“That’s an angel,” Sally said.
“What? Are you sure?” I responded, surprised. How could she think that monster was an angel?
“Yes. That’s an angel.” She was sure.
And then I suddenly it all made sense and I understood not only why Sally identified Medusa as “an angel” but also why she identified the angel who appeared to Mary as “Mary’s fairy godmother.” Let me explain.
First of all, this is a Weeping Angel. The Weeping Angels are introduced in what is probably the best Doctor Who episode ever, Blink. They turn to stone when you are looking at them, but when you’re not looking at them, they spring to life again. And if they touch you, they feed off of your time energy and send you back in time.
Sally absolutely loves Doctor Who, and has watched Blink several times through. Furthermore, the Weeping Angels have played a role in a decent number of episodes since that first one. By now, Sally knows them quite well. So when Sally looked at Medusa, she saw a Weeping Angel.
As I thought about it, I realized that the Weeping Angels were Sally’s introduction to the entire concept of angels. So when I read Sally the Christmas story in December and told her that an angel had visited Mary, well, it’s no wonder she was confused. And it’s no wonder that in rereading the story to her baby brother, she substituted the word “angel” for a term she felt better described the character: “Mary’s fairy godmother.” Fairy godmothers, after all, show up mysteriously to speak to young women and help them out when they’re in trouble. Angels, in contrast, are scary monsters.
What I think I find most fascinating here is Sally’s ability to move back and forth between these different mythical and fictional stories and universes and recognize parallels. The connections she makes are fascinating.
Also, please, whatever you do, don’t tell Sally she has her own guardian angel. I’d really like her to continue sleeping through the night.