“…will the kid say, ‘Oh, I’m walking into the strange house, just like Goldilocks?! Maybe the kid will think..”
Apparently I had walked into a family discussion of the pros and cons of reading fairy tales to children.
I couldn’t help interrupting. “But Ma, I just want to say my experience – do you know that as a kid, it never once occurred to me that I should think of doing what Goldilocks did…? It was charming to me that she did all those things… but Goldilocks lived in a book! I never connected it to my life.”
“Yeah,” my sister Miriam jumped in. “Do you know, in The Cat in The Hat, my favorite part was when, on the last page, you saw the foot of the mother walking in? I was like, ‘oh my gosh, they have a mother???’ Goldilocks had a mother?? These were characters in books, and to me, they were so far removed.
But then…” she added thoughtfully. “When you look at Mollie… “
We looked at each other and laughed.
“Mollie lives her books,” my mother said.
“I’m Jawdge!” my sister imitated. “Look at me, I’m juggling on my bike!”
“And when I read her Goldilocks,” my mother added, “Oh! Does she live it!” I could easily imagine Mollie’s wide blue eyes, glued to the page to the exclusion of every conceivable distraction.
“And when we get to the end,” my mother continued dramatically, “and Goldilocks runs home to her mother’s arms, oh! Does she go into throes of ecstasy!” Mom closed her eyes in imagined bliss. “She is completely seeing herself wrapped up in her mother’s arms.”
Mollie’s parents are two very creative, passionate people. Those traits apparently compounded in their daughter, who bursts with nonstop thinking, talking, and feeling.
“Just look at what she did yesterday,” my mother said with all the pride of a Bubby-done-well. “She was sitting here at the table with a set of watercolors and a bowl of water. She was painting so nicely. Then, I see, she gets up, takes the paint set, walks over to the fridge and carefully puts it down. Then she goes back, takes the bowl of water, and carefully carries it over to the fridge.”
At this point, Miriam demonstrated, waddling like a rear-heavy duck carrying an imaginary bowl.
Mom nodded and continued. “I said, ‘Mollie, what are you doing?’ She said, ‘I’m painting the refrigerator.’ And LOOK!” Mom pointed, her face full of glowing pride.
I followed her pointed finger. There, indeed, on the bottom two feet of the white fridge, was a masterpiece of red, yellow, and orange art. Any modern artist would certainly have appreciated the bold streaks and blending of colors.
“Isn’t it beautiful?” My mother enthused. “She really worked at it! And then I told her to add some more orange, some more red… it kept her busy for quite a while!”
“Ma,” I exclaimed, “I can’t believe you let her do that!” Me, I would think, ‘why not…?’ It would offset all the messes I tend to make very nicely. But a balabuste…?
“Are you kidding??” my mother responded. “That’s not wanton or destructive! It’s art! She was so careful, she had it all planned out… and the fridge is perfect- a clean white canvas- what could be better?”
“True,” I said, “but a lot of mothers would look at it as wanton and destructive… just because you can wash it off doesn’t mean they wouldn’t instinctively jump to protect their precious kitchens.”
“Well, I called Mrs. Schwartz (Mollies other bubby),” my mother said, “and she said, (Mom’s face twisted with an imitation of the desperate einekel-yearning in Other-Bubby’s voice) ‘Mollie can come paint MY fridge too!!’”
Of course. Mrs. Schwartz would be only delighted and proud to have a fridge artistically designed by her granddaughter.
Maybe that’s why Mollie is such a delightful child, spilling over with passion and creativity.
The debate regarding Curious George and Goldilocks has not yet been definitively resolved. But one thing I know. As long as Mollie has parents and grandparents who give her paints, who sit with her and watch, and who proudly encourage her to splash with joy on the canvas of life…