Monday, March 28, 2005

Explaining Camilla to children

There has been a lot of media coverage regarding the upcoming royal wedding which I would think has piqued the interest of people of all ages. Children love a fairy tale, no more so than when it's a real one. When Charles married Diana at the wedding of the century, the Archbishop of Canterbury said "this is the stuff of fairy tales", and we believed it ourselves. If we could only freeze frame that moment in time we could ignore it's ending and look 20 years younger.

I'm sure there was some difficulty with parents having to explain Diana's death and even more difficult if they're curious about Dodi and the conspiracy theories.With Camilla the story gets much more complicated than 'they lived happily ever after'. Weren't things supposed to turn out differently? Yes, Dick and Jane they were.

Like explaining the facts of life or thermonuclear physics, there is no simple answer regarding Charles and Camilla. However, one must always be prepared for such an eventuality; children look to us for leadership and sustanance so to present anything other than blithe reasurrance could be traumatizing. Not answering properly could be the pivitol moment where children realize their parents know nothing and have been bluffing all along.

All children have a natural curiosity which, depending on the subject, should be encouraged.On the bright side we could look upon this as a valuable and informative way to teach them about the world. So what is the best way to do this? Should we broach the topic ourselves? If so we need to choose our words very carefully before they hear the truth in the school yard. This wouldn't be on the epic level of deception as Santa Claus but it could still burst a few bubbles. Of course we would want them to keep an open mind regarding her, so calling her a trolloppe would be biased; better go with the more middle ground, all purpose, floosie. More importantly we don't want them calling every rotweiller they come across Camilla. We could also briefly explain the long and sordid history of royal mistresses; every family needs something to be proud of.

Not to mention judging a person by their appearance; time marches across everyone's face. Camilla's future title could introduce them to the elitist society in which we live but touching on the religious and legal issues regarding the marriage could go over their heads. The fact that Charles' parents aren't coming to the wedding and the complexities of parental approval could be worrisome even for the most secure of children. Best to omit that part so they can find out for themselves.

We could try to avoid the whole topic of Charles and Camilla entirely by switching to another channel or cutting those stories out of the newspaper but some would consider that to be censorship. They will need to be exposed to reality at some point, so starting with this and a part-time job could be a good segue way.

Once they've been temporarily reassured we could also let them know that maybe this story will end in a 'happily ever after'. We just might have to wait 20 years to find out.

© Marilyn Braun 2005

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