"Yeah." They nodded.
"Well, when you write a story, if you figure out the beginning and end, you can put all sorts of juicy stuff in the middle. It works better since you know where you're going. Otherwise it's like a runaway train."
"With a juicy worm middle?" The Hippie crinkled her nose like she hadn't heard anything else.
So, the next day while The Hippie was complaining about reading, and The Scribe shushed her. Doctor Jones took a bath and The Zombie Elf accidentally put shampoo in his eyes.
I nearly screamed. "Fine!" I yelled so loud everyone stopped babbling. "If everyone will stop crying, then we'll have story night! It's The Hippie's turn to read."
So, after Doctor Jones smelled like sunshine and The Zombie Elf's poor eyes no longer hurt (but still pulsed red), we settled down for The Hippie (my six-year-old) to read a book.
"Once upon a time." She cleared her throat. "Two children lived with their father who was a woodcutter. Now in this house, there was nothing to eat, so the woodcutter's wife pulled her husband aside and said, 'take the children into the middle of the forest and leave them there or we'll all starve'." At this point all of my children gasped, except for Doctor Jones who cooed and tried to eat a piece of garbage off the floor.
"He didn't do it, did he?" The Hippie asked.
"Haven't you heard the story of Hansel and Gretel?" I asked.
"Yeah, but Grandma Gertie told us a better version. The kids went into the forest even though their parents told them not too. Then they got lost because they'd been bad."
I laughed at the ceiling. Leave it to Gertie to weave a moral into the story. "Well, this is the real story. You won't believe what happens next. Go on."
"The woodcutter took them deep into the forest. He told the children to stay put while he cut wood, then he never came back." The Hippie read about the forlorn children and the trail of breadcrumbs. She read about a yummy house and a wicked witch. They all paled when Gretel pushed the fiend into the oven, then nodded when Hansel found his wood-cutting-father in the woods again.
When The Hippie finished, she shut the book and frowned, less than pleased.
"What's wrong, honey?" I asked.
"I don't like that story. It wasn't written well. It's a bad worm."
"Are you kidding? It had adventure . . . candy . . . magic. Plus, it's pretty famous."
"That doesn't make it good." She folded her legs Indian-style and stared at me. "Take that bread. What kind of a kid would leave a trail of food in the forest? Animals eat food. That makes me think they were either dumb or wanted to get lost."
"Maybe she was little."
"She wasn't younger than six and I'd know better than that. Anyway, the worst part of the story is that they forgave the father. He left them in the forest. How did they know he wouldn't do it again?"
I swallowed. Social Services would have taken those kids away in a heartbeat. Sure he didn't try to eat them like the witch did, but he was almost as bad. He left them for the animals to get! Maybe that evil wood cutter should have gotten the death penalty! Plus, what happened to his wife? I love how they never "say" step-mom. What happened to that beast who wanted to have all the food to herself? I hope she died of obesity! I shook my head; in all the years that I've heard the story of Hansel and Gretel, I never once questioned the forgiveness factor.
"They killed the witch, right?" The Hippie asked and I nodded. "Then why didn't they forget about their father and just live in the candy house? That's way better than living with someone who left you in a forest."
I seriously didn't know what to say. "So you wouldn't have forgiven him? He was their dad."
"He wasn't a good one," The Hippie said.
The Scribe smiled, really big and nodded. "Yeah, there's a difference between forgiving and just being stupid. Hansel and Gretel, well, they were stupid."
So, that was the end of storytime and now part of me regrets telling the kids how to write a story--especially since I had nightmares that night.
My kids will never look at fairytales the same, which kinda sucks worse than brimstone. I told Cade what The Hippie said.
"She wouldn't forgive the father?" he asked.
"No, can you believe she even thought of that?"
"Wow," Cade said. "I better not get on her bad side."
Anyway, I have two questions for you:
What would you have done?
Would you have forgiven your father,
or gone to live in the magical candy house?