There is such a thing as bittersweet, not just bitter and not just sweet.

Had an interesting difference of opinion. first, a breakdown for those folks that have never read the story.

The Velveteen Rabbit

One Christmas day a young boy was given a brown and white spotted velveteen rabbit with pink sateen ears. The rabbit was forgotten for awhile, but when the boy rediscovered him, the rabbit and boy became inseparable. Fancier toys teased the Velveteen Rabbit because he was only made of velveteen and stuffed with old sawdust. However, his friend, the wise Skin Horse, told him about Nursery Magic that would make him real if he was loved by a child and gave love in return.
As time went on the Velveteen Rabbit’s beautiful fur became shabby, his tail began to come apart and all the pink came off his nose where the boy kissed him. One day the boy told his Nana that the rabbit was real. The rabbit was so happy to be real that he never noticed his appearance and his eyes shown with a look of wisdom and beauty. He told some wild rabbits that he was real, but they teased him and made him sad.

Then the boy became ill and the rabbit stayed by his side. When the boy was well, the doctor ordered that all the toys be burned because of germs. The rabbit was sad and a tear trickled down his nose to the ground. Where the tear fell, a flower grew. The blossom opened and out stepped the lovely Fairy of Nursery Magic, who takes all the old, loved and worn out playthings that children no longer need and makes them real. The rabbit had only been real to the boy. The fairy took him in her arms and flew him to a place in the woods where there were other rabbits. She kissed him and told him to run and play. The Velveteen Rabbit became a real, live rabbit.

Ok… that’s the gist of the tale, less many the beautiful words and images that it contains. I reccomend it as part of a childs bookshelf, and it has a special meaning to me.

Another LJer I was talking to elsewhere said “I can’t believe that we subject children to depressing stories like that.

I personally think it’s a wonderful tale about love and the growing that comes from being loved. (see the sonnet, previous, too.) There are some sad parts, like when the boy is separated from something he loves so much, but overall, it’s a marvellous tale, and memory from my childhood.

Somehow the person I was conversing with it about totally missed the point… I feel that children benefit more if shown in a soft way some of the way life works ahead of time, they adjust better than if they get fed the mostly pointless “Barney the dinosaur, no drama ever happens” school of storytelling. It’s a question of taste, and position, I guess. In any event, I’m not going to bother pointing my world view at him anymore as he’s too traumatized by the story to hear it.

His sort of thinking has been a mild irritant to me… his opinion in general doesn’t matter, but when it becomes that of the majority, and will affect how I ultimately raise a child… then I begin to be disturbed by it. I credit some of my common sense and ability to reason to being subjected to a good mix of reality as a kid, not just the “everything is rainbows and cherubs” idea that’s currently in vogue. You don’t have to tell the story of “How Little Billy lost his legs to an Axe Murderer” either.

A balance can be struck. Fairies can be about granting wishes, playing tricks or warning of a coming tragedy. Besides, a story without some conflict makes it look like the hero got off too easy.

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