Snow White

I live with Snow White.

Seriously. You are already, I can sense, adjusting for my sense of dramatic irony.

But unusually, I must advise you that I speak literally when I say, really, I definitely do live with Snow White.

I have to own that little is said about the character of Snow White by the Brothers Grimm. What they do say is that when she flees the wicked stepmother through the forest, somehow the wild animals must perceive she is special, for they do not attempt to harm her.

And the rest, as they say, is Disney.

The Snow White with whom I live is currently in her eleventh year cruising towards her twelfth. Her eyes are the brightest fieldmouse eyes, and her hair a lustrous ebony. In her heart is pure goodness, and she has not got a bad word to say about anyone.

It is because she is so very flawless that she does not always understand malice in others. There have been youngsters out there who would like to take a pop at Snow White, youngsters whose self-image is so low that blemishing hers might boost theirs. But my Snow White drifts through a pleasant life like a princess through a flower meadow and somehow the bad stuff just slips away.

At school her friends protect and cosset her. They recognise, I think, Ā a rare soul.

And if she is Snow White, that would make me Mother.

I am not an evil crazed apple-poisoning queen, I hasten to add. But I do harbour bad thoughts occasionally. I have a fiery tempestuous approach to life, a polarised set of opinions, and a deplorable attitude to housework.

Snow White has taken her time sizing the situation up. And now, as she approaches her teenage years, she is beginning to take the reins of her life, and inextricably linked with her reins are mine.

Snow White came downstairs last night and slept on the sofa in our bedroom. She has horrific nightmares, and loves to curl up in the waiting duvet and listen to our night-time audiobook along with us. The Prisoner Of Zenda advanced companionably with every passing hour.

We woke to the holiday morning and Snow White gracefully accepted her morning cup of hot chocolate. She sat patiently waiting while I wrote; we showered, dressed and slipped downstairs to breakfast.

She sang quietly in the most melodious voice imaginable as she busied herself about the breakfast things. On the side was a conglomeration of yesterday’s old pots and mugs. They troubled Snow White considerably.

“Mummy,” she said, “I’m just going to clear the dishwasher. It looks so untidy there: we can clear it so we feel comfortable.”

Riiiiiiight. For eleven years I have waited until after breakfast to clear such detritus. But for Snow White things must be just-so. I got up. Obediently, I cleared the dishwasher and together we stacked everything in.

“There,” said Snow White. “Now. Doesn’t that feel better?”

The child is the father of the man.

Outside the birds sang, and Snow White commentated on their movements, Mrs Blackbird and Mr Blackbird and all. I expect they all know her personally.

Today was a three-dog-day.

I never had Snow White down for a dog lover. But I talked to her about Macaulay the other day. Macaulay of the charm, questionable breath and rank forest odour.

“Macaulay is a very caring dog,” she pronounced. “When I was worrying about my maths homework, he just came up and put his head on my knee in sympathy.”

Well. I hrumphed silently. He’s never done that for me.

After breakfast, the three dogs needed a long forest walk, and we hitched them up and headed out.

Out there in the forest Snow White was once again at her antics. The dogs, today, adored her. She ran ahead and threw sticks and talked to them. Spice was instantly in the best of moods and tore round, stick in mouth, a one-doggie-party. Macaulay sported a doggie grin and even strange obsessive Clover laid her stick eerily at my daughter’s feet in slavish adoration.

Living with Snow White is like having a very small magistrate at hand. I can no longer make sweeping statements about people, or animals, or misjudge them. For the unrelentingly good person at my side gently reminds me that what I have said is not so: that I have just polarised a situation which has shades.

And so: in one respect I tread a well-worn path as the jaded mother of a dove-white soul. But in another, no-one has written down how one might respond positively to such extraordinariness in one’s own backyard. For I wish to buck the wicked stepmother trend.

I’d like to enjoy the next few years, watching Snow White grow up.

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53 thoughts on “Snow White

  1. I do hope that no one breaks her spirit. I work with a Snow White; she is in her 60s. It sounds odd to say, but she just is a light…not obsequious, or fake, or what not…just a lovely heart. Sigh…I shall never be a Snow White…I know my limitations ~

    1. We have manymanymany plans for the moment when that happens to us, Roger. Maybe we’ll end up in a beautiful little house in France…the course you are planning sounds fantastic. And as you will gather the truffle-hunting pig grasped my imagination immediately šŸ™‚

  2. It’s refreshing to hear a mother write of her daughter without predicting that at some point in her tempestuous adolescence she is going to no longer be quite the same girl.

  3. My sister is one such:) – I, as a child who shared a lot of her soul with little devils, found her an impossibilty to live with and def. harboured unkind thoughts -when we grew up, I grew to appreciate her and have managed to keep bad thoughts at bay! has she made me such as herself – nope- I still have the little devils but I have snow white also to help me keep some perspective – yours sounds delightful – treasure her she is rare:)

    1. Strange the effect these Snow Whites have on us, Alberta. There are days when mine has me snarling silently in the corner of the kitchen because I have my demons and they will out; but she is a constant benign presence. Someone once called her ‘merry’ and it’s a good word. You remind me of Elizabeth and Jane Bennett: Jane was another Snow White, I feel sure.

