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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!

Royals Rock!

(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.