dead mothers in children’s stories

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As a storytelling device, the dead mother is omnipresent in children’s literature, television and film. And I understand why. The point of the narrative is to play on the legitimate fear children have of losing a parent to death. Mom especially.

But lord, it’s tiresome.

Dee loves to check out dvd’s from the bookmobile and as she has yet another 3 day weekend looming, she needed to stock up last night. By chance, I noticed a dvd we’d seen recently at Walmart and she decided that it would serve. She’d recognized one of the teenage actresses from a television show she likes to watch on the odd occasions that she has access to commercial television.

I came home from teaching my yoga class at the community hall to find her disgruntled in front of the flat screen with said movie playing.

“What’s the matter?” I asked.

“I cannot believe this, “she said, her arms folded in disgust. “There is another dead mom.”

“Excuse me?”

She pointed to the actress on the screen.

“Her mom is dead,” she said. “Why are all the moms always dead?”

A good question.

Later I began to read to her from a novel that she was most anxious to acquire because she’d recently met the author at the Young Author’s Conference and on page six … dead mother.

“Seriously?” Dee asked.

I shrugged sheepishly and Dee just shook her head.

Trope or cliché? I think Dee would opt for the latter.