Wednesday, November 04, 2009

All's Well That Ends Well

I notice lately that the not so happy ending stories upset Pattu considerably. There we two specific instances that revealed this:
1. The Pied Piper of Hamlin - she was so upset that the Pied Piper took the children into the cave on the mountain leaving their mothers pining after them. She would ask: 'then what did the mothers do?' , 'Didn't the mothers cry?' and so on.
I tried to explain that the Piper did that to teach the bad mayor a lesson and that the kids had lots to eat and play inside the cave and they were very happy etc...but she would have none of those. She insisted that the Piper was indeed the bad man since he took the kids away from their parents and she was almost at the verge of tears that made me alter the ending to, 'and then the kids returned to their mothers and they lived happily ever after...'

2. The other instance is more recent - we were singing Rock-a-by-baby and by the time we came to the last line, Pattu came running to me and burried her face on my lap, clutching me tight. After some, 'what happened?' she tells me, 'this is a bad song, let's not sing it...'
..and after some 'why's, it comes out, 'where did the baby's mother go leaving the baby to fall?', 'did the baby get hurt?' etc... It was a revelation that she paid so much attention to the lyrics! So, again we made some changes to the lyrics to make it 'happier' ...

This got me curious and led me to look up on when it would be a good time for kids to be exposed to the not so happy stories and found some interesting links:

http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/specials/edinburgh/article6808533.ece
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/authorinterviews/6111573/Michael-Morpurgo-we-dont-read-to-our-children-enough.html
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-485644/Campaigning-parents-plan-burn-childrens-books-grisly-endings.html

Interesting things that I found:
1.Children up to a certain age slot characters in black and white - they are either 'Good' or 'Bad'. 'Grey' characters confuse them. I guess that's why Pattu couldn't see the 'good side' of the Pied Piper.
2. Fantasies are important for children - it helps them explore a world that they don't 'see'.
3. Children at some stage (whenever they are ready) have to be introduced to the 'not-so-happy-endings' - it need not be grisly or gloomy but something that's sad, but indicates that there's hope still... like for instance, not getting what you want but you still go on and make something out of life ...
4. Open endings are a good way to let the child ponder over possible endings , debate them and explore their feelings.

However, what is most important is that they have to be introduced to these at the right stage. I guess that's the role that we, as parents should play.

It would be interesting to hear your views - please air them here...

10 comments:

soin said...

i dont know much.but am happy that the kids not cynical in this quite cynical world.being a cynic has become fashion.and munu vayasula pied piper??i remember learning it quite late..free

Anonymous said...

Dear, I just agreee every every bit of it. Aryan's school says no fairy tail, but i still go with pide piper and otherr stuffs and even aryan felt very sad about kids being shut in den. Well, to make it happy I twist the story and say that " Papa came and fought and saved the kids this that", but I guess your point about Kids being exposed to sad endings sounds perfectly right...
Very well corelated thought yaar...

But what is the age limit to introduce not happy endings?

I need to research more I guess....

BTw, how are you?

Jayashree said...

T too wasn't very happy with the Pied piper ending.....so we changed it a bit. Same with the wicked witch giving Snow White a poisoned apple and Cinderella being treated badly by her stepmother.

Anonymous said...

True!! My kid( 3yrs) asks me too many questions when i tell him a story with sad end or not so happy...and absolutely no questions with happy ending stories...
I conclude it this way, he does not like sad ending stories, it troubles him and he would ask me questions by which he will take it towards happy...

Uma said...

Soin: Yeah, I've noticed that trend too... Well, this is an abridged, simplified Pied Piper for a 3 yr old.

Uma said...

Anonymous (Aryan's Mom I guess) : School says no fairy tale? Am surprised! I think we shouldn't deny a fantastic world to our children...its beautiful! Moreover, I don't think its strictly an age issue - we just have to judge when it is right to expose them... some kids might take to it earlier than the others
And ..I'm doing fine - just been busy last 2 weeks... thanks for asking...

Jayashree: That's interesting to note... but Adya didn't have an issue with Cindrella since the ending was a happy one.

Anonymous: You are right - it seems to trouble them - looks like 3 is definitely not the right age to introduce this...

Swati said...

Hmm..never thought about it ..but yes even Aryan doesnot like to see/hear sad and angry things.If someone cries he becomes upset. If hunter comes in story he feels scared. I think its natural and that they are growing to learn different emotions and how they affect ppl. I don't think that this is the age to introduce sad endings to them. I do believe in giving stories without giving the moral of the story and let him think it over and interpret the way he wants

Uma said...

Swati - I think it is ok to introduce them to different emotions through the story as long as it doesn't leave them feeling bitter. That's why the emphasis is on the 'ending' I guess.

Monika,Ansh said...

I have also wondered often why so many rhymes have unhappy endings......from Jack & Jill to HUmpty Dumpty.

Uma said...

Monika Ansh: True - most of them refer to political/ other historical events...