…Clap Your Hands! Clap! Clap!
Fairies are real.
Just as I had suspected all along.
This is what my 4.5 year-old granddaughter told me. She was curled up on my lap, with a blanket wrapped around us both. We were watching the new movie, “Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue” when she turned her sweet baby face to mine and made this announcement.
I agreed with her, but asked how did she know? What had given her this great solemn truth? She told me to watch the movie. “Look, Grandma, look! See that mouse? He’s real. So if the mouse is real, then so is Tinker Bell.” Then she looked into my eyes with her huge blue eyes, and sagely nodded. She was right—that mouse was real. In fact every blade of grass, ladybug, flower, and leaf were real, as real as Disney Productions could have portrayed them.
I had always believed in fairies and wondered about the fey world. Since my early years when I first saw “Peter Pan” on the black & white television show where dear old Walt Disney introduced parts of his creations. My own 4.5 year mind watched in awe as Peter Pan flew around the sky over London, with a blinking light hovering over and following him. That was a long time ago, and Tinker Bell had settled down in Never Land for the rest of my growing years.
But, here she was. A grand old dame, Tinker Bell had come back, and was better than ever. I really respect her. Like many women in films who have reached the age of fifty, Tinker Bell had had some work done, and a new up-do, changed her costume, and now was even younger than before. It is hard to get work in the film industry, I have been told, once an actress reaches a ‘certain age’, but look at some of the greatest actresses of our age: Susan Sarandon, Meryl Streep, Annette Beining, Angela Lansbury, Betty White. Their careers have extended themselves well into the 50’s , and even beyond. So, the question begs, “Why not Tinker Bell?”
Oh, ol’ Tink had to reinvent herself some. If I remember correctly, Tinker Bell was a bit of a stalker around Peter Pan. He was her boy-toy, and she wasn’t about to share him with the mermaids, Tiger Lily, and certainly not with some upstart named Wendy. That homicidal streak of hers came to burst into full flame when she told the Lost Boys to shoot down the Wendy Bird. And her visit to Captain Hook to tell him where to put the bomb, well, that was just downright murderous. Yes, Tinker Bell was a mean-spirited vixen with a bad temper.
And she was one sexy little minx. In the old movie, Tinker Bell was well-endowed, with voluptuous hips, and serious attitude. Her ensemble emphasized that side of hers. And those eyes, oh, how seductive and mysterious. Yes, Tinker Bell had a lot going on there when she first emerged as the ingénue of the animated films.
And, now, Tink is back, a delightfully cute little fairy who likes to fix things, and create. Still mischievous, Tinker Bell has channeled all that sexual energy into helping her fellow fairies, making people happy, and even teaching a human girl about the fairy world. I would say that Tinker Bell has enchanted a whole new generation of little girls, including the soft warm little girl who was sitting on my lap, and declaring her faith in fairies.
Having spent a large percentage of my life in the world of children as a child, parent, teacher, and grandmother, I have come to conclusion that children have a simple direct faith. They believe in things purely, passionately. They experience the fairies, the princesses, the unicorns—all of it—with such depth and acceptance. Seeing this and being surrounded by children, I have become intoxicated by their fervor, and believe as they do. Yes, Santa Claus is real. Yes, the tooth fairy, too. I am little shaky on the Easter Bunny, being a Christian and having to draw the line somewhere.
I drew two little fairies and then made several copies, so that my two granddaughters could color them for a big project we would do together. We were going to make an honest-to-goodness fairy house to set out for their backyard fairies. Scouring their parents’ garage, I unearthed a Sleeping Beauty box which one of them had received a new bunch of Disney accessories to use with their eleven Disney princesses and Barbies. The box itself was done to the Disney standard, with excellent graphics on the cardboard and even on the transparent heavy-duty plastic that allowed a child to view the box’s contents, but kept light-fingered adults from breaking through the box with any ease. That box was so well made, that it took me thirty minutes and kitchen scissors to break into and dismantle a part of the box.
The little girls got down to work, and used my crayons, scissors, and paper that I carry in my “grandma bag” to make some of the things that would help furnish the fairy house. Their heads down and their fingers scissoring, the girls chattered about all the things that would go into this house. Grand aspirations: a bed with blanket and sheets, two pillows, tables, chairs, wall hangings—these were just a small fraction of their planned furnishings.
