Her chin tucked in. Her little mouth curved upside down. Tears fell down her freckled cheeks. She watched Cogsworth and Lumière and Mrs. Potts turn lifeless. Her throat let out a mournful cry when Chip searched for his Mama then stiffened into porcelain, his anchor smashing on the ground. While, yes, this is a tale as old as time, there are still so many lessons to be learned from this story, even beyond preschool.
As a child this fairy tale provides all of the enchantment required to turn an imagination loose. Imagination for most of us gets tucked away in adulthood with unspoken plans to save it for a rainy day. With imagination out of the way, we begin to see that this is a tale of exclusion, isolation, desperation, self-interest and self-hatred. We can also see the magic of inclusion, family, compassion, patience, empathy and love. As an adult, I can observe these things. As a child, her wide open heart felt every piece of what they felt. Her tears told me so.
There are so many times that her Dad and I have been slapped by her maturing mind, forcing us to realise she is no longer a baby who only needs. Listening to her cries in that simple but complicated moment, I realised that empathy has unknowingly grown at her core, taking her from only needing to now being able to give. Somehow, someway, in her full four years, she has taken the strength, dedication, humour, interest and compassion from the women in her life along with the patience, understanding, unwavering adoration, encouragement and support from the men in her life and built her little self around all of it.
She witnessed the plight of these characters, recognized the life in them and mourned when their humanness dissolved. Love is what we do. Empathy is what connects us. Empathy allows us to see through the mirror. We are all the beauty. We are all the beast. But we are not always the beauty and we are not always the beast. In those beastly moments that we experience, we can only hope that beauty will be there to save us.
Very soon she will begin to face judgement, stigma, self-doubt, loss, misunderstanding, unworthiness, and inhumanity. I realise now more than ever what a big job we have ahead of us in guiding her through the feeling and giving while also needing. What an overwhelming responsibility that we all have for each other.
But the most important lesson we can learn from this tale is that understanding, compassion, love and empathy brought them back to life.