When I first read The Gingerbread Boy as a child, I immediately interpreted the improbable fairy tale as being an allegory (without knowing what an allegory even was back then). And later as a young man I came to understand the fable as a metaphor for the pluckiness of youth, the ephemeral nature of innocence – and a cautionary tale about what can happen when you don’t heed the counsel of those who are more experienced and ostensibly have your best interests at heart. I often chuckle at the title itself, because of the way the boy cockily and far from ‘gingerly’ launches himself into a world filled with potential hazards – and predators lurking about, all eager to prey on both his naivete and his biscuity sweet flesh!
“By the time a man realizes that maybe his father was right, he usually has a son who thinks he’s wrong.”
~ Charles Wadsworth
I often hear people my age remark (with some consternation) that they find themselves turning into their parents. And while I differ greatly from both of my parents (and their parenting style), I think I know what they mean. As I’ve gotten older and the wiser for my experiences, I’ve found myself becoming increasingly connected to – and concerned about the welfare of – the younger members of our fascinatingly complex species, almost as if they were my own.
Of course, it may well be that I have no business trying to help or guide them. Surely they have people in their lives who are already doing that?
But just how forthcoming are these young men and women about their experiences with the people who are supposed to be looking out for them?
It’s been my experience that not many of them are.
I have a theory as to why this is.
You want to hear it?