This watercolor painting I did was inspired by a Japanese folktale. The story is about an old man married to a less-than-nice woman, and how she maliciously hurts his pet sparrow one day (cuts out its tongue!), causing the sparrow to fly away. When the old man goes in search for the bird, he discovers that the sparrow — despite its tonguelessness — can talk, and has a family in the woods that entertain the old man with food, drink and dancing. There is a moral about greed and cruelty, and the bitter wife gets punished in the end, but what I loved about the story as a little girl was the visual of dancing sparrows wearing kimonos.
I had lunch with a new friend yesterday and we were talking about how so many classic fairy/folk tales are filled with graphicly frightening stories. Modern day stories for kids are so often devoid of conflict with nary a scary or even truly sad element, which is all well and good, but sometimes I wonder if it’s necessary to make them all so Hollywood happy ending-ish? I don’t remember being horrified by the tongue-cutting of the sparrow story (though maybe I should gave been?), but do remember thinking how lovely it would be to discover that your pet could dance and communicate.
I spend a lot of time thinking of the balance between providing protection and awareness for my child. How do I help her cope with disappointment, loss, fear, hurt, danger, etc. etc. without traumatizing or coddling her? I believe stories help a lot.
This reminds me of an exchange I had with K the other day:
K: C’mon Mommy, we’ve gotta go to [friend's] house ASAP!
Me: Okay, okay, hold your horses…
K: Hey Mama? Did you know that ASAP comes from Aesop’s tales?