For several months at bedtime, Snowflake #1 and I read the Little House on the Prairie series. The daddy-daughter time was wonderful and the books provided incredibly vivid insight into another era.
We’d talk about what it must’ve been like being a little girl (or a dad) so long ago. I’d ask Snowflake if she could imagine going someplace that no one had ever gone before. How terrifying and exciting it must’ve been. What if we we needed to grow absolutely everything we needed to eat or had to make the clothes we needed to wear?
The books were sometimes scary for these reasons and sometimes for others. Snowflake didn’t seem to be upset at the notion of having to spend the entire winter indoors, but the concept of “children not speaking until they’re spoken to” or eating absolutely everything you’re served? Completely terrifying.
As a parent, there were other semi-scary parts. Occasional passages share beliefs that have become… outdated would be as polite a term as possible, though I don’t want to dismiss even mild racism. We’d talk about these episodes when they arose and how times have changed for the better. This said, I do wish I’d skipped the chapter with the minstrel show altogether. I’m not advocating or censorship, but the concept of blackface is something that I’d have preferred to not have to explain for another couple of years… when its inappropriateness can be better understood and discussed.
We’re still in the phase where we wonder why everyone can’t be nice to absolutely everyone else. Certain opinions I hope will never change.
Sometimes Snowflake would question the motivation of the characters and she’d grow incensed regarding why they’d do some of the things they did. Sometimes her anger would fester.
There were times I couldn’t explain the whys to Snowflake’s satisfaction. There’s really little value to losing sleep because you can’t argue with someone who’s been dead for a hundred years, I’d offer to no one’s approval. When everything else failed, I offered to ask Laura Ingalls Wilder… the next time we saw her.
Why would I say such a thing? I didn’t have an acceptable answer to that either.
When we finally finished the series, we spent a couple of nights on Wikipedia and other sites looking at what became of the Ingalls and Wilder families after we last saw them, when Laura was a young woman with a child of her own. Worth a mention, few lives might have been as fascinating as Laura’s real-life daughter, Rose, who was born on a dirt floor in a log cabin in the South Dakota territory in the 1880s, was a war correspondent well into her 70’s, and lived long enough to see rockets carry astronauts into space.
Finally, there arose the question of what we’d read next and Snowflake insisted on my books. Was I flattered? Definitely, but this time when grilled about the motivations of the characters, I really was supposed to have the answers. This story has a happy ending however, because Snowflake was beyond elated that both she and her sister show up at the end of my second novel with superpowers of their own. Nothing else seemed to matter.
I still want to thank Ms. Wilder for sharing tales of her life. I wish I hadn’t waited quite so long before reading her stories myself. I hope she won’t mind that when it’s time to share her adventures with Snowflake #2, I’m going to skip the part with the minstrel show. I can only hope Snowflake #2 will be as willing to let me share the spotlight.