The single largest category of misconception I held in my youth was the existence of fairies. Perhaps it could be better termed magic or elves. Much like in the Grimm’s Fairy Tale “The Elves and the Shoemaker” about the cobbler visited by industrious, helpful little sprites who performed the shoemaker’s labor. Of course, being a child, I completely missed the underlying lessons regarding the value of compassion, philanthropy, and selflessness.
I assumed everyone had at least one of these pixies assigned to them at birth. How could I not? After dragging my feet, whining, and finally being threatened with infliction of physical harm if I got out of bed one more time, I would wake up the next morning, and the dishes were washed, clean clothes were laid out, and lunch was waiting in my lunchbox.
The same phenomenon took place in the garage. Whatever mess remained from cutting up scrap lumber, driving perfectly good nails into boards, or taking apart a bicycle, those darn imps followed closely behind to ready the workshop for the next day’s session.
Of course, I began to be disabused of the notion when my mother began making comments such as, “I’m not the maid.” The confusing part was she would shout this slogan while picking up my castoff clothing, much as I would expect a maid to do. What became of her elfin housekeeper? I wondered whether the elves who worked while I slept complained so much.
My father used slightly more colorful language, so the conclusion I drew was elves did not appreciate profanity and abandoned the salty old guy. I knew the situation was dire when I was handed a broom and dustpan. I was unsure what they were or how to put them to use.
As time went on, it became clear my clean-up fairies had abandoned me as well. I am now of the opinion there is some sort of elf union with a collective bargaining agreement that limits assignments to a specified age of the child.