  4. What a beautiful pen pic, Kate šŸ™‚
    When Girl1 was small we had a book called ‘Don’t let the Pigeon Drive the bus’- in theory the little person was to have great fun shouting NO at the cheeky pigeon, but she broke her heart- why can he not drive the bus? let the pigeon drive the bus! We tried reading it twice before it went to the charity shop. The tears of goodness were too much.

  5. What a wonderful post about young Maddie, she does indeed sound like a beautiful soul. Be thankful and appreciate this time and hope that it continues along the same path. Sometimes the teen years tend to be challenges for both teens and Moms, let us hope that she continues as your wonderful Snow White….my money says she will.

  6. You will enjoy watching her grow up, Kate, and it will continue to be a joy. Remember that if the teen years get a bit tricky, they sometimes do. This is such a loving letter of sorts to your Maddie. She reminds me of my own Jennifer at that age.

  7. What a beautiful post, and a lovely tribute to your daughter who sounds a rare and beautiful soul indeed.
    I was raised by a Snow White….I have always called her an angel. Growing up with an angel for a Mother was not easy, especially for me, who knew I could never ever be one, try as I might. šŸ™‚ We joke about her rose colored glasses, for that is how she views the world and every situation. Always one to see the good, never critical or judgmental (“for who am I to pass judgement”) always always always right in her advice. I think I saw her anger once in my entire life. At times I was resentful growing up, feeling that perfection was expected, yet unattainable, at least for me. I was impatient (still am), temperamental (still am), emotional (still am!) And yet wanted to be the calm, cool, elegantly collected creature my Mother was.
    Now I am 42, the mother of three (14, soon to be 15, 10, and 5) and I am no longer resentful, because she celebrated (yet attempted to hone and temper) my feistiness. I no longer reach to be something I cannot be. However, in difficult situations I do find myself thinking, “How would Mom handle this situation?” Her advice and words of wisdom are invaluable to me as I raise my own children, differently than she did, but with the same moral traditions and expectations I was raised with. My younger sister is my Mother incarnate…quiet, calm, collected, sweet natured. Another Snow White, and I love my Snow Whites with every fiber of my being. Perhaps I am Snow Gray…you know…three day old snow, a bit smudged and slushy and dirty along the edges, but if you dig a bit you still see the white underneath. šŸ˜‰
    Amazing aren’t they, these creatures we create? One of my greatest pleasures is watching my teenager slowly blossoming into the adult she will soon be. Worrying beyond belief, but so rewarding. šŸ™‚

    1. I love that, Kanniduba….Snow Grey. Thank you for your beautiful observations. I’m not sure what I would have done with a Snow White mother! A blessing, indeed, but so much to match up to as a role model. Your mother sounds a truly amazing person.

  8. I am sure Snow White will bestow the best of happy days on her not-evil Mum today. I hope you are off doing something fun.

    When I think of Maddie, I always have the picture of her fading herself into and out of my computer screen when we chatted on G+. She was so funny, coming and going over there on the side, always with a different look on her face.

  9. What a an amazing little soul! I hope we are sharing for years to come, Kate, because I want to see where her kind and compassionate nature leads her as she continues to mature. What an amazing chemistry the two of you are going to continue to create over the span of her intermediate years. Your perspectives on how the world actually works–not always kind to Snow White’s—-will help her develop the tools to remain who she was born to be. We need more Maddie’s! Snow White is my absolute favorite Fairy Tale…in any and all versions. I just love that you fully recognize how remarkable your daughter is. That’s a gift to her! Debra

    1. Lovely words, Debra.Allow me to mix my Grimms and say they sound like those of one of the good fairies in The Sleeping Beauty. Wonderful wishes for the future, thank you.

  10. Wonderful post, Kate. There are among the young, I’ve noticed, souls that are able to stay the course between all those pesky extremes that have so plagued many of us older students of life… It’s almost as if they entered already knowing the lessons we came to learn, and their presence (and presence) has the effect of an automatic pilot that makes minute adjustments that nudge a plane back on course.

  11. beautifully put and you have done very very well to have a snow white, mine went through many stages before she arrived at snow white at the age of about twenty.. wonderful words! c

    1. Thanks Celi! Most relieved to hear you have found a way to sell your ways with the road closed. That was a thought turn of events. I suspect you have a little of Snow White about you, the way you handled that with such good humour!

  12. What a lovely portrait of your daughter, Kate. She’s a blessing and, I’d venture, an unwitting counterbalance to that Mother who occasionally “harbours bad thoughts,” has “a fiery tempestuous approach to life,” and voices “a polarised set of opinions.”

    I doubt Maddie will lose this approach to life during her teen years; a leopard does not change its spots except to grow more beautiful.

  13. A delightful, gentle, and thoughtful portrayal of Maddie. Youngsters, in their innocence, often set we adults examples of how best to behave. They are a constant source of pleasure and wisdom.

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