Helping You Get the Most Out of Your Misery






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Monday, April 18, 2011


Making an Effort to Not Warp My Child's Brain

I can be a cynical bastard. I really can. But there's really no place for cynicism when you are reading books to your kid.

When your kid comes running up to you with some book you can't stand and insists--insists!--that you read it, there's no good choice but to do your best to put out of your head how much you despise the goddamn thing and try to make it pleasant for all involved.

'Cause, if you sit there and act snide or snarky, you're taking the joy out of the experience for your kid.

Let me give you an example.

I love Richard Scarry. I bought my kid the big-ass compendium of Richard Scarry's stuff a couple years back--the same one I had as a kid, minus the one story where the Yukon bear takes his kid out and they hunt baby seals (not a joke)--and he loves it, too.

Now, some of the writing in the book is not top notch. There's a story called "Polite Elephant." It's meant to begin teaching kids manners, which is important if you don't want your child whipping it out in public and pissing on someone's shoes.

When I first read the story after not seeing it for thirty years or so, Polite Elephant came off kind of like a serial killer. "Polite Elephant knows that some rooms are for sitting...and others are for playing." "Polite Elephant is very careful when he plays with someone else's toys." And, when you think about the story in that light, it's goddamn hilarious.

But my kid really likes the story. And I can't read it multiple times every week making fun of it. So, I have learned to put my damaged brain aside and just be sincere when I'm reading. I think we're all better off for it.

Still, I am occasionally tempted to have Papa Bear tell Goldilocks to "...get the fuck out of our house, bitch."