Thursday, November 5, 2009

Fractured Fairytales - Hansel and Gretel: A Mother’s Intervention Journal

I tried, dammit. I tried to get my little muffins back. I remembered that day so well, the day their lives changed forever.
10/01: I went to work. It was like any other day. I left the children at home, thinking they would just watch some television. I warned them not to go off running into those blasted woods! Oh, sure, I could just hear other mother’s pooh-poohing me for not hiring a babysitter. But they don’t realize my situation. That louse of a man ran off with his latest hottie, leaving me to work two jobs just to make ends met. Every time I threatened to take him to court for child support, he came crawling back to me with his, “Yah, I always love yun, me poppy.”

Let him shove his “Yah, me poppy” up a damp, dark place - sideways! I would take him to court this time. But I had to raise enough money for the lawyer. One more paycheck and I would have it. I told Hansel, “Yah, Hansel. Yun listen to yun muoter and watch after yun sustor, Gretel. And stay outten them woods!”

“guten Tag,” Hansel shouted.

I hated that. It was all he said now whenever I talked to him: ‘guten Tag’ this and ‘guten Tag’ that. “Taken outz the trash, Hansel - guten Tag.” He was just saying it to be cool in front of his friends. I now understood how American mothers became so ticked off with their kids whenever they got the answer, “whatever.” So annoying.
10/02: I didn’t mean to work the double shift, but Olga called in sick and they offered me overtime pay. How could I pass this up? I called home and Hansel answered the phone. He seemed distracted by something. I told him to heat up two frozen entrees for dinner, the diet one for Gretel.

She had become very self-conscious about her weight. Where some girls would diet constantly trying to be the ‘perfect anorexic model,’ Gretel was eating too much. She had given up and sought food for comfort. Everywhere she walked, crumbs fell off her clothes.

Tomorrow, I would talk with her about the overeating. Maybe we could figure it out.
Got home late. I collapsed right on the couch, hearing Hansel’s television in his room. He fell asleep with it on, saying his sister snores too loud. I wanted to give them kisses. But I was so tired that I didn’t even think I could crawl up the steps to hop into the shower.

I started to fall asleep to the sound of a commercial - something about friendly neighborhood watch and asking the viewer if they know where their children are.

Mine were in bed, sleeping. I curled up on the couch to visit the sandman myself.
10/03: Oh, GOD . . .

They weren’t there! I woke up expecting to find Hansel eating his Lucky Charms cereal and Gretel finishing off her fourth Pop Tart. But the kitchen was empty. I ran upstairs and saw their beds neat. They never made their beds. I did them yesterday. I knew I did them yesterday.

Where were my Hansel and Gretel?

The basket was gone from the cupboard and their wooden shoes were missing by the front door. The woods. They went in AGAIN! Gretel would always take along bread to snack on during their exploration trips. She would leave crumbs everywhere. I would follow the crumb trail. They were in serious trouble this time.

No. That didn’t matter. So long as they were all right. That was the only thing important now.

I was frightened. They never stayed out there all night . . .
I couldn’t find any crumbs. I crawled around on my knees, looking. Animals must have eaten them first. I started along a trail anyway, hoping to spot something.

Wait! Was that bread there? I rushed over to check, but a damn crow flew down. It glared at me when eating then flew up on the branch. I was about to pick up a rock and hit it but noticed the bird had pooped while eating. And more bird droppings led off further into the brush. I knew it seemed weird, but I had this mother’s instinct and it was telling me to follow the bird poop to find my children.

What had I to lose?

I ran around the trees calling out my kids’ names. In the deepest parts of the woods, a strange smell blew over me. I felt as if I had walked into a bakery. Yet the odor was overpowering, as if the food had been left to spoil for a week. The overabundant sweetness caused my teeth to ache. I pushed through the thicket and came across a strange sight.

A house? I found a house at the center of the woods. I never saw anything built like this before. It had gingerbread shingles and candy cane beams. The fireplace stack consisted of red licorice. I walked up to the sugar-frosted window and peeked inside.

Children. Many children sat on couches eating sweets. Their eyes were sunken in and skin looked unhealthy and bloated. Several staggered when walking across the room. Were they strung-out on sugar? Doped up on gumdrops? I heard of this before, reading it in a school pamphlet. I had tossed the papers out not believing something like this could ever happen to my own kids.

I saw Hansel and Gretel laying on the floor, their mouths lifted in sickly grins, their lips coated in white frosting.

Despite the danger I broke in the door. The dealer sat at the kitchen table, rolling out dough while pocketing the cash. I pushed the hag away when she tried to stop me. She tripped when falling backward and landed into her own oven. Served her right. Let her experience her own evil ways - the horrible witch!

