Friday night. For the first time in forever, Gerard and I are home having a quiet dinner together. Millie is with us, but we have popped her in the lounge with the babysitter, the TV. I’d fed her an early tea in the hope we could have just one fuss free adult meal for the week. She was content watching the new Cinderella. I’d just purchased it, mainly for her, but a teeny tiny bit (read: whole lot) for me.
I wanted her to fall in love with this new movie; a movie with actual real life humans acting in it and not cartoons. My daughter watches the same movie 49 thousand times and insists I sit with her for company, I was desperate. However in my quest to find something we both could love, I hadn’t thought it through that because people that look like real people (and not colourful cartoons) in a movie, the idea seems more real in a little persons mind.
“Mama when you die, do I get a step mother like Cinderella?” a little voice yelled from the TV room half way through our peaceful meal.
Wait, what?! Oh that’s right, this movie is about death before it’s about love. #parentfail. Wanting to put the horrible thought of a motherless life right out of her little head I answered, “Mummy’s not going to die honey, so don’t even worry about it. Cinderella is just a movie, it’s not real”.
Not good enough. She wasn’t falling for my bubble gum answer. She wanted TRUTH, so she pressed on barely looking away from Cate Blanchett on the TV. “But if you DID, would Daddy marry a stepmother?”.
This time I looked to her father to answer, after all, if I did die as she hypothesized, a possible stepmother wouldn’t be my choice because I’d be dead. What would he do? He put down his knife and fork, looked at me then looked back at her and said: “No Millie, I wouldn’t re-marry, it will just be you and me together forever kiddo, ok?!”
A photo posted by Emily Jade O’Keeffe (@emilyjadeokeeffe) on
In one swift sentence he made the two women in his life happy. Her because she wouldn’t have to deal with an evil fairy tale like stepmother, and me because it was a Friday night. He is a clever man taking a chance on a romantic notion on a night where I don’t have to get up at 4am in the morning. Thinking about him pining for me forever, not ever getting over me after my death- how could I not give him an extra special good night kiss later on when the kid was asleep.
Later as I searched for something less confronting for her to watch, I couldn’t find many options. What is it with most movies having a death in the first few scenes? And why is it always the good, kind, much-loved and adored mother, especially in Disney movies?
Don Hahn, executive producer of “Maleficent,” recently told Glamour: “One reason is because Disney films are about growing up. They’re about that day in your life when you have to accept responsibility. In shorthand, it’s much quicker to have characters grow up when you bump off their parents”.
While it’s noble to help children learn to grow up, what about us parents? All it has taught me is that the good mum’s die young while the bad ones live on. So I might as well aim low as a mother and live a long life. Lollies for dinner Millie?
Emily Jade is half of the Flan & Emily Jade Breakfast Show which can be heard week days from 5am-9am on 1029 Hot Tomato.
This piece originally ran in Bmag here: