Today we did the read through on a new episode of The Martians Are Here. I had a lot of fun with a particular scene in which a child character (Rose) is saying goodbye to the mysterious “Shaggy Man”. Now the shaggy man is very old and comes across as very patient and wise and offers some advice to Rose and even playfully calls her “his apprentice”. Oh no he cried DUMBLEDORE!
Everybody knows the basic story arc of the boy sent off into the world guided by the Wizard who then finds a creative way to snuff it, leaving the boy to finish off the quest, slay the evil king or whatever general baddy there is to be slain in order to become a man/king/hero all at the same time.
What happens when it’s a girl? Does the she become the heroine/queen/woman? Is it a quest that’s in her heart?
At this point I have to say (from a male observers point of view) girls don’t do quests. That’s not to say they can’t, my 10 year old daughter went from a white belt to a world championship team based on nothing more than deciding that was what she wanted to do. All the same it was anything but a straight line to get there.
In my family and scope of test subjects, the boys are usually keep at it till its done types. If it’s a passion, it’s all consuming. The girls in the family take the scenic route, yep their headed in that direction but there’s so many more interesting things to look at on the way.
Which bought me back to the relationship between the Shaggy Man and Rose. Does she need a master/magician. Rose has already achieved a lot by the time the Shaggy Man makes his presence felt. She has solved a number of mysteries (and also completely failed to solve others) she has displayed many hidden talents and great resourcefulness and resilience. No she’s not the finished product but who is at 10?
So what would she do with a DUMBLEDORE? That was the question at the forefront of my mind. The Shaggy Man tells her quite a bit about himself but never gives her answers on anything else, always forcing her to do it herself. At the end of their time together the shaggy man refuses to teach her more because what she will learn in doing things her own way is more important than what he knows. Sheesh! some help. He doesn’t even outline what it is Rose needs to aim for: Overthrowing the evil king? Killing the monsters? Nope kid, do what you want to do.
Yet in terms of relationships, the Shaggy Man is as close to a parent as Rose will get. In the future ahead there are friends and lovers but this is the only moment she gets to feel what it is like to having her mum or dad back.
Maybe that is what he is there for, to remind her that in the end we all have to do it alone in life and make it work. We carry the ones we love in our hearts but in the end we have to provide our own answers and pick our own path, quest or not. Even at 10.
Or maybe he’s just a double agent pushing her off course in subtle ways. With TMAH, you never can tell.
Roses final comment on the Shaggy Man “Adults are Weird.” Maybe she’s onto something.