(In both these dialogues, I speak in farsi and the princess in english.)
Story number 1
-Mommy, do you know the artist who had a very bad life, and no-one liked his pictures, so he chopped his own ear off?
-Er, yes. Who told you about him? (and couldn’t the dumbhead left the graphic details out? I don’t want you to know there is any sadness and violence in the world- at least not more than what you see in Disney cartoons. Not now. Maybe in the next hundred years or so.)
-Our teacher. He painted a picture called Sunflowers, and our teacher showed it to us, and we all painted our own sunflowers.
-Wow. You saw Van Gogh’s Sunflowers? And then you drew your own?
-Yes. And we hung them in class. And we saw Starry Night as well. Next time, I’m gonna draw that. Mommie, why did people like his paintings only after he was dead? Why didn’t they like them when he was alive, so he didn’t chop his ear off?
-Well. It often happens like that. There are lots of artists who become famous after they die. It has nothing to do with dying- it’s only because it takes a long while for lots of people to see their art and like it. Will you draw me Sunflowers like Van Gogh?
So, the next day, like any good bourgoise middle-class mom intent on delivering the next Picasso/Marie Curie/Serena Williams to the world, I rushed to the giant art section of the nearest giant supermarket and bought a set of brand-new paints (although she already has at least two sets of half-used and drying paints lying round the place) and a huge wad of poster-size white paper. When the princess came home from school, I was ready for her. And she was more than willing to oblige. Within half-an-hour, we had our own version of van Gogh’s Sunflowers: a beautiful painting of large bright yellow flowers with dark brown centres, scattered on a rich deep blue blackground. Unfortunately, the golden boy was doing his best to tear it to shreds, given our delighted reaction, and we had a hard time putting it on the wall. Nevertheless, after some tough neogotiating and manouvering we succeeded, and it now occupies a place of honour on our living room wall.
Story number 2
-Today was Pink Day, Mommie. Everyone had to wear pink.
-I didn’t know that! It’s a good thing we both wear pink every day then! So why was it Pink Day?
-Because there was a little boy who went to school wearing a pink shirt, and there were some bigger guys who were bothering him because he was wearing pink, so all the soccer team of that school decided to wear pink . To help the boy who was wearing pink.
I am silent for a bit, thinking this through. I really want to ask if the little boy was hurt, or even dead, but somehow I can’t. I feel it has to be something really dramatic for a soccer team to wear pink. The princess can see I am impressed, so she follows it up:
-And tomorrow is Black Day! Same story, only about a little girl! And we all have to wear black tomorrow!
-Princess! No you don’t! Bedtime- now!