Cinderella is no longer appealing to me
On the farm we had a swing set-a sturdy homemade iron bar with two sets of thick chains. Two wooden seats, rubbed smooth by my sister and I, were attached to the chains. I had a few town friends who got to play on plastic seats on petite chains, a slide, and a two-person bench swing that allowed you both to grab onto the bars, leaning forward and back to go faster as you faced each other.
I envied those swing sets and loved to play on them. Even better, when we were in town visiting friends we’d sometimes get to play at the park-with its tornado slide, the clubhouse in the air, and the giant swing sets that let you soar really high.
There were times I wished we lived in town, where there was ‘real’ playground equipment, not homemade. But I also realized that some of my farm-kid neighbors didn’t have any swing set at all. Besides, swinging all day got tiring. The full-grown tree groves, surrounding the yard, provided endless fort-making adventures. And riding my bicycle, or the four-wheeler, down the dirt roads and open fields was the best. (So was going to the pasture to check the cattle on a gorgeous summer evening.)
You can’t have it all, but you can learn to really love what you do have, so we made the best of it on that farm.
When it was too hot to be out running around, I read a lot of books. Public TV was the only channel, of the four available, which wasn’t fuzzy. The lack of entertainment options made books appealing. I was especially in love with all the ‘free’ Disney storybooks that came from a mail order club. Mom fell for the marketing attempts but eventually cancelled our membership when books kept coming, along with hefty invoices.
When the new installments disappeared from the mailbox,
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it was okay with me. I loved some of the original books so much I didn’t mind re-reading them again and again. Before I knew how to actually read the words in the pale pink book with a blonde princess on the cover, I could recite the entire story. If mom wasn’t there to read it to me I poured over the pictures. I lingered on the page where the birds were holding the hem of Cinderella’s blue dress as she prepared, at the last minute, for the ball. I wished for blonde hair, blue eyes, and a fairy godmother of my own to give me everything I thought I ever wanted.
Yet a part of me knew that I would never be Cinderella outside of my daydreams. So one day I sat under the window air conditioner and wondered about the woman who got to say ‘poof.’ She showed up in the middle of the story with a dimpled smile, a plump waist, and a wand in her hand. The fairy godmother character seemed more attainable. She also seemed happier… but she had white hair and she was old. Nope, I still longed to be Cinderella-magically transformed and rescued from a miserable life of hard work and mistreatment into a gorgeous young princess.
I hadn’t let go of my fairy tale dreams, but for the first time I had the thought: what would it feel like to create a fairy tale for someone else-to reveal something that was there all along, but hidden from view?
Of course now that I’ve grown up and met my prince, swing sets make me nauseous and Cinderella is no longer appealing. There’s too much pressure in being the heroine; you have to wear heels and hairspray and eyelashes. It seems much more fun, and realistic, to sport a no-fuss hairdo, to throw on a skirt with an elastic waistband, and to give generously to something else, or someone else, that is in need of a transformation.
Clearly I’m not alone in this thought. This past spring the Roscoe Commercial Club sent out an appeal for donations to replace the equipment at our city park. In a few months they have already raised over $85,000 (with donations still coming in) which greatly exceeded their $60,000 goal. The new (and upgraded) playground equipment is scheduled for installation this weekend. Turns out a whole bunch of folks in this community were happy to help, which says a lot about Roscoe (it’s awesome!).
Someday soon enough the kids will grow up and realize it’s the generous ‘godmothers’ that actually have the most fun in life. Until then a new generation of Cinderella girls and Handsome Prince boys, can go ahead and have a ball (on the new playground equipment).
Andrea Beyers lives in Roscoe. Contact her at email@example.com.