I draped Hansel over my shoulder and grabbed Gretel’s hand. I got her to lean against me as we staggered home.
10/04: Hansel rested on the couch. He hadn’t gone “all the way” while being in that horrible candy house. I had to lock Gretel in her room. When she came down off her “high,” she tried to run back out into the woods. I tackled her to the ground. My own daughter! I tackled her like an American football player. She screamed and cried and cussed me out. “Muoter! Letten me go!”

It broke my heart to see her like this.

Hansel told me everything. They came across the candy house about a month ago. The dealer seemed so nice, offering free samples. Hansel and Gretel had learned in school to, ‘just say no.’ But the peer pressure was there, and they saw a few of their friends hanging out. So what was the big deal? It started innocently, popping a Pez candy pill here and there. Then it migrated to smoking on the bubble gum cigars. Hansel and Gretel thought they could handle themselves. Yet even while at home, they couldn’t stop doing it. At night, they snuck out for more. They sold illegal music downloads on Craigslist to buy treat “baggies.”

This was the real reason for Gretel’s weight gain. Unlike Hansel, who had paced himself between highs, Gretel became swallowed into her addiction. She had moved up to snorting down the sugary Pixy Stix, making the lines on the mirror and using the straw to huff it up. Then, when she didn’t receive any fulfillment from this anymore, she started pulling taffy.

I sat on the front step crying and listening to Gretel banging on her bedroom door. After I got over the sadness, I realized I had to keep strong for my children’s sakes. We would get through this together.
11/1: I finally had a chance to write in my journal. Things have gotten better for all of us.

Hansel has returned his normal self, doing more around the house without being asked. He won’t even look at any sweets and switched over to eating bagels for breakfast instead of the sugary cereal.

I’ve made progress with Gretel. She still had the shakes now and again from the cravings. Yet she substituted chewing on carrots instead of on licorice. She lost a good 40 pounds too, and felt better about herself with each passing day. The real test came at Halloween. Hansel and Gretel passed out snacks to the trick-or-treaters without eating any themselves.

I was so proud of them. I gave each a big hug. “Yah, me Hansel and Gretel. Yun done made yun muoter so happy!”

Gretel giggled and Hansel nodded as he said, “guten Tag!” I didn’t mind those words this time. It was a good day.

*Note: By the way... if anyone has any other fairy tales or rhymes they want "Surly-fied," drop them in the comments or email me about it ( I have a cool thing with "The Pied Piper" featuring a "Lord of the Flies" spiel mixed in with "Guitar Hero." But I need others...*


  1. This is an awesome rendition. I'm not sure if I'm really buying the "German accent" of the dialogue, but that's okay. The hilarity of it all makes up for that part. Nice post, Michelle.

  2. Love it! Makes much more sense than the original!

    BTW... come on over to the CatLady's house tomorrow... I have a little present for you!

  3. Eric: I'll be the first to admit that I don't know a lick of German but "guten Tag." So my accent is probably way off. Yet I needed something to give a different feel during their conversations, and really resrticted it to just one-liners.

    I DID look up certain words like "muoter," which is Old High German for "mother." I swiped the Middle English, "suster," and substituted "sustor."

    I'm such a word geek!
    CatladyLarew: I could never get into the original. I think the mother's point of view is much more realistic.

    I'll be by your place on the 'morrow.

  4. By the way... if anyone has any other fairy tales or rhymes they want "Surly-fied," drop them in the comments or email me about it.

    I have a cool thing with The Pied Piper featuring a Lord of the Flies spiel mixed in with "Guitar Hero." But I need others...

  5. This is a frickin' brilliant idea, MDGF! Brilliant!

  6. MLGF: Thanks! This was one of my better stories.

  7. Ist zehr gut! Or something like that.

    Good work, Michelle!

  8. Knucklehead: Thanks! Glad you liked it!

  9. Enjoyed this one too Michelle. Can't imagine what "The Pied Piper" featuring a "Lord of the Flies" spiel mixed in with "Guitar Hero." is going to turn out like. :o)

  10. This a really fun piece! You really made my day!

  11. Ruth & Glen: Why, The Pied Piper will turn out rockin', in a childlike, beastial, way (I'm not sure I'm adding the pig's head on a stick yet). Glad you liked my rendition of Hansel and Gretel!

    Mary: I try to bring smiles here despite my "surly" blog name.

  12. Very 'Wicked'! Fairy tales or poems? Humpty Dumpty for sure. These are truly fractured fairy tales. (Sorry, couldn't resist.)

  13. Happy Hour: Thanks for the kind words and for stopping by! Humpty Dumpty... hmmm. Yes. I could see a nice spin-off.

  14. Oh! all those Grimms Fairy Tales of old!! THose would be cool to do!

    Love this....

  15. Kat: OHHH! Grimm tales. Good idea! Thanks!

  16. Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

  17. The information here is great. I will invite my friends here.



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