We’re midway through a short week thanks to having just come out of a long weekend up here in Canada in honour of Queen Victoria.
So let’s hear it for Queen Vic!
(And so do Rebels! That will make sense later.)
It’s been a busy few days of gardening, cleaning and outdoor fun.
But I also got to spend more time than usual with my 4-year-old and 2-year-old enjoying some good, young, girly princess fun.
Because preschool girl land?
Is all about princesses and princes, and fairies, magic and happily ever after.
So for this week’s contribution to Jackie’s musical A-Z, E is for just that: Enchantment and Ever Afters.
Because I think we could all use a bit more enchantment in life.
Some Enchanted Evening – South Pacific (1949)
Okay, so this one isn’t courtesy of my preschoolers, but as soon as I thought about the theme of enchantment, romance, and the ideal of romantic courtship, well – this was the song I started humming. It’s from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical South Pacific and, courtesy of Wikipedia, I can tell you with some confidence that it’s the most popular hit to come out of any of their shows.
Some enchanted evening, when you find your true love
When you feel her call you across a crowded room.
Then fly to her side and make her your own;
Or all through your life you may dream all alone.
Once you have found her, never let her go;
Once you have found her, never let her go.
It’s the traditional, romantic ideal. Your eyes meet across that crowded room and you both just know.
What happens next?
Well, any preschooler knows that.
They all live Happily Ever After!
Now that we’re clear on the formula, let’s move on.
Children’s entertainment over the years has helpfully expanded on the theme to help answer that eternal question: How do you Know?
For my next selection, I give you:
That’s How You Know – Disney’s Enchanted (2007)
This was my 4-year-old’s favourite movie for about two months last year, so we got to know it quite well. For those who haven’t seen it, it’s a delightful plot. It starts with the quintessential cartoon Disney princess, who meets her prince. But then the prince’s mother – the evil queen – successfully plots to banish her to non-cartoon New York. Her gallant (and comic) prince goes after her, but in the meantime she meets Patrick Dempsey’s character and young daughter; delights everyone around her with her idealistic view of true love and ability to talk to animals; and general mayhem ensues. Among other things, I love the nod to the Sound of Music where she makes a dress out of the curtains, and the fact that the evil queen is played by Susan Sarandon.
When we grow up, we are to leave the childish behind. But happily ever after? While it’s a theme sometimes met with cynicism born from experience, I’d like to think we never completely abandon it. We want to believe it works like that. Example? I queried Enchanted and found this:
Enchanted – Taylor Swift (2010)
I’d never heard this song until I queried “Enchanted” on You Tube to see what came up. I have to say I like the song and I love that Taylor Swift, based on what I hear about her on the radio on my morning drive in to work, has yet to give up on the concept of happily ever afters. I also like the video, even though I struggled a bit with my like of it, as it’s got all the pretty, girly, whimsy you are supposed to outgrow – it’s all poofy dresses and carousels and completely unchallenging of any female stereotype, but the imagery is immediately soothing in how recognizable it is. And the song and its sentiment are beautiful. Simple description of that first meeting and its impact.
I also found it interesting, based on a quick read, that the album, called Speak Now, was originally to be titled Enchanted, but was changed when it was suggested to the star that fairy tales and high school weren’t where she was at anymore.
It’s an interesting comment from a number of perspectives: that there should be a time to move on from “all this”; that there is a perception you should; that anyone but you should decide when that is.
Either way, I think the fantasy is pretty deeply ingrained by the time you get through childhood. Whether that’s good or bad, and what should or could be done about it?
Well, as a mom, I can offer my girls a balance of fiction and entertainment and teach them to look at the world critically, while still appreciating all the beauty and hope it offers.
And if you’re Disney? You can offer up the princess who goes all Kelly Taylor and chooses herself.
Let it Go – Elsa from Frozen (2013)
So first off, see how I did that? See how I made it an E song? Let’s hear it for Elsa!
Next, if ever you were looking for a moment in song about being free and comfortable with yourself and who you are, by yourself, look no further. There she is, alone in the mountains, realizing she no longer needs to hide who she is to be accepted by others, realizing she no longer needs to pretend she isn’t powerful. And she rejoices in this as she fearlessly uses her powers to build and create what she needs for herself.
That said, if alone on a mountaintop isn’t quite the empowerment you are looking for, my 4-year-old, courtesy of Netflix and the fact it was a cartoon, recently discovered this:
Ever After High – Stevie Dore (2013)
I was thrown a bit by the dolls (and then by the fact they were a Monster High spin off), but the plot is clever – AND not a bad way to start to have (really) simple conversations with my 4-year-old about the stories we read and how they might end differently. If nothing else, it’s an exercise in imagination.
