Gal Smiley and I finally reached the end of Little House on the Prairie last week. She loved it, and I loved it, and we had many great conversations about the differences between life on the prairie and our life – and the remarkable similarities between Gal Smiley and Laura. I guess six-year-old girls are six-year-old girls, regardless if they live in surburbia or the open plains. There’s still the love of animals, the resistance to hair brushing, the rush to help your mother douse fires in the chimney. Well, maybe not that last one.
The whole book is about a year in the life of the Ingalls family on the prairie. In it, they build a house from scratch, furniture from scratch, a hearth from scratch. They cut through virgin soil with a plow and lay down all kinds of fruits and vegetables from carefully preserved seeds. They dig a well and one of their ponies has a baby and they forge and uneasy truce with the Indians nearby. It’s a whole year of work, work, and more work, just to establish the most fragile of homes.
And then – I really hope this does not spoil the book for y’all – in the very last chapter, they…MOVE ON. Seriously. They find out that the government is going to zone the land as an Indian reserve (the Ingalls were squatting there and did not own the land). So what does Pa Ingalls do? He just throws everything in the wagon and off they go. Bye bye house, bye bye stable, bye bye well and garden and fireplace.
I was so upset. I had BONDED with that prairie house. I felt every inch of work they did to build up that place. And then one day, POOF, it’s over. WTF, CHARLES INGALLS?
But while I was exclaiming and exclaiming about the horror, oh the horror, you know what Gal Smiley said?
She said, “Did they get to bring their special friends [meaning, their stuffed animals that they sleep with]?”
And I said, “I’m sure they did.”
And she said, “And did their Mommy and Daddy come, so they were all together as a family?”
And I said, “Yes, they were.”
And she said, “That’s okay, then.”
Ah, wise, wise Gal Smiley, That is okay, then.