Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Little House on the Prairie

The Dunbars (maybe excluding Paul) love Little House on the Prairie (LHOTP). I've read all the books to the kids. I thought the boys might not like it, but Little House in the Big Woods is full of panthers and there is always danger of some sort--so a big hit all around. Last year I got one season of the tv show on dvd and Phoebe got another for her birthday this year. At the park down the street there's an old-school jungle gym that's shaped like a covered wagon with horses on springs in front of it. Right next to it is a wooden fort (also old-school playground stuff). We play LHOTP there. Sometimes Phoebe is Mary, Moses is Laura and Ollie is baby Carrie. Sometimes Phoebe and Mo are Ma and Pa and Ollie is is Laura. We haven't gotten to Albert yet in the show, so there is a dirth of male charachters. No one seems to mind, which is great.

Yesterday we took Paul's "new" vehicle out for a spin in the country (1982 Jeep Wagoneer with wood paneling). Paul got out some map with crazy details (crucial in birdwatching, I guess) to find minimum maintenence roads so we could put'er in four wheel drive. Minimum maintence roads (for you city slickers) are basically sandy tracks through the prairie with grass growing up the middle. We found some great ones--it's actually hilly in very northwest corner of Adams county. We parked the jeep and filled our pockets (and mouths) with wild plums the kids picked out of the thicket. I cut all manner of wildflowers to take home. We strolled up the road (no cars or houses around for miles) and caught grasshoppers and toads.

At one point a foot path (for cattle maybe?) veered off the road and up into a field. Phoebe and I took it, as we were the only two in long pants. It climbed up about six or eight feet so we could just see over the little blue stem and down on the boys in the road on our right. On our left was open prairie. We could see soy bean fields on all sides, be we were walking through a patch of native--gorgeous--prairie.

We walked and talked and sucked on plums, spitting the pits out on the ground. I said, "You know what? This makes me feel like Laura Ingalls."

"WHY?" Phoebe asked a little indignantly, which I thought was wierd. Wasn't it obvious?

I said, "Well, we're walking out here on the prairie and they lived on the prairie. We're eating wild plums, and that seems like the sort of thing she would do --they lived on Plum Creek after all. And I bet she walked paths just like this between their house and their neighbors house and..." I could have gone on and on.

But Phoebe said, "No, I don't get why you feel like Laura and not Ma."


Thirty two years caught up with me in a rush. BANG. I'm old. Phoebe is Laura and I am Ma.

But I was always Laura in my mind. Spunky younger sister to smart, pretty older sister...? I always wished I was more of a tomboy and got in a little more trouble to really seal my identity as Half Pint. I also always wished I had an arch nemisis like Nelly Olsen, but what can you do? Reading the books and watching the show growing up I...WAS...LAURA. And now Phoebe thinks she's Laura. Truth be told, she's more of a Mary, if you ask me, but maybe that's just bitterness talking.

I can't believe how much this shocked me. I can't believe that I'm seriously having to readjust my self-image. I am Ma. Of course, Phoebe sees me as Ma. I'm the MOM. I have three kids, just like Caroline (before Grace & Albert came along, we haven't gotten to them in the series yet). I cook the meals. I discipline the children (though that was really more Pa's job). I manage the household. I am Ma. I guess it's time to pass the torch...painful as it is, and accept that I'm a grownup.

But, even Laura grew up. She met Almonzo (oooooo...Manly!) and got married and moved out of Ma and Pa's house and had a child of her own.

Maybe I'll just think of myself as the grown up Laura--hair upswept instead of in braids, freckles faded, buck teeth mysteriously corrected--but still mischevious half-pint at heart. Then Phoebe and I can both be Laura--her in Little House in the Big Woods,the first couple books and season 1-5 of the show and me in These Happy Golden Years, The First Four Years and seasons 6-9 plus the subsequent tv movies. Seems like a good compromise.

Yes, I'm totally geeked out on LHOTP. You go ahead and geek out on your Lord of the Rings or Star Wars or D&D....or whatever. I'm sticking with the Ingalls gang...and Narnia...and...

1 comment:

Angela said...

I love LHOTP as well. Have you noticed that every episode has some major tragedy that they pull through. I have a hard time believing that I am not the young Laura as well. It seems as though I was just in high school. How time flies! Hope you are doing well! I enjoy reading your posts. You are a great writer! Love, Angela