Lies My Bedtime Stories Told Me

aladdin-1299675_640My parents, like many others, used to read me bedtime stories in an attempt to get me to fall asleep.  This almost never worked, but they couldn’t think of anything else and they weren’t allowed to dose me with whiskey, so they kept doing it.  What I didn’t realize until much later is that those stories my loving parents told me night after night were filled to the brim with lies.  By this, I don’t mean the talking animals or the magic beans—nothing so easily identified.  Here are some of my bedtime stories and the lying lies they told me:

Cinderella

Cinderella, if you truly need a recap, is the story of a beautiful girl whose evil stepmother forces her into a life of drudgery, making her work all the time and never letting her have friends or go to parties (she may have just been a tiger mom, I’m not sure).  Fortunately, on the night of the prince’s grand Let’s-Find-Me-A-Wife ball, Cinderella’s fairy godmother magics her raggedy clothes into a party dress and turns a pumpkin into a carriage so Cin can go get her freak on, with the warning that the carriage will turn back into a pumpkin at the stroke of midnight and it’s a long walk home in glass slippers.

carriage-1295752_640The lie this story told me was that you’re going to know exactly when the carriage will turn back into a pumpkin and you can totally plan around it.  The truth is, it can happen at any time.  You could be just walking in the door in your perfect magic ballgown, with everyone looking at you and the prince asking his courtiers, “Who’s the hottie,” when suddenly everything goes poof and you’re back in your raggedy dress, the prince is chatting up your stepsisters, and someone just made your carriage into a pie.

When things are about to turn to crap, you don’t have until the stroke of midnight and you don’t get a warning.  It just happens, fairy godmother or no fairy godmother, and the lesson you should really take from all this is to learn how to drive a pumpkin.

The Ugly Duckling

This is the story of a bird hatched out of a mother duck’s egg that everyone assumes, reasonably enough, is a duck.  The presumed duckling is so much uglier than the other ducklings that all the animals bully it and tease it until it runs away, lives in wretched isolation for a while, and finally decides to kill itself.  Fortunately, before it does so, it gets a glimpse of its reflection in the water and realizes that it has grown into a beautiful swan, and it flies happily away along with all the other swans.

swan-9489_640One of the lessons this story taught me was that, no matter how miserable you are as a child, as long as you grow up to be gorgeous, people will respect and admire you.  In addition to being disturbing and unhealthy, this is also untrue.  You may or may not grow up to be gorgeous, but even if you do, everyone back home is still going to think of you as the ugly duckling.  You could go to your high school reunion a week after appearing on the cover of Vogue and the first thing you’ll hear will be, “Look, everyone, it’s Ugly Duck!  Hey, Ugly Duck, remember how ugly you were?  Man, I’ve never seen a duck look that ugly!”  You can swan around all you want.  To them, you’ll always be that freak who tried to pass herself off as a duck back in the day.  On the upside, you’ll be able to beat them to death with your wings, so it’s not all bad.

Another lesson this story taught me was, maybe don’t be so mean to others that you make them want to die.  I think that lesson was pretty solid, though, so I’m leaving it off the list of lies.

The Little Red Hen

This is the story about the mother hen who found a grain of wheat and asked the other farmyard animals to help her plant it.  They all touched their snouts and beaks and said “Noes goes,” and the hen had to plant it herself.  The same thing happened when she had to harvest and thresh the wheat, mill it into flour, and bake it into bread.  Once the bread was ready to eat, the other animals were down to help, no problem, but the hen snapped her beak and said “Nyah, nyah,” and she and her chicks ate all the bread.

The lesson I learned from this story is that I’m the only one who has the right to enjoy the fruits of my labor.  I then discovered that this was a vicious, heartless lie when I got my first paycheck.  You see, no one had explained to me about tax withholdings.  It came as a nasty surprise when the government, noticeably absent from the planting, harvesting, threshing, milling, and baking portions of the proceedings, got very interested in my bread once all the work was done.  They got so interested, they snatched it right out of my hands.

chicken-45944_640Before I got even a crumb, the government had taken nearly half my bread and given it to all the barnyard animals who’d called nose dibs when it was time to do the work, because it didn’t want the poor things to starve.  I didn’t exactly want them to starve, but that was my bread!  I made it myself!  I should decide who gets it.  I’m still bitter about this, in case you can’t tell.  Stupid lying hen.  I hope she got ergot poisoning.

By the way, did you see what I did with the “bread” reference?  ‘Cause bread is slang for money?  Okay, I’ll stop.

Honorable Mentions:  Sleeping Beauty and Snow White

In both of these stories, it’s viewed as totally cool that the guys mack on the girls while the girls are unconscious.  It’s really not.  Like, at all.

