Monday, September 05, 2005

Would you tell this story to your child (or even your hypothetical child)?

When I was a little kid, I had a big book of fairy tales that used to make me feel sick inside. There was one story in particular about a boy who finds a silver ball with a little bit of thread coming out of a hole. He discovers that the thread that comes out is the skein of his life and he can make time pass quickly by pulling out a bit of the thread. The only problem is that once he pulls the thread out, it disappears so you can't put it back in. The boy vows to be careful with the silver ball and to use it sparingly.

Of course, the very next day at school he pulls out some of the thread, and it's suddenly time to go home. The story skips to when the boy finishes school and starts working as an apprentice. Predictably, the boy pulls out some of thread when boring stuff is happening. Again we skip ahead to when he meets a girl and they want to get married, but they can't for another year. So he pulls some string out the silver ball.

Eventually we get to the boy in his old age (ok, technically he's now an old man) and when he tries to pull out some of the thread, it comes away in his hand and he dies regreting that he didn't live his life to the full but skipped the dull bits. But when he opens his eyes, he realises that he is still a young boy and it was all a bad dream.

This has to be one of the most appalling fairy story for a child, especially one predisposed to day dreaming (like me). Even thinking about it now gives me the creeps.

16 Comments:

Blogger Paulius said...

It's strange but nearly all fairy tales and nursery rhymes are creepy as hell.

They're meant to be cautionary tales...but things in fairly tales tend to be things that would get an MA rating on TV. there's very few were at least one person doesn't die horribly.

4:12 pm  
Blogger Paulius said...

Oh, by the way...great blog! (First time commentor, long time lurker)

4:13 pm  
Blogger L said...

could be worse, though. I still have my old Grimm's and Anderson's fairy tales from childhood -- they're chock full of cannibalism, mutilation, death, murder, etc. Not very pretty

12:22 pm  
Blogger Craig said...

I probably wouldn't tell this story. I'm very overprotective of my hypothetical children.

1:09 pm  
Blogger Invisible Lizard said...

When I was about nine, I had to read Chekhov's short story The Bet which was about a guy who bets that he could go into voluntary confinement with nothing but books as company, no human interaction at all, for 15 years. So he does, and at the end of those 15 years, the guy about to lose the bet goes to kill this man because (now) he can't afford to lose that much money, only to find out that the confined man has walked out of his "prison" mere days before winning (a presumed fortune) because everything he's read in the past 15 years has taught him that money means nothing to him, all his reading has been much more valuable. Everything about this story disturbs me (equally now as it did when I was a kid), but it never left me. Sounds corny, but I'm a better person for having that with me all my life. These sorts of morality tales are written to be disturbing so they won't be forgotten. My problem is I'd probably overdose my hypothetical child on this sort of thing and lose him/her to a cult at an early age.

11:09 am  
Blogger MC Etcher said...

Definitely not for most children, but perhaps you were wise beyond your years?

A good fable should make a strong impression.

8:43 am  
Blogger Paulius said...

Also English translations of fairy tales tend to 'clean' them up a bit.

In cinderella, 'glass slipper' was a mistranslation of 'fur slipper', which was meant as a euphemism for...well you know what.

Also, rumpelstiltskin was an anti masturbation tale. At the end of the original, rumpelstiltskin jumps and hides somewhere, shall we say, private and personal? In the westernised version, he gets his foot trapped in the floor.

If you don't beleive me, think if this. What is a stilt with a rumpled skin?

10:55 am  
Anonymous FMBG said...

Hey! Parents get bored the same as children do. Frightening children was an amusing way to pass the time and exert some control over them too, through fear.

As for me, I don't tell scary stories to my kids. We have a blast and play lots of games. I always win because I'm bigger than them......and I cheat.

10:27 pm  
Blogger MC Etcher said...

Would you leave this post up for eight days (even for your hypothetical readers)?

:o)

9:51 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just to let everyone know LG is currently in the grip of a nasty virus, and feels like hell. Doubtless she will post again soon.

HH


PS some sympathy messages wouldn't go astray......

12:44 pm  
Anonymous FBMG said...

Hey LG, hope you're feeling better. Being sick sucks, to say the least. I assume that Handsomest is taking good care of you.

10:43 am  
Blogger Blandwagon said...

What, she can't drag herself to the nearest computer and tap out a couple of lines?

In MY day, even if we had a bit of a flu, we still had to walk sixteen miles through the snow to make our blog entries on the village computer... which was steam-powered, so you had to spend forty minutes building up a good head of steam first.

And of course all this had to be done in the middle of the night, since we had to be down pit between 6am and 6pm, eight days a week.

11:29 am  
Blogger granola girl said...

Hey Laziest — hope you get feeling better soon. Frankly I'm getting tired of seeing this entry everytime I check your blog. ;)

12:23 am  
Blogger Craig said...

You could always pull a bit of the thread out of the silver ball to make the sickness pass more quickly. Or you good just get better, you know, whichever works best for you.

2:26 am  
Blogger MC Etcher said...

Sorry for teasing you Laziest! Feel better soon, you are missed!

2:57 am  
Blogger car said...

Of course I would tell this story to my child--I probably did. It is a great anti-drug story to show the error of filthy hippy thinking. You smoke drugs you lose part of your life and regret it later.

10:39 am  

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