Every evening after the gentle trauma of trying to teach Finley to read with the muddily business that is phonics, I bath him, dress him in flannel pyjamas, and we get snuggled up in his dimly lit cosy bedroom to begin all over again the process of reminding him why books are fun.
At the moment we are reading a mammoth sized book of traditional fairytales and oh heavens what an education it has been. For me.
So there we are, me and my mini innocent little me. We have already dealt with the blood and guts that was Little Red Riding Hood and I have explained that yes perhaps it was a bit mean for the little girl to happen across a sleeping wolf and feel it necessary to slice open his tummy and standing in a pool of blood, pull Grandma out, apparently, alive and well.
Why wasn’t she chewed Mummy?
We have done that. I have answered his awkward questions and we have turned the page and moved on to Rapunzel.
Ah, Rapunzel, Rapunzel, in the version of the fairytale we are reading, you let down more than your hair didn’t you?
Perhaps I am bad minded or perhaps we really are reading the slapper version of this cautionary tale.
You see night after night, Rapunzel drags the Prince up into her tower via her excessively long plait and they fall a bit in love and life seems rosy if a little restricted, and then the wicked witch finds them together and after the Prince is gone, banishes Darling Rapunzel to some faraway woods and tricks the Prince into climbing her plaited hair piece. And the Prince shocked to find a warty old crone instead of his beautiful young lady, kills her (but not before she has blinded him!) and set’s off to find Rapunzel.
And find her he does, dear Readers.
In the woods, in a clearing, where she has just given birth to twins.
I stop reading, open mouthed. Finley looks at me and I can already see the words “special hug” forming on his lips as he stares at the image of the Prince and his Princess To Be in a passionate clench. (Because he is ridiculously bright and watches too much Emmerdale.) So I start mimicking the action for the letter “T” (pretend me dears, you are watching a tennis match and swing your head from side to side), like some kind of demented monkey, insist he shows me the word “the” on the page and agree that yes, it probably would be a good idea if all the twins in the world were called Cathy and Heathcliff.
And then I kiss my little babba on the head, go through the Goodnight, I love you, God bless, what does bless mean, does God blow you a kiss, yes I love you too routine and walk down stairs shaking my head in minor mortification at the morals of women with overly long hair and indeed what the dear old Brothers Grimm were thinking of!
It’s Hansel and Gretel tonight and and who knows what moral dilemmas that one is going to present.