It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Compromising with Reality

Once upon a time, there was a Young Mummy. She was a pretty Earnest Mummy, too, though three years of mothering and another baby on the way had battered burnished off some off the more egregious examples. Still, she endeavored to raise her daughter according to her principles. Principles which included all manner of worthy things, like teaching her daughter to manage her emotions, to work hard to achieve her goals, to be self-assertive yet considerate, to eat her greens.

Young Mummy’s little girl did not watch television at all until she was two and a half. Television, Young Mummy believed, was a pernicious influence on developing minds, and besides, we had better things to do with our time! Even books were evaluated with a stern and gimlet eye. Only enriching, empowering ideas for this mummy’s daughter!

Which is why, when doting grandparents gave the little girl a Cinderella video (this story happened years before DVD’s) for Christmas, the Young Mummy found herself on the horns of a dilemma. Disney’s Cinderella was so many things the Mummy deplored: It was television (pre-recorded or live: it was still ‘television’ to her). Worse, it was a story with a terrible moral for a developing young mind, particularly a female one. “Just be pretty, passive and obedient, and your Prince will come and solve all your problems for you!!!

The young mummy rolled her eyes. But it was Christmas, and the grandparents were thrilled by their gift, and who wants to be ungrateful at Christmas? Consideration and kindness were two of the values Young Mummy wanted to instill in her child, after all. Time to act on her own principles! Let the child watch the thing once, to give Grampa and Gramma the pleasure, and then ‘lose’ it in the fuss and commotion of the festivities.

And so the Little Girl watched Cinderella.

And the Little Girl was ENTRANCED.

Little Girl watched Cinderella three times over the week spent at Gramma and Grampa’s, and then travelled home with the video cradled in her arms, a much-beloved baby.

Okay, so this wasn’t optimal, but Young Mummy figured she could watch Cinderella with the Little Girl when they got home, and chat about it with her. Do a de-brief. Combat the insidious message. Plant the seeds of rebellion in her daughter’s mind. Give her an opposing viewpoint.

I have mentioned the Young Mummy was pregnant. After Christmas, she entered her third trimester, and all that lovely second-trimester energy draaaaaaaained away. Drained away entirely. Now the Young Mummy was tired. Tired, tired, tired all the time.

And unlike her first pregnancy, she could not nap when she was tired. She now had a three-year-old to care for. A three-year-old who, though she slept twelve lovely, unbroken hours each night, did not nap. Ever.

And oh, how Young Mummy craved a nap!

When the Little Girl asked Young Mummy if she could watch Cinderella one long and weary afternoon, the Mummy agreed. She had, after all, promised herself she would watch the thing with her daughter. They could snuggle up together on the couch, and Young Mummy could talk to her daughter about what they were seeing. So they lied down, Mummy set the video to play, the credits began…

and the Young Mummy fell asleep.

And stayed that way until her daughter wriggled off the couch. “It’s done, Mummy!”

An hour and fifteen minutes had passed. An hour and fifteen minutes in which the Little Girl had not stirred. An hour and fifteen minutes of blessed, blessed sleep.

And that is how it happened. For the last two and a half months of her pregnancy, the Young Mummy had a 75-minute nap Every.Single.Afternoon … And Every.Single.Afternoon her daughter sat immersed in The Cinderella Message.

The Young Mummy might have felt more guilty had she not been so very tired. She might have chosen a different video, perhaps … had she not been so very tired. But the latter weeks of pregnancy brought with it late pregnancy brain-rot (she honestly didn’t think of getting a different show) and inertia (she wouldn’t have wanted to go out and get one, even had she thought of it). She was only grateful. So very, very grateful for that daily nap.

Did she worry that she was rotting her poor daughter’s mind? Not so very much. Worrying takes energy, and she had none. At this point, it was all about survival.

Was the daughter scarred for life by 60-some doses of The Cinderella Story in her formative years?

I dunno.

You’ll have to ask her.

August 31, 2011 - Posted by | my kids, parenting, pregnancy and delivery, socializing | , , , , ,


  1. Ha! I love it. Doesn’t look to me like she’s the type to just sit around and wait for a fairy godmother.

    This story (yours, I mean, not Cinderella) is so familiar to me. Fortunately, my 2 yr-old son was still napping when I was in that 3rd trimester with his younger brother – I truly don’t know how I’d have survived without. And, like in your story, eldest son had hardly watched TV ever at that point. Then I found myself needing to breastfeed a new baby day in, day out, and needing 2 yr old son to be still and calm for that time. That’s when I discovered the true value of DVDs! Obviously, there was many a twinge of guilt – especially the day I said “I need to feed the baby” and he said “Yay, I’ll turn the TV on!”. But we got through that phase, as you do, and the amount of TV watching decreased again.

    Comment by Kate R | August 31, 2011 | Reply

  2. I think the same thing about the CInderella story. bleh. But I LOVED Cinderella 3. She had to fight to get her man. Cinderella was much improved by time.

    My second pregnancy savior was Elmo in Grouchland. 🙂

    Comment by ktjrdn | August 31, 2011 | Reply

  3. It was My Neighbor Totoro for us, each girl with the subsequent pregnancy. It is a LOVELY film but frankly, when I was pregnant with my 3rd, I would have put in just about any video to get that precious nap.

    everything in moderation.

    Comment by Bridgett | August 31, 2011 | Reply

  4. When my mother was pregnant with my youngest sister (and I was 10) my then-toddler sister watched The White Seal every day for weeks. Sometimes more than once a day. At 10 I could handle almost any household chore and I could change a diaper with the best of them, but I was no help with that fiery, wild toddler. The White Seal guaranteed a little peace and quiet and if Mama was lucky her big girl would have tidied something or started dinner while the little one was absorbed! She has since grown into a delightful young woman, unscarred by the TV repetitions.

    Comment by Samantha | August 31, 2011 | Reply

  5. This sounds like my house, just yesterday! Henry watched two DVD’s of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse back to back…the vaguely educational stories all in those squeaky mouse voices, kinda grating to the senses. But at 33 weeks pregnant, I was just happy for the quiet time 🙂

    Comment by Tammy | August 31, 2011 | Reply

  6. Hahaha! Funny how children have a way of cracking our resolve…

    Comment by rosie_kate | September 1, 2011 | Reply

  7. You’ve made me relax an awful lot about my 4 year olds current (year long?) obsession with Disney princesses, pink, high heel shoes and “no mami, I don’t want to wear trousers I want to wear a dress. With no sleeves.”

    Comment by cartside | September 7, 2011 | Reply

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