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.