Friday, March 2, 2012

Fairy Tale Friday: The Little Red Hen

Link to original here
I remember thinking this story was so sad when I was little. The poor pig, cat, and duck, yes, but poor hen too. Maybe it’s because one of the lessons we push most on kids is sharing? I don’t know. I just remember thinking that bread must have had a rather bitter taste. 

I imagined the little red hen sitting pulled up to the table, hunkered over the loaf, slathering gobs of soft, melting butter on each thick, warm slice. Mmm, my mom made bread for us back then, so I knew exactly how exquisite was that smell. The hen would no-doubt be in a veritable heaven, shoveling the whole, crumbly loaf into her little beak one golden piece at a time. 

But then I knew all that rich, home-baked goodness would be too much, and I imagined her getting sick on it, belly bulging and over-full. Her eyes would close and she’d hold her stomach, fighting to keep all that bread down.

Now I’m older I get the story. A little bit, anyway, because I’ve had a few experiences where I’ve put a lot of work into something but then someone else reaps the benefits.

That feeling sucks. 

And yet? Reading back over this folktale, I still can’t help but be sad for everyone involved.

The pig, cat, and duck should have helped, yes. But the hen should have forgiven her friends as well, and shared what she’d worked so hard to create. To me it seems obvious that this would be a much better ending to the story?

Now that I’m older, and I don’t have to just accept the fairytales as they’re given to me, in my head I imagine this other scenario of how that last scene could have played out:

Link to original here
The little red hen accepts the cat, the duck, and the pig as they are, and opens her door for them to join her. The friends all sit together around the table, jovially slathering big blobs of butter on their slices, laughing and telling each other stories about their adventures in the mud, the pond, etc.

The friends are apologizing to the hen for not helping, but they’re also gushing in their compliments about how good the bread is. She feels happy that they appreciate her effort, even if they didn't contribute to it. And she can tell they’re sincere because of the way their eyes glow, their smiles linger, and they unconsciously hum as they lick their fingers.

How much better would that bread taste? Sweet and rich, warm in their bellies. And no one gets sick, because there’s just enough for all.

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  1. I couldn't agree more regarding "The Little Red Hen." The way the ending is written now is teaching our children that kindness is conditional. I like your ending much better. Thanks...Peggy

    I found you on Blog Her. Please stop by my blog, Kick Back Moments at htt://

    1. Thanks for your thoughts, Peggy. And don't you love Blog Her? Of course, of course I'll stop by your blog. Thanks for the easy link...heading there now.


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