I bought Enchanted on DVD for my children today. Well I say for them but, as it has Dr McDreamy (Patrick Dempsey) in it, it might have been a tinsy bit for me too. I have seen it before I think, certainly the end, but the DVD wasn’t expensive and I thought my daughter would love it. I was wrong.
She’s possibly too young for a movie with violence (my son didn’t seem to mind though we did skip bits featuring the evil mother) but I thought the singing and the dress and all the things I love, like the happily ever after, would appeal to her too. Hmmm. Not so much.
I’m beginning to realise why I don’t always connect with my little girl. She has too much of my left brain and not enough of my right brain. Actually, I don’t know if that’s true. She is very creative, loves telling stories and creating masterpieces out of pipe-cleaners. But she is also extremely analytical and cuts through illusions with her razor-sharp questions. Maybe she is actually too much like me in all ways!
I love a happy ending, although I know they don’t often happen. I believe in a good world full of good people, though I know it isn’t always that easy to find. I am creative, with writing and art and photography, but I used to work as a number-cruncher and write analytical essays. When you get those charts saying, Left Brain or Right Brain? I am both.
I used to describe myself as a pessimistic optimist, expecting the best and fearing the worst. (Like the herd of young deer currently in the field to my left, warily keeping pace with us, although the dog thankfully hasn’t yet seen or heard them, lord knows how. They think they’ll be spotted but they’re hedging their bets. They should have stayed put or legged it as they’re actually following us up the field. Anyway I digress).
My daughter it seems is realist all the way. I already suspect her of seeing through my fairly pathetic Father Christmas lies. She’s four. When we talked about going to Disneyland, we first had to explain what it is (because I try not to let her watch TV adverts!). Once she’d grasped it, she said, “Mummy I think they’re probably people in costumes.” Oh dear. No magic dream there then.
I’ve always wanted to go to Disneyland, but only with a wide-eyed child to vicariously experience their awe and wonder. I suspect she’d rather we spent the four thousand pounds on a swimming pool. And she might have something there. Magic is all well and good, and the memories might last a lifetime with the right supporting evidence, but a pool’s a pool. We currently choose childcare and Mummy’s writing over an annual family holiday. I might write happy endings but I chose my husband on the Internet and as much with my head as my heart (you need to read Do You Like Jelly, if I ever get around to publishing my short stories!)
So, while I envied Giselle her magnificent ballgown and her dishy McDreamy, my daughter was asking me to play Guess Who. Like Patrick Dempsey’s character in Enchanted, I don’t want my daughter be so wrapped up in fairy tales that the real world disappoints her (like me with my ten-year search for my Georgette Heyer hero). But I’ve never discouraged her from reading Disney stories or watching the movies (okay, I edit out the bit in her fairytale book where the princess answers her marriage proposals with “Yes please.” I mean, really?) But somehow my practical, stripped bare, world view has rubbed off.
It makes me sad. I never intended or sought to take away the magic of being four. I wanted her to go to Disneyland and be wowed. Unfortunately this isn’t Miracle on 34th Street and Santa isn’t going to make her dreams come true. I’ll have to settle for writing HEAs and let my little princess carry on in her left brain world.
P.S. Daddy tells me she is starting to ask for girly stories at bedtime, so maybe I just need to wait a bit longer!
Below is the next installment in my novel Two-Hundred Steps Home: written in daily posts since 1st January as part of my 2013 365 Challenge. Read about the challenge here.You can catch up by downloading the free ebook volumes on the right hand side of the blog:
The cold air made Claire’s eyes water, as she waited, shivering, outside the hostel. A few paces away a cluster of people stood, giggling and shoving each other. They were a disparate crowd, although they all looked under twenty. Claire heard a range of accents, American, Irish, at least one that sounded Japanese. She wondered where they had met and formed such a close bond, and how they’d found time to come travelling together.
Feeling like she would give her left kidney for a hot coffee, Claire stared at her itinerary and tried to tune out the laughter and banter. It brought back too many unhappy memories. Why are youngsters so noisy? Don’t they know it’s before 7am? She glanced up at them, with their glowing, tanned, skin and happy smiles, and felt ancient.
I’m not even thirty, I’m not old. With a quick mental calculation she realised she was probably a decade older than most of the group.
They were probably all born in the nineties. Ugh.
It made her want to get on the next plane home; to go back to a normal life, with a job and a car and her own circle of friends.
Except I don’t have any friends.
A large green coach pulled up outside the hostel as the dark thought flashed in her mind. Feeling like a four-year-old on her first day at school, Claire shuffled nearer to the bunch of people as they jostled and scuffled good-humouredly to be the first on the bus. They greeted the driver by name, and he gave one or two of them a high five.
Wait a minute. Isn’t this the first stop on the bus? How come they all know each other?
Now it really did feel like the first day of school, except this time it was high school, when her parents had taken her away from her friends and launched her into private education. All her new classmates had come through the junior school together and she hadn’t known a single person. Character building, her parents had said.
With a shudder, Claire presented her ticket to the driver without looking up.
“Claire Carleton. Hmmm.”
The man scanned his list for too long. Claire felt her stomach clench on the empty space where breakfast would have been if she could have managed it.
“Are you sure you’re booked on?” He looked again, then flicked the paper over. “Ah, yes, there you are. Alright, Claire, on you get. Leave the sack with the others.” He cast his eyes towards the mountain of luggage by the side of the coach and then looked behind her, dismissing her from his mind.
Claire hadn’t heard anyone else approaching and was surprised to hear a deep English voice wishing the driver good morning.
At least I’m not the only solo traveller.
She chanced a quick glance as she added her rucksack to the pile. The newcomer was a dark man in his forties she guessed, by the grey sprinkled through his hair. His voice, low and smooth, sounded like a cello cutting through the chattering violins in a Brahms concerto. It resonated deep in her gut. He seemed to feel her eyes on him, and turned to meet her gaze. She flinched at the electric shock that ran from her head to her groin.
For goodness sake, girl, you’re like a dog on heat. You’re here to write travel stories and come up with a plan for the future, not eye up every sexy stranger like a child in a sweet shop.
Hiding her blush with her curtain of hair, Claire scurried past the newcomer and the driver, and went in search of an empty seat. The bus must have been half full on arrival, as nearly every seat was taken. At last she located an empty one at the back, and sank to the seat, placing her handbag on the spare seat, lest anyone get any ideas.
Out of the corner of her eye she saw the man climb aboard and languidly scan the bus before sauntering up the aisle. He had the grace and power of a panther.
Claire felt her heartbeat quicken as he came further down the bus. Oh crap, he’s going to sit next to me. Please don’t. She turned to look out of the window, following his progress with her ears.
She heard his deep voice say, “Good morning, may I join you?” It sounded slightly further away than it should. Turning her head a fraction, she saw he had stopped two seats away and was talking to a pretty redhead, who giggled and patted the seat next to her.
Slumping back into her seat, Claire closed her eyes and tried to go back to sleep.