On the shore of the craptacular (literally) Lake Meritt in the heart of Oakland sits Children’s Fairlyland, a sweet little children’s park of which we are members. The park, founded in the 50s, was supposedly the inspiration for Disneyland. Fairyland is inhibited by magical creatures from nursery rhymes and tales, farm animals, and is filled with whimsical houses, slides, rides, theaters and — gasp! — a chapel. Most of the construction is kept authentic. Little was erected since the founding. I’m sure Fairyland doesn’t live up to the contemporary “safety” standards. In short, the whole place radiates old-school charm.
As we were heading to Fairyland this morning, DH was joking with Yelena:
“So, do you want to go to Children’s Fairyland, or to Adult Stark Reality Land?”
We brainstormed Stark Reality Land attractions: unemployment lines? Obamanomics slides?
Yelena absolutely loved the dragon slide on which she is now old enough to go. She went a dozen times. Ivan was trying to escape my surveillance and dip his feet into a creek.
Everything was going peachy-rosy until Yelena decided that she wants to watch a puppet show. Their puppet shows are usually lame. January this year they had something titled Ginger Bread Boy, which, I deduced was based on beloved Russian folktale Kolobok. (It’s a standard Indo-European tale, but, I think, Russians love it most.) Russian Kolobok is a round lump of bread who escapes grandma and grandpa, then a hare, then a wolf, then a bear until fox tricks him and eats him. That’s what must be wrong with Russia! Fairyland Ginger Bread Boy can not possibly meet such a fate. He escapes the fox, returns to grandma and grandpa and promises to never run away again.
Last year Fairyland had some sort of a Cinderella puppet show. They promised that it’s the “good” Cinderella, as opposed to Disney, who got it all wrong. I didn’t see much difference. They need to try harder next time.
This July they are doing The Reluctant Dragon. The title didn’t pass the nose test, and the show itself couldn’t hold Yelena’s attention. It was about St. George and the dragon who didn’t want to fight each other because they were both nice hippie types. The dragon, green and covered with pink flowers, wanted to write poetry, and St. George… I’m not sure what his deal was. The villages were afraid of the dragon and wanted St. George to kill him. This is what Christianity does to you, no doubt.
After the show DH quipped that the only thing more predictable than the play was my reaction to it:
“Were is the magic? Where is good and evil? A ride on the dragon slide thrills because dragons are dangerous!”
We saw a giddy mom recite the details of the play to her dumbfounded boy. But the boy should be the one giddy with excitement. This performance was a kind of stark reality for the boy who is probably beginning to realize that he will grow up without seeing a single play he likes or hearing a single tale that excites his imagination. For mom, on the other hand, it’s a pacifist fairyland.
My children are too young to get any sort of moral from this show, but I will be prepared when I see something like that in the future. The way to turn the tables on hippies is to explain that perhaps the villagers were afraid of the harmless dragon because they felt powerless. If they had swords like St. George, they’d feel different about the monster.