Earlier today, as I was cleaning out a cupboard, making yet another pile for Goodwill, Adelaide looked around and dropped this bomb: "You know, what we need to get rid of are a whole bunch of these books."
I don't really recall what my response to this was, exactly. There was definitely sputtering. Indignation in spades. My arms may have cartwheeled around my body as my psyche received this unexpected blow.
I eventually collected and calmed myself enough to bellow, "WHAT DO YOU MEAN, 'WE NEED TO GET RID OF THESE BOOKS?' I realize that parenting styles are more difficult to categorize than most self-help books would have you believe, but I'm quite sure my own could easily be defined as "Grace under pressure." Obviously.
After that I yelled a few more things, Adelaide rolled her eyes, I gesticulated wildly at a Jane Austen here, a Jane Austen there, Daughter asked, "Is that the monkey lady?" I snaked my fingers into my hair and tugged, hard, and through my teeth informed her that "You're thinking of Jane Goodall, DARLING." Then I got a grip and plucked a book off the shelf, placing it in her heathen hands.
By pure happenstance the title I had handed her was Etiquette Every Child Should Know. I've talked about it before, but this was Adelaide's first foray into the world of 1930's expected manners, and she proceeded to spend the following hour reading me the parts she found most entertaining:
"'There's the napkin, which has definite rules for furling and unfurling, and which is a necessity, not a stumbling block.'"
"'In using the napkin, do not scrub your lips with it but touch it lightly to your lips. Always use the napkin in this way before taking a drink from a glass.'"
"'Sad experience on trains makes one realize that the great mass of American travelers are constitutionally opposed to fresh air.'"
She derived such enjoyment from this random book I assumed she had realized the error of her ways and repented, but when I asked, "So, Adelaide: Did Etiquette Every Child Should Know change your mind? Do you see now why we have all these books, do you see that each one contains something useful and interesting?" her sad reply was "Not really," at which point I attempted to wrestle her into the Goodwill pile, because priorities: I have them.