I’m Going To Hades. With My Daughter.

I’m happy to have filmed Maia’s lyrical rewrite of Athena’s birth. Countering Hesiod’s long believed account, Maia feels that Athena was made of raccoons and loved riding horses through the sea as well as over hills. I regret not capturing the song my then three-year-old belted out just before this one. In the same spirited voice she sang, “I’m going to Hades/ I’m going to Hades/ Yes, I’m going to Hades/ To visit Persephone!”

My daughter Maia loves Greek mythology. I love that she sings happily – and loudly enough for all the neighbors to hear – of Hades. As I grudgingly admit that I’m less left, more establishment, I appreciate Maia’s edge.

I first suspected my conservatism when we outfitted our bourgeois BOB stroller with bike safety lights and welcomed rather than dodged police cruiser presence in our quiet neighborhood. And when I missed Occupy Now. Really, America? You wait until I’m wearing an infant to flirt with revolution? On the eve of the movement, I anticipated flying elbows and tear gas, neither of which seemed a good idea with a toddler in hand and a baby in the Moby wrap.

Granted, I’ve never been a great Marxist. I love Walter Benjamin’s writings. And expensive shoes. I believe in “The Story of Stuff” but despite good intentions I have more stuff than I really need. It seems my lived experience doesn’t always match up with my ideals.

Maia’s does. When she swings, she’s not just considering the story she sings. She’s living it. She’s committed to the adventure. Even the Hades part. For Maia, death is neither frightening nor prescriptive. She dreams of one day joining Heracles in Olympus, where she’ll help him defeat foes. She also believes in the rainbow bridge to Asgaard, and considers becoming a Valkrie. She says a more conventional prayer “to another god in the skies” before lunch with her classmates at Parents’ Day Out because, she says, “I like the way they fold their hands.”

For Maia, immortality permeates other narratives, too. Like in this recent exchange:

Maia: You know Little Red Riding Hood?

Me: Yes.

Maia: She’s the goddess of clothing. And axes.

I’m reminded of A. A. Milne’s capitalization in Winnie-the-Pooh. Until recently, I thought Milne’s capitals for emphasis. I read them like a kind of punctuation. Now, however, I suspect they’re not unlike deification. Like Rumor in Virgil’s Aeneid is a corporal being that personifies the concept, Dreams imply something physical for Milne’s readers:

For my imaginative daughter, Dreams are more than possible. They’re real.


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