My progeny took a developmental leap today. She watched The Wizard of Oz!
She already knew a good deal about the plot. And - unlike her mama at age 6 - she has the good sense to know what might give her nightmares. So she often wanted reassurance that, 'It's not really real, right? It's just a story?' (Example: “A real witch didn’t really get killed under that house, right?”)
Still, Li’l G was captivated. Even as I write, she is humming, “Ding dong, the witch is dead!”
And me, I was oddly elated because as I realized, Li’l G had taken a massive stride in acquiring cultural literacy - the literacy of my culture, which is not automatically hers because she’s growing up in Europe and I grew up in northeastern U.S.A.. Now every time an English speaker jokes about not being in Kansas anymore, she will get it! The old line that there’s no place like home? That, too, she will get!
She’ll know why I call her my munchkin, where the yellow brick road leads; she’ll see why our impression of a witch features hideous cackling (and threats to small pets). And she’ll know why both disillusionment and wisdom result from peeking behind the curtain.
The references really seem stale. I can barely imagine a joke about ‘not being in Kansas anymore, Toto’ that could not sound tired. But the emerging sometimes-clever/sometimes-obnoxious grade-school humor will probably find it original and sophisticatedly ironic at some point. Hooray!
It is part of Li’l G’s U.S. cultural heritage. Granted, it might not be the single most glorious element of our American heritage (though not the most ignominious, either!). But I feel surprising happiness and relief that she has reached, with such verve, the (American) childhood milestone of watching The Wizard of Oz.