September 17, 2016

11 Rules of Responsible Fairy Godparenting, By Jude Tulli


Welcome to Fairy Godparenting school. And congratulations on being accepted. That you’ve made it this far in the process to certification means one of two things:


1. You’re exceptionally giving and hard-working or

2. One or more of your ancestors were Fairy Godparents and you don’t know what you want to do with your life


I know that hardly sounds fair, but it’s the way life works. You need to know these things if you’re going to do any good as an FG. Let’s see…there are 1, 2, 3…oh, about 20 of you here today? Let me assure you, only one of you will graduate.

Don’t worry; we don’t use the word “flunk” here. Many of our dropouts become healers or royal consultants. You have to love FGing or you’ll simply burn out. I know Cinderella made it look easy, but honestly most of your protégés will disappoint you. Hers was truly the “Cinderella story” of Fairy Godparenting.

You’re probably wondering about it now more than ever so I’ll put the rumors to rest. YES, once upon a time, I was Cinderella’s FG. But let me assure you, she was one in a billion. The everyday experience of all FGs involves hefty doses of failure and frustration. Overeating is not actively discouraged as a coping mechanism. Which reminds me, FG and student dinner party Friday at 7:00. You’re all invited. There’ll be at least forty different kinds of cheeses! Bring your questions and real live FGs will regale you with their most colorful stories. Spoiler alert: most end in heartbreak.


Now before we get into our case studies, we need to start with the basics. There are 11 principles that guide everything we do as FGs. Actually there are 1,007, but like I said, we start with the basics. Plenty of time to look into a career in stage magic after the introductory class. I don’t want to scare you all away just yet. The school has to keep the lights on somehow and the queen won’t let us raise our tuition twentyfold.


In an order that makes sense to me but won’t mean much to you yet, here we go:

1. Beauty comes from within. You can’t project it where it doesn't already exist. A monster will only look more monstrous for your efforts no matter how hard you hit it with your magic wand.

2. Research, research, research. Watch how each potential protégé reacts to different situations. Does he or she give too much? Ask too little of others? Meet cruelty with generosity? Perfect. Don’t be creepy; just gather the relevant data.

3. Never FG for yourself. It’s not right and it won’t get you your heart’s desire. No matter how badly you want the Fairy Godfather of Lillington to notice you. He’ll just take one look at you in all your magnificence and say, “Broke rule number 3 again, did we?” 

4. You can’t FG for someone you already know. It just doesn’t work. Like the time my niece demanded an extension after midnight. It ended with a ruptured spleen and six months of bed rest. At least I finally learned how to knit. 

5. There are no small wands, only small FGs. It’s not how much magic you have; it’s what you do with it that counts. I once turned a frog into a prince just by asking if he really liked the taste of flies.

6. Expect nothing in return. Don’t even expect to feel good about yourself for helping. People’s propensity for self-sabotage will never cease to surprise you. Frogs’ too. I told him not to lick the princess’ eye but he just said, “Ribbit ribbit ribbit.” 

7. Grant their heart’s desire or nothing. You're not helping otherwise. If you gave Cinderella a hoard of gold she’d just let her step-family spend it all. The best gifts are non-transferable.

8. Magic is neither a toy nor a game. Don’t leave your wand lying around where an infant or toddler can get to it. And never drink and cast. Trust me; the ruptured spleen was nothing. 

9. Animal labor is not free. If you turn lizards into footmen, they charge by the hour. It comes out of your expense account at first, but once you go over your budget it comes out of your pocket. And yes, you have to pay them the same wages to wait around behind the scenes as you do for face time. As a side note, I don’t recommend using lizards for anything unless no other animals are available. They blend into their surroundings so well it’s terribly hard to find them when you need them.

10. It’s not about you. If you’re having fun as an FG, you’re doing it wrong. It’s not about you getting to go to that ball you missed out on when you were younger. Don’t grant what you would want. Grant what your protégé needs. Give what's right to give. From dress cuts to shoe styles. And glass slippers are no longer allowed. They conjure too much expectation. Not to mention the newer ones break all the time. Nothing spoils a budding romance quicker than high-pitched screams and bloody footprints. 

11. Exceptions are the exception. There's always an exception. But they’re called exceptions for a reason. They’re rare. Run your thoughts by a more experienced FG before you get creative, especially in your first hundred years of practice.


The clock striking noon means we’re done for today, so away with you before you turn into pumpkins. Just kidding! I’ll see you all tomorrow when we’ll cover the 12 basic tenets of FG magic and the 13 reasons magical deadlines can’t be negotiated. You’re also in for a treat: a former protégé of mine turned part-time FG will give a presentation and answer your questions. Hint: Her name sounds a bit like “mozzarella.”

Which reminds me, did I mention the dinner party Friday at 7:00? Feel free to bring your favorite cheese, as long as you bring enough for everyone!

Jude Tulli lives in the Sonoran Desert with his beloved wife and a small pride of cats. His fairy tale inspired works have appeared in Enchanted Conversation and Timeless Tales.

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