When Are Children Ready for Hard Truths?

The Lesson Of Frozen's Yucky Prince Hans

I was so excited for my granddaughter to see “Frozen”.   She loves anything “princess” and it was going to be her first time in a movie theater.  The whole family showed up to be a part of the experience.  I think we spent more time watching her little face than we did the movie screen.

Strangely though, she seemed more interested in her popcorn than she did in the movie.  And, when it was over there was no excited little voice talking about what she had seen.  In fact, she didn’t want to talk about it at all.  Figuring she was just tired, her parents took her home for a nap.

Later in the day, when she opened the “Frozen” figurine set I had bought for her, she again had a blank look on her face.  She not only didn’t want to play with them but she wanted them put on a high shelf.    Periodically, in the months that followed, we’d offer to take the figures down for her to play with, but her answer was always an emphatic “No!”  We had no idea what was going on in her tiny head.

 

Eventually, she got the “Frozen” CD and she sang along with the songs.  And then the DVD came out and she learned every character’s name and would point to the figures on my shelf and recite them.  But, she still did not want to play with them.

Finally, her parents took the figurines home to see if she would play with them in her own house.  But, they ended up on a shelf in her room.

Recently, I went over for a visit and I took the figurines down and began to reenact the movie.  She was loving it until I picked Hans up.  “No, no, no,” she exclaimed, “No Hans!”  She snatched him up and put him back on the shelf.

As I continued with the story she interrupted again and said, “Remember, no Hans!”  I got a few more sentences out before she reminded me yet again, “No Hans, he’s yucky.”  She must have told me ten different times that Hans was not to be included in our play.

I was finally getting a clue as to why she was so affected by the movie.  I realized that her sweet, tiny heart had expected handsome Prince Hans to be a “good guy” and make Anna’s dreams come true.  When he changed in front of her eyes into a villain, it upset her terribly.  It went against everything she knew about princess stories and life in general.  It destroyed the balance in her little world and she didn’t have the vocabulary to tell us how she felt.

The fact that people are not always as nice as they seem is a hard lesson we’ve all had to learn.  Most of us (if not all) have had to learn it the hard way. 

My question is this: When is it the right time to try and teach this to our children?  When do we burst the bubble of innocence and fill them in on the hard truths of living in a corrupt world?  Do we really need to take away the dream of love and romance so early?

And, when are we ready to take in the fact that the people we love are capable of hurting us in the deepest ways possible?  Because, you see, I’m still not ready for that lesson.  I too want to keep all the yucky people on a shelf and refuse to play with them. 

For now, I’m filled with sadness at the inevitability that Norrie will someday be betrayed by someone she trusts (we’ve all had it happen).  Will it help that she was betrayed by Prince Hans when she was only three?  Only time will tell.  I, for one, wish to keep her innocent as long as possible.

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