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Reply To: A Child’s Edenic Dream: “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy”



It makes me so happy that you enjoyed this essay I wrote, because it gave me such joy to write it–the joy I had in writing it was almost as numinous as the first time I ever saw The Nutcracker Ballet.

I was indeed so blessed to have the childhood I had, imbued with the arts. My mother was a huge fan of music, musicals, drama of the theater, and ballet. She was also an avid reader. My father claimed to be tone-deaf, and while true he mostly sang off-key, he still sang, coming close to hitting the pitches of the notes. He loved all the old American folk songs and folk songs from all over the world, and often would just break out in song as an event would make him associate it to that song. For instance, on someone’s birthday, he would often as a joke start singing “She’ll be Comin’ ‘Round the Mountain” after we all sang the Happy Birthday song because of the verse “And we’ll all have cake and ice cream when she comes…” My parents both loved film, also, and shared their love of the classics with me when I was a child. My dad would spend hours with me watching all the classics as well as the classic cartoons. My dad was a huge fan of folklore and pop culture. I include this writing about my parents here as a tribute and thank you to them; also, I have felt the magnetic draw to share the arts with my own child and grandchild–and my daughter shares the arts this way with her child. I think this can be so important to keeping the arts alive by passing them on and from an early age all the better perhaps! I could say that the arts were what were emphasized in the household I grew up in.

I have heard so many stories of parents throwing out their child’s baby or childhood blanket once they think the child is supposed to outgrow it at a certain time and yes I think it can be as tragic to a child as a broken toy.  I was also lucky that my parents never threw away my baby blanket which lasted me all through my toddler years. But after I was no longer a toddler, it was never thrown out–just put away for me in the cedar chest. I think the pain one experiences when a blanket is thrown away in and of itself validates the pain. Maybe one child would not be as attached to the blanket at a certain age as another–but it could be the violence in the child’s mind or heart of seeing it simply discarded (and how many times do we hear about parents getting vehement about it and arguing about it with the child or yelling as it is disgarded?) that can add to that pain even after a child is not as attached to it as when younger. Here I think of the fairy tales in which a beloved pet is killed, such as in The Chinese Cinderella when the evil stepmother kills the CInderella character’s pet. I would say, yes, a discarded blanket thrown to the “trash” can be as upsetting as a broken toy. And when broken toys can be fixed, the compare-contrast is that the blanket is so seldom retrieved from the trash or the “dump.” The images of “trash” and “dump” are so drastically awful to the psyche of the child, I would think, when “attached” to the child’s beloved blanket. It is not always so much a matter of the child not being able to give up the blanket at a certain age but is a beloved collectible after a while. I think a parent could find somewhere to keep the blanket, such as in a storage closet, or have it preserved like an afghan kept folded at the bottom of the bed for a while and let the child discard it as and when they wish.