Zachary was upset with me today as I made him finish his dinner. His cruelty? “I’ll huff and puff and blow your house in!” And that’s when the thought struck me – I haven’t told him the 3 Little Pigs. I don’t really care that someone else has, but which version was he told? I subbed in a 4th grade class a few weeks ago and the kids insisted the pigs weren’t eaten. Which also gave me pause that they didn’t understand what “folk tale” meant, but I digress.
Obviously, you can tell your kid any version of any tale you would like to but I think we do a grave dis-service by not telling the more gruesome version. I don’t really care to tell about evil step-sisters slicing their toes off to put on slippers, I suppose. Cinderella is older than some civilizations, so there’s plenty of wiggle room. We all know those Brothers Grimm were crazy violent.
My concern is the lesson. In the 3 Little Pigs you have the pig with the straw house, the pig with the stick house, and the pig with the brick house. As I heard it, those straw and stick house pigs? Ham Salad. Which is gross, because any sort of meat salad is gross. But the lesson was plain: If you make poor choices, you will be eaten by a wolf. I am a more thoughtful, wise person for this helpful folk tale.
Also, this tale ends with the wolf being boiled alive at the hands of the pig in the brick house. Children learn that Evil ends in sorrow, and that pigs are carnivorous – helpful hints for life.
What lesson do we learn from the other version? In the other version, the pigs run to their brother’s brick house. The brick-house pig ends up getting rid of the wolf. In this pig-friendly version, the wolf usually gets burned in the chimney and escapes, which is just ridiculous. This version is rife with Poor Life Lessons.
The first lesson learned, and the most blatant, is that if you are a stupid person with little regard for your personal safety, you can rely on your relatives to care for you. The carnivorous pig lesson is wholly ignored, meaning children will be more likely to embrace a wild boar on sight. Finally, children are taught not only that it is safe to climb down chimneys, but that they are easily escaped.*
That’s just poor parenting.
And so, my advice today is to be sure that you educate your children with the proper tellings of tales. Pigs become bacon at the hands/paws of wolves, and that is the whole truth. While I don’t enjoy the villainizing of wolves, I suppose a sacrifice must be made to some degree. Just temper the tales with lessons of a lupine nature.
*I realize Santa Claus is all about the chimneys, but one only needs to remind children that he is magic, and they are not. Children can’t use magic without being sent a letter from Hogwarts. Problem solved.