied elsewhere. All good? That’s what you think, but we’ll go with that.

2) Grab the headphones and fire up the laptop.

3) Write half a sentence. Answer the first knock on the bedroom door.

4) Pick the movie for movie night out of a stack of thirty DVDs that the 10-year-old has brought in and dumped on your bed.

5) Write three really fast sentences while the 12-year-old is playing with your toes and asking rapid-fire questions about why you don’t like your feet touched.

6) Write five more sentences while the 12-year-old and 15-year-old are playing a weird game on your bedroom floor where one of them lies face-down and the other one hauls on the arms to induce vertigo. Notice that vertigo is an incredibly loud syndrome.

7) Write two more sentences while the 12-year-old and 10-year-old sit on the couch in the next room and berate each other for wiggling. Notice that wiggling also has incredibly loud symptoms.

8) Give up and go watch a movie with the kids.

9) Shush the kids 50 times in 20 minutes.

10) Drink wine and wonder if you will ever put an entire coherent thought together again in your life.

11) Sneak into your room during their mid-show bathroom break and write two and a half more sentences.

12) Shush the kids, answer plot questions, deal with the 12-year-old’s complaints about Alan Rickman using a cutting sword incorrectly to stab Kevin Costner, say goodnight. Wonder how they got to be such nerds when they’re essentially feral.

13) Plan to write a bit now that the house is quiet; instead, fall asleep sitting upright with your laptop on your knee.