Briefly, Ever After High is the Boarding School for the sons and daughters of fairy tale characters. These children are destined to follow in their parents footsteps in order to keep their stories alive for future generations. If they do not commit to doing so, they are told their stories will cease to exist.
There are two factions at the school. The Royals: Led by Apple White, Snow White’s daughter, embrace their destinies. The Rebels: Led by Raven Queen, the daughter of the Evil Queen (and Apple White’s roommate, because that’s not awkward), have decided to reject their destiny and instead make their own stories.
While my daughter is too young for much of the messaging and mostly just gets that it’s about princesses and fairy tale characters, it’s a fun way to ponder the what ifs in life.
No more once upon a time,
No more verse, no more rhyme,
No more permanent ink,
This is not what you think.
It’s a Rebel cause,
With a Royal heart,
Rewrite, ignite, restart!
Cause it’s your life,
It’s your time,
Go forward or rewind!
I picture the mainly tween (I would presume) audience moving on to the work of Gregory Maguire (Wicked) from here. And the comments on the You Tube video, with any number of girls declaring themselves Rebel just makes me happy.
So that was my list of Enchanting Ever After Songs. I hope you enjoyed it, and leave with a reinforced belief in happily ever afters.
Clare Flourish said:
I love the way “Let it Go” is a stage to go through, the rebellion and self-acceptance- castle in the mountain alone- before integrating and moving on.
Great songs. I am still keen on princesses.
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I agree on your point for “Let it Go” (which I think also applies to the last one if we stretch to the general “finding yourself” theme) – although a castle in the mountain alone STILL just generally appeals to the introvert in me once in a while.
As for princesses? While I dutifully asked to be one for Halloween one year growing up, I was actually never huge on them. But I’m rediscovering and enjoying princess tales now. And I loved Drew Barrymore’s Ever After movie as a teen, so they obviously featured somewhere in my upbringing 😉
My youngest daughter is 23. We never went through the princess stage, though we did watch a lot of Disney movies. I guess they just didn’t do princesses. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, now that’s what I got in our house. ^_^
I just now, for the very first time, heard “Let it Go” on the air right before I read this blog. That’s how long it’s been since I’ve had a kid in my house. I don’t hear Disney songs until they make it to the airwaves. ahahahaha!
I read this book when my eldest was still under a year called “Cinderella Ate my Daughter” all about princess culture and such with young girls and it made the point that the whole “Disney Princess” phenomenon like it is today really didn’t get underway until about 2000 – ie: that Disney didn’t start marketing the Princesses together in a group until then. So I think before then it was less pronounced generally. Ie: I grew up with Disney, but I didn’t grow up with the Disney Princess brand on everything I owned. I think that probably makes a difference.
And I loved TMNT growing up! Turtle Power!
Melanie at My Ottawa Life said:
Like you, I was a princess several years running for Halloween and loved me some classic Disney growing up, but didn’t have the princess branding stamped into my head quite as much. It’s interesting to think about navigating this with your girls, trying to balance the princess-ness with the real world. I’m glad Disney is coming up with some more realistic role models – and I also adored Ever After!
I need to watch Enchanted. I think I feel asleep to it o a plane once, but I’ve been told countless time I look like the main character. Not Amy Adams – but like her as a princess. I wonder what that says about me (I’m hoping it’s the hair?)!
Had a moment in the garden today when my 4-year-old daughter played happily with a worm for 40 minutes and was fascinated when she “accidentally” broke it in two and it still lived. Despite the fact she thinks her hug was the main contributing factor there, it made me feel I was adequately balancing out princess power with other stimulate.
As for Enchanted – it’s really very fun, so if it is ever on TV when you have a couple hours to spare, it’s worth a watch. As for what it says about you that you are compared to Giselle? Well, my daughter would think you were a goddess. Me, yeah, maybe the hair? 😉
Aussa Lorens said:
You totally derailed me with that frozen clip. I’ve listened to the song a few thousand times but haven’t actually seen the movie so I had to sit there and watch that whole thing. Excellent. Also, I love me some T. Swift and I secretly still want to be a princess, but the kind that everyone leaves alone. So this was all right up my alley 😉
If you ever wish to build twin fortresses of solitude, let me know. I’d opt for sun rather than snow (unlike Elsa, the cold bothers me. I’m a bad Canadian) – but we could pick adjoining islands and if either one of us ever felt the need for socialization (beyond an Internet connection, of course) we could row over and visit one another (with notice, of course). We could bring Olaf with us and share custody seeing he always wanted to see sun too 😉
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