September 27, 2010

Analyzing Classic Literature with a Four-year-old.

It was the look on Jade's face that prompted my question.

"What are you thinking about?" I asked. She was frowning,  obviously deep in thought.

"Why did the pig kill the wolf?" she asked in return.

"Because the wolf was trying to kill the pig," was my simple explanation.

Her thoughtful frown remained. Increased, even.

"Are you sad that the wolf died?" I asked.

"Yeah," she responded, and by the look in her eyes I could see that she was deeply affected by the wolf's death.

This is different, I thought, It has always been pretty cut and dry, hasn't it? Good guys: pigs. Bad guy: wolf?  Bad guy dies and everyone celebrates a happy ending?

But then she began asking more in-depth questions about why the pig killed the wolf. Oh, she knew the wolf was trying to kill the pig. He'd already killed two others. No big deal there; the wolf wanted to eat the pigs for supper - but what was the pig going to do with the wolf?

And that's what was bothering her. In Jade's eyes, the bad guy wasn't the wolf. He was just doing what wolves do; trying to find enough food to survive. The bad guy in the story was the pig. The pig had that strong brick house and his wits to protect him and he... he... murdered that poor wolf by boiling him alive.

Sicko pig.

Poor, poor wolf.

I'd never thought of it that way before.

Jade has always been a storybook enthusiast. Gone, though, are the days when I got bored to tears reading the same books over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. Now she's asking questions and those questions are forcing me to look at old "boring" stories in a new light - and leaving me with some very interesting questions to answer.  Stories that I thought I knew are suddenly transformed and brought to life again.

Why did the Paper Bag Princess call the prince a big dummy after she saved him from the dragon?  Why was the prince so mean to her just because she was dirty?

If they destroyed all of the spinning wheels in the kingdom, why did the fairies take Sleeping Beauty away from her parents?

Why did the Seven Dwarves put Snow White into a glass coffin? Why did they want to see her if she was dead? And why would a prince want to kiss a dead person that he didn't know?

I love that she's asking questions.  I love how she's not just being entertained by the stories, but is pondering the deeper philosophical and moral implications of the stories.

But if she's asking questions like this now, thinking about the questions she's going to be asking in a few years scares the living crap out of me.


Megan said...

Yeah, you're in trouble.

Sarah N said...

Your girls are too cute, I loved meeting them. And tell Jade to keep asking the tough questions: she may be a budding journalist or else one of those wonderful members of society who asks "why" instead of just saying "OK"! I love a girl with that kind of guts!

Scientific Chick said...

"Why won't you let me go party downtown with my friends?"

"Why won't you let me borrow your car to go see my goth boyfriend who lives in Seattle?"

"Why don't you just get it?"

Hahaha. Good luck is right. :)

Matt, Kara, Hunter and Cavan said...

What a girl! I love the thought she is putting into her stories. And I agree... you are going to be in trouble in another 10 years or so!

Meandering Michael said...

The other night, I was heading out the door when Jade asked if she could use my laptop to skype with her grandparents.

"Not right now," I said, "I'm just heading out the door."

"Oh," she says, "Are you taking your computer?"

"No," I reply, "I'm going to band practice."

Without missing a beat, she asks, "Can I use your computer then?"

The darned kid is using logic on me already!

Dog Hair in my Coffee said...

I have 6th graders who aren't capable of asking deep questions like those, but who just take everything they read at face value. I am SERIOUSLY impressed.
I see a GLORIOUS future ahead for that little one!
You are so lucky! (And good parenting has lots to do with it, too!)

Christiane said...

The funny thing is, the day I read this post, I went home and Jeremie told me about a play they did at school. The three little pigs but the pigs were the bad guys and the wolf the good guy. What are the chances. :)

Unknown said...

"and why would the prince want to kiss a dead person he did not know anyway"..................I so cannot stop laughing at that one. She will make a great forensic pathologist.