Lorinda had cleared her calendar so she and Pancakes could spend the day together. She imagined a picture-postcard afternoon: a medley of fairy tales at the puppet theater, high tea, light shopping. But already it seemed she would have to contend with her daughter’s argumentative behavior.
Pancakes had been excited about the puppet theater, but soon after the performance began she had reacted to key moments with exasperated sighs that did not go unnoticed by the other people sitting near them. At intermission, Pancakes complained that the material wasn’t “challenging enough,” but she didn’t want to leave. “I think I should see what else they come up with,” she told her mother. “Maybe part of the problem is their source material.” So they stayed, but Pancakes didn’t seem any more satisfied with the latter half of the show.
Later, when they were in a cab and heading across town to have tea, Pancakes offered her critique. “Not a bad production,” she admitted. “I guess I’m just surprised by the kinds of messages they’re sending to kids.” This last part she said as if she were not herself only a few months into being nine.
Lorinda felt on shaky ground. She suddenly wished Emiliano were with them. He enjoyed these kinds of conversations with Pancakes. Plus, then she could hit him on the arm for turning their little girl into a precocious literature critic. “What messages are they sending, honey?”
“Well, like Rapunzel. She’s just so passive about her whole situation. All she does is grow her hair!”
“What’s she supposed to do?” Lorinda asked. “She’s in the tower. She can’t escape from there. It’s too far down.”
“I don’t know,” Pancakes said. “But I don’t see how having a guy climb up there is going to help. She needs to get down.”
“But she can’t get down. She needs someone to come help her. And her true love does that.”
“I don’t buy it,” Pancakes said. That prompted an eye-roll from Lorinda. Pancakes grinned.
“What don’t you buy?” Lorinda asked.
“If her hair is long enough for somebody to climb up, why doesn’t she climb down?” Pancakes asked. “She could cut off her hair and make it into a rope. Then she could just climb down.”
“But what about her true love?” Lorinda asked. “What does he do?”
“Well, if he’s her true love, then they’ll meet anyway, right?” Pancakes asked. “Otherwise, he was just in the right place at the right time. Anybody could have come by and climbed up there. I bet if Rapunzel figured out how to get down on her own, she might meet some other guy. The way it is, she just waits around for whoever comes along.”