These are just some of the lies my bedtime stories told me.  Parents, I’m not saying you’d be better off dosing your kids with whiskey to get them to go to sleep (that’s probably also a bad lesson to teach your kids).  Just, maybe stick with Good Night, Moon, or better yet, “The Itsy Bitsy Spider.”  That one’s nothing but truth.

 

[all images are in the public domain via pixabay.com]

Why My Dad Is The World’s Best Dad: With Examples

Father's Day Cake by Jason Trommetter on Flickr

Father’s Day Cake by Jason Trommetter on Flickr

I’ve seen a lot of merchandise out there in anticipation of Father’s Day, or more accurately in anticipation of cashing in on Father’s Day.  I’ve seen any number of mugs and T-shirts saying “World’s Best Dad” and foam fingers proclaiming the wearer to be “#1 Dad”.  What I haven’t seen is any evidence to back up these claims.  I mean, anyone can wear a t-shirt and drink from a mug.  Most people can even bring themselves to wear foam fingers from time to time.  But I have yet to see a treatise laying out the reasons that one’s particular father is the best in the world.  And I think I know why.

Because my Dad is the best in the world.

In keeping with my opening paragraph, I’m going to lay out the reasons why.  I fully realize that many of you may disagree and say that your father is the best in the world, and I’m ready to admit that there may be a tie for this position, but I’m going to need to hear the reasons before I concede the stalemate.  Here are mine:

  1. The Sledgehammer:  One of my earliest memories is of my father handing my sister and me a sledgehammer and telling us to knock down a wall.  He was remodeling the house from roof to basement, and the house was mostly plaster for a year or two.  If you didn’t put a cloth over your belongings, you came back to find them coated in white dust.  We’ll find out eventually, I’m sure, that breathing in plaster causes some horrific medical condition, but it was totally worth it to be a five-year-old wielding an adult-approved sledgehammer.  Even if I couldn’t lift it yet.
  2. Democrats are Evil:  My father and I were arguing about politics one evening.  I know, I know, not a good call, but there was an election approaching and I hadn’t yet come up with Life Rule #37:  Never Argue Politics With Dad.  I made some clever, witty observation (I’m assuming; I don’t actually remember), and my father, a staunch Republican, made the comment “All Democrats are evil.”  I said, a bit miffed, “I’m a Democrat!  Does that mean I’m evil?”  To which he replied, “You’re not evil; you’re just misguided.”  Best comeback line ever.
  3. BBQ SNAFU:  I was out with a few fellow graduate students on a summer afternoon.  We went to a local park where there were grills available for public use.  We brought hamburger patties, rolls, fixins, charcoal, etc.  We totally had it covered.  Except that, when we got there, we discovered that no one among the dozen or so of us there actually knew how to use the grill.  I hadn’t worried about it because I assumed that all guys know how to do this, which I realize is a total feminist fail.  Everyone just sort of milled around, debating possible approaches but never actually doing anything useful, which now that I think about it is a pretty good analogy for grad school in general.  I, however, being the daughter of an engineer and a science teacher, knew exactly what to do:  I called my father.  He gave us step-by-step instructions to get the bricks placed correctly and the fire going, and they worked perfectly.  That, however, is not what makes him so awesome.  The part of this story that makes him so awesome is that he picked up the phone right away, was totally ready to drop what he was doing to help his daughter, and knew exactly what to do even with no warning.  World’s best Dad!
  4. Night School:  When I was a little blind baby, my mother went back to school.  She went to night school because my Dad worked during the day and, strangely, the school wouldn’t admit a squalling infant.  That meant that childcare fell largely to my father in the evenings.  You know those commercials where moms fantasize about fathers who happily share child care duties and don’t think it’s somehow emasculating?  My dad is that dad.  We hung out, him and me, chillin’ at home while the Moms was in class.  He had it under control:  diapers?  Check.  Formula?  Check.  Baby who won’t stop crying until you pick her up and rock her?  Check.  Forming unbreakable bond with tiny baby girl?  Massive check.  Right now you’re thinking, that is the pinnacle of awesomeness.  She can’t possibly top that.  And yet, I can:
  5. When a Fail Really Isn’t:  For those of you who don’t know, I’m adopted.  I was having a conversation with my father recently about health issues.  He told me I ought to get such and such checked out because it was a serious issue on my mother’s side of the family.  I looked at him a little funny and asked which mother he was talking about, biological or adoptive.  He looked completely blank, then sheepish:  he forgot I was adopted.  He completely forgot that I’m not his biological daughter because he really, honestly loves me and thinks of me just as if I shared his DNA.  I was going to dare you all to top that, but I know you can’t.  My dad really is the World’s Best Dad.

And so is yours.  Everyone’s got a list.  I encourage everyone else to let their fathers know what’s on their list, because many dads don’t realize how incredible they are.  Happy Father’s Day!