Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Best List Ever

That was a lie.  This is going to be perfectly average list.  Perhaps even lower than average, as Atticus is sitting next to me in our rocking chair, peppering me with questions while I type ("How do your fingers know where the letters are without even looking?  How can you read so fast?  I know what S-T-O-P spells, do you?  When are you going to be done so I'm allowed to talk again?").

  • It is 28 degrees outside right now, and the "Real Feel" (factoring in windchill and what not) is 20 degrees.  This is as warm as it's going to get today.  I know that in a couple months I'll look back and berate my pansy-November self ("That's almost above freezing- how can you complain about that?"), but at this point it feels pretty freaking cold.  This happens every year; I'm somehow shocked that cold is just so cold, I insist on running from the house to the car and back again (which perhaps helps explain the inverse relationship that exists between the number of injuries I sustain on a regular basis and the temperature outside- I also don't actually run; it's more of a mincing kind of jog that I'm sure is a beauty to behold), and I do things like shove the kids out of the van when dropping them off so I can shut the door and sustain the tropical environment I have created inside.  

In it, a mother of a five-year-old explains that as she's been reading the first Harry Potter book aloud to her son, she's been childproofing it: making sure the characters are receiving proper punishment for wrong-doings, editing the scary parts, deciding that for her son, Voldemort wasn't going to try to kill Harry; he was just going to try and hurt him a little bit. 

I hear about this every day: parents trying to cushion and soften every tiny piece of their children's lives, making it as rosy and dishonest and just plain boring as a Christian romance novel.  It's a very short-sighted parenting strategy, because one day those little darlings- the ones who have had every twist and bump in the road straightened and smoothed over by their well-meaning parents- are going to be unleashed onto society, and you know what they're going to find?  The Real World.  The one where people die and senseless acts of cruelty abound and VOLDEMORT TRIES TO MURDER HARRY POTTER WHAT IS EVEN WRONG WITH YOU.

Believe it or not, this is my majorly scaled back reaction to this little article; when I first read it, I may or may not have dug my fingernails into my cheeks in abject frustration.  And lost it.  And died a little inside.  Keep in mind I was raised on classics like The Little Match Girl (still one of my favorites) and at no point did any of the adults in my life try to tell me that "No, see, she's just sleeping, there aren't really things like cruel fathers and dead mothers and little girls freezing to death in this world!"  To do so would have minimized that story's powerful message: one of compassion and charity and eternity and the significance of every human life.  

I also realize this woman has a five-year-old son.  I was a bit more protective when Adelaide was five, but then she got older and the children kept piling on and I learned to let things go, like making every meal perfectly balanced and bathing them every day and Doing Everything Just Right. 

And now I'm going to let this go.  (On the blog.  Don't kid yourself- I'm going to torture myself with this for weeks.  Milquetoast Children of America, BEGONE!)

  • This has been kind of a whiney, ranty post, hasn't it?  I'll finish on a positive note:  Almost daily Atticus has been cutting out little squares of paper and coloring them purple, then giving them to me so that "you'll always have your favorite color right in your pocket."


  1. COLD: I know. I had to wear shoes. . .AND SOCKS!!! :(
    REAL WORLD: ugh. Harry Potter, of course, is not the real world. The real world is worse. I wish I could protect my children from the inevitable heartbreak of the real world, but alas, it is not meant to be.
    PURPLE: also my favorite color

  2. Your son's questions as you type - that might just be the best list ever.

    That mother will have a tough time if her child becomes a reader - she will not be able to keep up with the censoring task. And she misses the point that BECAUSE Harry Potter is not the real world, it has already cushioned the blow of the murder and violence. The tension of the unpunished wrong-doing in the book is one of the ways we learn compassion for real life. A better way to protect her children is to not let them watch TV news. But okay, the astute writer and the astute readers of this blog already knew all that.

    Your list item about the purple squares of paper gives me great hope for the world. I am going to be happier all day just thinking about that.

  3. Whoa, spoiler alert on "The Little Match Girl" huh? Guess I'll have to read something else tonight...

  4. Maybe an easier way for that parent to deal with Harry Potter would be to wait until her child is the appropriate age for the book?! It wasn't written for 5-year old kids. Gah.

    I have to confess here, that I had a lot of trouble reading Junie B. Jones to my daughter because of how she murdered the English language. I just could not read that bad grammar aloud.


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