I thought I'd have Eva tell her own story, so I'm interviewing her as I type.
Me: What did we find under your bed yesterday? Do you remember?
Eva: Gleefully, "Yep!"....(long pause)...."What?"
M: Something green...
E: What was it?
M: Little...something you can eat...has to do with a princess...
E: Dying of suspense (like all of you?), "What was it mom?!? Can you tell me? Tell me right now!"
M: Two, shrivelled up, dried out, green peas. Why were they under your bed, Eva?
E: Smiling mischievously, "Because I wanted to play the "pea and the princess."
M: Can you tell me that story?
E: No, I won't do it.
Well OK, end of interview.
So, I will tell the story. I don't have any idea how long those peas have found their residence under the mattress, but it could be as long as a year (I never claimed to be a housekeeping goddess!). I smiled when I found them, knowing exactly why they were there.
Around the time that Hope was born, Eva had a huge fascination with traditional story tales, and especially "The Princess and the Pea." I first told her the story before bed one night, and I really just made it up as I went along, trying to recall the details. I hadn't read the story myself since I was probably six years old, so the details were a little fuzzy (and as it turned out, some were altogether wrong). The story climaxes as the queen places one little green pea under twenty mattresses and twenty feather beds in order to test the maiden's claim to royalty. Surprisingly, Eva asked for that story night after night for weeks. Eventually she would tell me exactly what story she wanted, how it should be told, what each character should say, and correct every small deviation from the original. She knew this story by heart!
After a few days, I would hear her telling this story to her stuffed animals or doll, always word for word exactly as I had told it the first night (and as she reminded me to tell it each night thereafter). After a few weeks, we began capitalizing on this feat of memorization, and we would ask Eva to entertain us or our friends and family with her rendition of the tale. It was so cute! The best part was when she would say, "The prince and the princess fell madly in love", emphasis on madly. Her quiet, high-pitched two year old voice is etched on my memory saying, "Once upon a time in a kingdom far, far away there was a prince who wanted to marry a princess...but it had to be a real princess..." Hopefully my memory will serve me for a long, long time!
Post script: There are many different regional versions of this tale, and we've checked out lots of them from the library. I think the original is by Hans Christian Anderson, and it ends with these words: "Now this is a true story."