Back in the early 1980′s when I was more of a Cappuccino Princess than a Cappuccino Queen, I remember watching fairy tales on VHS tapes (yes, I am that old). My parents would bring home a new fairy tale on what seemed like a weekly basis. I would watch stories about pretty Princess’ turning frogs into Prince’s with a kiss, Prince’s bringing back Princess’ from the death curse of an apple, and beastly creatures who were really good on the inside – if only the right woman came around to turn them into a handsome Prince.
As a parent, you might not think your child really believes this stuff. I was a believer, and if your child is anything like I was – she believes it too. I remember being five years old, looking at a frog, and actually wondering if that frog was really a Prince waiting to be kissed. As I grew older, of course I knew they were all just fairy tales; however, some of the lessons and the hope from those stories still remained. I believed that there was good in everyone, and was determined to find the good in even the beastly, dirty frog.
When I grew up, I found a frog. He presented himself as charming frog, he tried to clean up well, and even said many of the right things; however, he was still just a frog. When I started to see poor behavior from the frog, I said to myself, ‘he is really good inside – he must be because everyone is good deep down.’ It took me a little over a year to realize that this frog wasn’t turning into a Prince – this frog would stay a dirty, nasty, and evil little slippery frog…even after I kissed him.
How Psychopaths Use Fairy Tales:
When I met Luc, he made a point to tell me I was the first person he felt so strongly about that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me. When he proposed, he told me it was the first time he had proposed. I later learned that I was at least the third girl who had been told that same story. (One of the three of us didn’t survive the relationship) Why did he tell me that? He told me that because he wanted me to believe that I was the woman who would turn him from the beast into the “good guy”.
About eight months into the relationship, just after I found out I was pregnant with my son, Luc described a scenario where he had treated the woman before me horribly. After listening to the story, I was scared. I wondered how this man, whom I had wanted to believe was good deep down, could have treated someone that way. He tried to explain that it was the woman who was abusive toward him, and that was why he didn’t respect her. (Of course, always someone else’s fault) His son was sitting in the back seat of the car during this conversation. After listening to his father talk about treating this woman poorly, his son said, “would you do the same thing to Hera that you did to her?” Luc began to yell at his son saying, “How could you say that!? Of course not!” His son said that to his father because he had seen it happen over and over again. He knew it would eventually also happen to me.
You Had A Child With The Beast – Now What?
I had no delusions that keeping Prince safe would be easy, and I knew raising him to be that good man I knew he could be would be met with challenges (because his father was a beast). Recently, a mother asked me my advice about how she should handle the fact that her son was being conned by his father. This is a great question and one I gave a lot of thought to when I was planning for Prince to live a long and happy life. On one hand, one of the best case scenarios would be for the psychopath to show your child the “good side” and attempt to make him believe he is good (as the alternative is evil abuser). That being said, every protective mother knows that this facade cannot last. It is a normal concern to worry about the day when the mask drops and your child is devistated, or worse – injured or killed.
I don’t have all the answers and, sadly, Prince didn’t live long enough for me to have to shield him from the lies of his con man father. What I believed I would do, however, is never lie to my son. I would always tell my son the truth even if that meant exposing his father’s lies. For example, I imagined my son would come home telling me about how his father was going to be opening for a major musician in a concert. Then, he would likely have asked me if I remembered a time when I saw his father in concert. At this point, I would say to my son, “I have never seen your father in concert. To my knowledge, he has never been the opening act for any major artists. I am not sure why he would tell you that, but if you would like to go see him in concert – I will buy tickets and you can surprise him.” I would never have made excuses for Luc’s poor behavior and I would never allow Prince to believe something that wasn’t true – especially if he asked for my verification of the truth.
Lessons for my children:
I am not suggesting taking the magic out of childhood. By all means, I will tell my children about Santa Claus and encourage them to put their teeth under their pillow for the tooth fairy. I will, however, make sure my children have the best chance in life, and grow up understanding that not all people are good people and that people don’t just change because you love them or because you “kiss them”. We will watch fairy tales together and we will talk about the real lessons in life. I will tell my daughter to watch how the man (or frog) treats his mother, sisters, and previous girlfriends. If he is slimy and terrible to those women, he will do the same thing to you.
Prince was only 15 months when he died. While I did a lot of talking to him, I never got the chance to teach him life’s lessons. If I had, I would have told him not to be a frog – but to be a true Prince. I would have explained to him how important it is to just be a good guy – no scamming, conning, or cheating – just a good guy. If he was a good guy, he would find his princess.
The other day I went to see the movie “Oz the Great and Powerful”. There was a five year old little girl sitting behind me with her mother. For those of you who haven’t seen the movie, the bottom line is that Oz is a con man through and through. At a point in the movie, the little girl yelled out, “I told you Mama! I told you Oz was really a good guy!” For the little girl, her faith in humanity was restored through another fairy tale. For Cappuccino Queen, it was another example of a little girl who was being “set up” to believe that one day she would have the power to make a bad man into a good one.