Before the sun sets on her sixteenth birthday,I was thinking about this line when I woke today. It seems to be more significant now that I have a sixteen year old. If you remember the story, the good fairy Merriweather counteracted the spell by saying she would not die, but rather would fall into a deep sleep, only to be awakened by love's first kiss.
She shall prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel...and die!
~Malificent from Sleeping Beauty (Disney version)
The king's reaction, like any good father, is to burn every spinning wheel in the land. I'm pretty sure he was reacting to the idea of the kiss, not the spinning wheel. This is an excellent example of extreme child safety. A modern example would be the new Child Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), which has removed more children's clothes, books, and toys from the shelves and racks of my local thrift shop than a pack of bargain hunters the morning after Thanksgiving. But I digress. The king figured if the spinning wheels weren't there, the princess couldn't prick her finger. The good fairies thought they knew even better. They figured if the princess wasn't there, she couldn't prick her finger. So they bundle her off and hide her in the woods for sixteen years.
I once wrote a short story sequel to Sleeping Beauty. In my story, the princess asks the third fairy what her gift would have been, had she not been interrupted. The fairy had appreciated the interruption because she was having trouble choosing from three gifts. When the princess presses her about those choices, the fairy tells her. The fairy's gift ideas were common sense, diplomacy, or infinite knowledge. If anyone wants to see the story, I would be happy to reprint it on my blog.
The point (no pun intended) is that we cannot protect our children from every danger. The newly turned sixteen year old had never seen a spindle. Aside from the Disney version, which makes it seem as if the girl is under Malificent's spell, every version of this story that I have read shows a curious princess who has never seen a spindle before and handles it without caution. I'm assuming there was nothing sharp at all in the castle or the fairies' cottage, because she doesn't seem to know that pointy things can hurt.
How different would the story have been if the king had shown his young daughter the spinning wheel and said, "Sharp! Ouch! No touch." We can't always be there to protect them from the dangers they face, but we can guide them and inform them so that when they are ready to go out into the world, they will make smart choices, instead of pricking their finger on the first spindle they see.