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little mermaids

nearly every day for the past year eve and ruth have asked me one or all of the following questions: "why aren't we mermaids?" "why can't we be mermaids?" "can we, at least, please maybe be real mermaids when we grow up?".. after each round of questions and answers, their slumped little shoulders move to the next room to talk about sharks and crabs, to sing (or demand that i sing) ariel's songs, and to lament the fact that they are just humans.. 

the requests and pleas tripled after seeing the little mermaid on broadway last month (find a three or five-year-old girl and go see it, ridiculously fun). but almost two days have come and gone without one query about the possibility of future mermaid-ness. i think it may have something to do with monday. there were no shell bikinis or fins for feet, but there was a day spent with daddy at the one place in brooklyn where mermaid dreams almost come true, where being a mermaid makes sense: coney island.


the aquarium may have done it. 


or maybe the boardwalk, replete with murals of busty mermaids and strange sea creatures.


or maybe it was playing in the surf that satisfied all their little hearts' desires for a mermaid's life in the sea.


but now that i'm thinking about this, the drop-off in mermaid questions likely has nothing to do with monday and everything to do with our recent reading of the original hans christian andersen the little mermaid. the illustrations by lizbeth zwerger are so lovely and the story is wonderful in it's old fairy tale slightly creepy way but.. wow. you should have seen the girls' faces when the sea witch cut the mermaid's tongue out. or worse yet, when the prince married another and the mute, suffering mermaid turned to sea foam. pure horror. in lieu of the fulfillment of blissful wedding dreams, the mermaid is left to waft through the air for 300 years as she waits to receive an immortal soul. but beware, children (what true fairy tale is complete without a terrifying moral at the end?) for if she happens to be breezing through your home while you are being naughty, another day is added to the poor mermaid's soul-less wanderings.. the girls were not happy and being a mermaid didn't seem so great after all. 

i give them a few days to process, accept and mostly forget about the real version until the questioning returns. after all, a love this strong can't possibly die so easily.. they'll soon remember that they don't live in an underwater castle, have red hair, or a decent set of clam shells to call their own.. and that those are the only things they've ever really wanted in life.


update: eve and ruth are now arguing over who would win in a fight; a mermaid or a shark. one has teeth, the other has a sword (from a sunken ship?). ruth bets on the teeth, eve is going with the sword. i'm betting that within five minutes they ask me to sing every mermaid song they can think of. 


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Reader Comments (27)

those original "fairy tales" are the best. the most entertaining gruesome tales. with your post title i was anticipating a mermaid costume.

May 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPam

What a wonderful adventure. I was a "wanna-be mermaid" as a child myself and I can't wait until my daughter is old enough to appreciate the Little Mermaid Disney movie. Such a classic.

I truly appreciate their happier take on the ending<3

May 27, 2009 | Unregistered Commentersarasophia

check this fabric out for your next project...if you haven't already. your daughters are beautiful. happy summer.


May 27, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterpassiontype

your kids sound hilarious. you must be in stitches all day long... beautiful pics

May 27, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterbelinda

absolutely love that jellyfish shot!

May 27, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterliko

This post cracked me up! I loved reading the original versions of fairy tales in college and decided that if I had a daughter, who became overwhelmingly princess-y, I would just read them to her. Of course, now I am much more accepting and adoring of all her interests, which are strictly worms and bugs at the moment. I LOVE your blog mam! It makes me miss Brooklyn! I'm crafty too if you want to check out my stuff: http://www.larkworthy.com/artist_detail_2.php?ArtistID=4

May 27, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterrahrah

These photographs are stunning...some of them have a very retro feel...love the red sandals.
I read a Newberry award book last year called "It's like that, Cat". The character visits Coney Island...now after your pictures, I want to go to!

May 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSusannah @ art nest

so so fun. those are darling pics of the kids at coney island! one look at that shark and i can understand the lull in the mermaid desires. ruby loves hearing mermaid stories and atticus likes them too as long as king triton is involved...he loves him. i think they're always on the lookout for merfolk in the ocean. i'm thinking a fun photo shoot must happen in the ocean with the girls wearing mermaid costumes! (: so sweet! (and that would be a hawaii photo shoot).

May 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPatria

oh katie, I love it. I remember as a little girl dying to be a mermaid. I used to pretend to be one at the pool, and I refused to swim kicking my legs, they had to stay together. Good times. I was at coney island too on monday. I love your little girls. They are so crazy!

May 27, 2009 | Unregistered Commentershiloh donkin

hilarious! i like the way you write but that fairty tale was really scary! they write for kids?! eep, even i'd have nightmares...weird thing is my sis and i had fantasies of being witches when we were growing up. not bad ones of course...just wanted the magic powers and flying capablilities.

May 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJos

on second thoughts i did go through a big mermaid phase and had heaps of things with Ariel on it and yes, i did sing her song for ages! but now i can't remember any of it...

May 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJos

we are absolutely mermaid mental around our house too. big plans for a mermaid/pirate party to celebrate my daughter's fifth birthday soon.

May 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKate

I have a six year old with an indescribable NEED to be Ariel!! We are subject to "shows" of the songs where she sings along to a soundtrack CD!!

I'm surprised I'm not singing them in my sleep!!!

As for our three year old?? She wants to be Sebastian??!!
Go figure!!

Tia xxx

May 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTia Webb

I think a mermaid would win, if only because her brain is bigger.

My mother was very fond of songs about silkies; old Irish folk songs with sad endings. I ate them up. Do you know many songs about mermaids?

May 28, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterhadley

Hi - I found your blog through SabbeSpot and absolutly love it! I love your pictures and stories. When I'm reading it feels more like a conversation rather than reading a blog. I just wanted to say thanks for writing, because it makes my day to read! =)

May 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterWandering Lili

well, at least you got two days' peace ;)

May 28, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterkathy

what a great post! the picture of your girls pushing the stroller is one for the family album.

May 28, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterjones

ok AND have you read them The Little Matchstick Girl? it has us all in horrified tears every time. (it's also available as an "extra" feature on Little Mermaid disc two).

May 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPam

Found you via Angry Chicken - so funny, my kiddos and I just finished reading the original HCA Little Mermaid and I stumbled a couple of times during it, wondering if it was too creepy for the kids. I had forgotten that it wasn't this totally benign story with singing lobsters and dancing fish. But they loved it, just loved it.
Great pics, thanks for sharing!

May 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLopsidedMom

You gotta take them to the Mermaid Day parade at Coney Island. Nothing will cure the obsession faster than realizing that "real" mermaids have beer bellies and wear pasties!

May 29, 2009 | Unregistered Commentersara

that's tricky...shark or mermaid. good luck!

May 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnnalisa

Love it :) For my five year old Solomon- it's Spiderman! He REALLY believes he IS! I love kids little imaginations!

May 31, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterShanda

I love your girls shoes! and sweet little suits...

...so vibrant. Where did you get them?

Also i love your site. I not usually one to gush but it is so simple and just enough cute little snippets of your kids and your awesome talents. I want to know how to sew....are you self taught?

you have killer style, thanks for sharing :)

June 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCarolyn

so sweet! It reminds me of when i was little and how i begged to go see the mermaids at this place http://weekiwachee.com/main/
sadly it was never on the florida family vacation agenda.

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