Saturday, January 28, 2012

Do you know what your children are being exposed to?

I am such a liarface. I say in my last post that my next one should be coming up soon, and here it is...a week later (almost exactly. Prize for me!). Though if you were expecting me to actually do it soon, you're probably going to be repeatedly disappointed by my posting speed. My awareness of time is kind of nonexistent in any kind of accurate or consistent way.

As I hope most of you are totally unaware (Because it would be weird if you, anonymous readers, were aware of my daily life...Even though my only followers know me in real life.), I spend my Tuesday mornings around small children. Around ten of them. The ages range between five years and about six months old, and it's basically my only, pitiful source of income right now.

So the answer to my title would really be me and my brother, which should strike fear into the heart of any parent, but that's not actually my point.

In any case, one of the things I do to occupy the hours with these tiny monsters is read to them. Mostly we just let them run wild in the nursery (within reason), but periodically one of us will stack two or three in our laps and read to a handful of them, and you know what I noticed? Children's books are terrifying and ridiculous. And I'm not just talking about the illustrations in some of them.

One of the recent favorites:

What's crazy is that I remember liking The Poky Little Puppy as a wee littlun.

I know. I'm old.

For those of you who spent your formative years in a hole, it's the repetitive story of rebellious puppies that sneak out during the day and then get denied dessert as punishment for their exploits.

Where is their mother, by the way? Is she nocturnal?? The only mentions of her appear when they've returned from gallivanting over "the wide, wide world" to be fed. Who is supposed to be taking care of these beasties during the day?

So the titular character: He is dubbed the Poky Little Puppy because when the puppies dig under the fence to run around in the wide world (which is code for down the road, across the field, and halfway up a hill), he lags behind to use one of his five senses (scent, sight, and hearing) to discover what dessert is going to be, at which point they all race home to be chastised.

Great message, right? You disobey your parents, and they won't love you until you behave. Or something like that.

Here's the thing, though: The Poky Little Puppy gets ALL the dessert two out of three times. He lags behind and lets his siblings get punished, and then sneaks home like the little douche he apparently is, and scarfs down all of the dessert that the others were denied. The only time that he doesn't get rewarded is when the other puppies suck up and fill in the hole under the fence on their own, and their mother decides they must have learned this time, so she rewards them.

Since when do people (or humanized animals) get rewarded for doing what they're supposed to be in the first place? I find that wildly unfair. No one rewarded me for rectifying my insubordinate mistakes as a child.

This is also another strike against their mother. She's clearly unfit. How do you not notice that one of your offspring is missing? Seriously. There's only five of them. It's not that difficult. My mom kept track of seven of us, and we were all usually running around screaming in about ten different directions. This creature is idiotically neglectful.

The only real message I get out of that book is that you need to be smart about how frequently you try to get away with things. Two of the three times, he succeeded in quadrupling his portion of deliciousness. Once, he ended up getting nothing. What does this teach kids? It's all about the risk versus the benefit. What was the cost there?

And what the deuce was he doing the whole time between telling his siblings about dessert and coming home? For being the main character of this story, he's got a lot of time totally unaccounted for. I feel like that's just weak story telling.

You wrote a bad story, Petey! >.<

Everyone should watch The Fantastic Mr. Fox. Because that was a reference to it, and you're deprived if you didn't catch that.

I think I'm going to start calling everyone Petey when I ridicule them. Not to be confused with Pete or Peter, because I love Spiderman and my brother-in-law.

Speaking of Spiderman, holy crap, The Amazing Spiderman is going to be freaking awesome o.o

The other book I wanted to talk about is C is for Clown.

The main merit of this book is the entertainment value of tongue twisters. Assuming you like that kind of thing. (I do, though "Irish wristwatch" still boggles my mind after two or three time. So does "red leather, yellow leather" on some occasions. Seriously. Say those to yourself five or six times. It's ridiculous.)

Tim and I both found this book kind of depressing. I think it's about as nihilistic as it's acceptable to be without grownups noticing.

You've got Clarence Clown being steadily piled under a bunch of things starting with C, and it starts out pretty reasonable, but just gets steadily more impossible. It's always phrased as a question followed by a simple, declarative sentence.

"Can Clarence Clown catch cats carrying canes?"

"Clarence Clown catches cats carrying canes."

Easy to read, easy to understand. Good, yes?

The thing is that it gets ridiculous. The poor clown ends up balancing cats carrying canes, collies carrying clubs, cows carrying cakes with lit candles, and because that's simply not cool enough for the sadistic little beasts that consume these books, they throw in Caroline Catfish, who looks like a pink whale with whiskers. But Clarence is freaking awesome, and he catches the fat lard. He sits there wobbling and looking pained for a second before the demon author (I suspect the little red bear, mouse, ringmaster thing. What a dick.) decides that's not enough to make his point, and he throws in Clara Canary.

"Can Clarence Clown carry cats carrying canes and collies carrying clubs and cows carrying cakes and candles and Caroline Catfish and...

Clara Canary?

CRASH! *clubs, canes, and bits of cake fly all over the page*

No. Clarence Clown can't."

Really, guys?  You can't just be impressed that this bear thing has super powers? It's necessary to crush him? Have a little restraint! Not everything needs to be forced to it's full capacity for your gratification.

And now I've lost steam to rant, and I'm sure you've lost the motivation to read any more. This has ended up being kind of long for me. So you go do something other than read my rambles (like comment, or something), and I'll go rummage through the fridge for something both edible and appetizing.

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