When I saw that the paper falling on the floor was greater than the things they were making, I suggested we go outside to gather leaves, twigs, and what-not to use in the fairy house. This was a great idea, and the girls put on their socks & shoes and jackets. Each had a bag and we marched out to the front yard, ready to scavenge for nature elements.
California desert yards are a little sparse when it comes to fairy stuff, but we managed to get some leaves and sprigs of lavender from the neighbor’s wonderful yard. The neighbors had done some major planting in their backyard in 1988, with the result being that some of the best fairy house stuff had grown through and under their fence. Thus satisfied with our findings, we headed back into the house.
The girls hurried to the table, shucking their jackets on the way. The shoes stayed on and perhaps that was the most important thing about the experience of building a fairy house. As we culled through our loot, the oldest granddaughter made a disgusted face and said, “What is the bad smell?”
Oh, I knew what it was. Frantically, we lifted up each foot and checked each shoe. There it was, on her shoe: dog poop. Oh, how I hate dog poop.
Back in my parenting days, my kids’ shoes were relatively smooth bottomed, since we bought the cheapest Keds on the market. That made scraping off the dog poop a breeze. But today? Oh, no. Disney has hit that market as well. The soles of the shoes were intricately carved with flowers, swirling hearts, deep crevasses of Disney delight. This clean-up job was going to take some real effort on my part.
Grandpa was sitting nearby, and had been dozing during the “Dora” show we had going. He gave me a sweet sleepy smile, and somehow I could not dump this job on him. Armed with a bottle of kitchen cleaner, paper towels, and a popsicle stick in one hand, and the offending shoe in the other, I went out to the backyard. We had not chosen to hunt for fairy furnishings in the backyard because the girls had a dog, and we didn’t want to get its poop on our shoes. Well, that was a lesson learned: better the poop you know than the poop you don’t know.
Crouching along the sidewall of their yard, I worked on that shoe. I cursed the little flower designs. I gagged as I scraped out the swirling hearts with the popsicle stick. Scrape, scrape, dig, dig, wipe, wipe, spray, spray. Over and over, I did this, thinking ungracious thoughts about Disney, dogs, the color pink, Tinker Bell, and fairies in general. Finally I could see the design emerge, minus dog poop. I rinsed the sole off, scrubbed some more, and rinsed it one final time.
Trying to mask my revulsion, I brought the shoe in, and beheld the girls happily chattering about the house, and what they would do next. I dumped the cleaning supplies, and took the shoe to the front door, where I discovered evenly spaced steps that lead to the kitchen. It was the trail of dog poop that had fallen off in transit to the kitchen.
Dismissing love for my husband, I called him to come in help. He was in the bathroom, so the girls ran to the bathroom door, pounding on it and yelling, “Grandpa! Grandpa! There’s dog poop on the carpet, and Grandma says you have to clean it up! Grandpa!” They did that for about three minutes non-stop.
When he finally emerged, they dragged him to see the spots he would have to clean. He sent them to get toweling and cleaner. I also sent some Fabreze his way. While they did that, I hurriedly put away the art supplies, and put all sorts of paper triangles in the fairy stuff bag.
When the girls returned, I pronounced the fairy house done for today; we would work on it some more when I came back on Friday. About that time, my daughter came home from a stressful day teaching. The smell of dog poop was still heavy in the air, and we both were gagging while the girls excitedly shared the fairy house and talked of their big plans. I looked at their faces and my own daughter’s face. She had wanted to be Wendy at Halloween when she was little, and I could see her smile at her daughters’ joy of fairy belief.
When I was still young, my family watched a televised play, “Peter Pan” with Mary Martin as Peter Pan. I remember how she/he appealed to the audience to clap our hands, if we believed in fairies, so we could save Tinker Bell’s life. “Clap! Clap your hands!” I clapped for all I was worth, and observed my brothers also clapping, too, with their eyes glued on the flickering light that was Tinker Bell’s life. Slowly the light grew stronger, and we all sighed in relief. We had been holding our breaths the whole time.
I guess I am still clapping.