Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Read me the one about the monkey in peril again Mom

Gabriel came home from preschool today quite concerned. As part of their unit on dinosaurs, his class had watched Land Before Time (and while I could dedicate this post to the “HUH? Why are they spending time watching a movie in preschool when as far as I’m concerned the purpose of preschool is to assuage my guilt for not doing enough crafts and singing cute songs with my son and not for them to put in a video which is something I could do perfectly well at home and pocket the $55 a month” question, that is not actually where I’m headed here).

Gabriel was somewhat traumatized by the scene where Littlefoot’s mother is killed by a Tyrannosaurus Rex. “Why did the T-rex have to be so mean?” he kept asking me. No manner of “It’s just a movie” or “That’s the way of nature” logic seemed to smooth the ruffles in his little empathetic heart. He finally swore his eternal hatred of all T-rexes EVER and has since moved on to other things. But I’m still thinking about the movie, and I’ve decided that it fits on my growing list of children’s things that are not appropriate for children. Scary carnivores who eat people’s mothers = bad.

We bought Gabriel this Little Encyclopedia of Animals because it had a big picture of a panda on the cover and Gabriel is, well, there’s no word strong enough to describe his adoration of pandas. We were all somewhat disappointed when an immediate search of the book yielded only one small picture of a panda, but Gabriel sat right down and insisted I read him the caption....

What??? Let’s just say I wish the fool editors of this book could have seen the horrified look on Gabriel’s face. Don’t these people have kids?

Topping my list of stories inappropriate for children are the books (and we own every one) about that ever inquisitive monkey Curious George. Why my children, without fail, have each gone through a period of George worship I do not know. Because when you really stop to examine the stories, they are more than a little bit disturbing.

Observe: indigenous baby animal is kidnapped from his native Africa and shipped to America where he is adopted by Madonna a nameless yellow-hatted man who then puts him behind bars in a zoo. So far so good. Then George is left unsupervised on numerous occasions and when he manages to flood the house, swallow puzzle pieces, or break his leg while falling from a fire escape, he is “rescued” by the absentee parent and called a naughty little monkey.

Just look at all the useful lessons my children have learned from George:

Smoking a pipe can be a relaxing evening activity.

Caustic household chemicals make for colorful indoor puddles.

As long as you have a squeegee and a bucket tied to your waist, it’s okay to dangle outside the windows of a 20 story building.

Lifejackets are for sissies.

You won’t get electrocuted if you walk fast enough.

And last but not least, if you find a strange bottle, be sure to pull off the cork and take a good whiff so you can have happy thoughts and see dancing stars before you pass out.


meno said...

It seems that we all can learn something from Curious George.
That was wonderful.
The ether picture is a hoot. Bet that wouldn't make it past an editor any more.

Julie Q. said...

Yup. I think today's editors would have a fit with old C. George. They also might notice the fact that all the doctors are male and all the nurses are female. Hmmmmm.

Scribbit said...

My kids have always disliked C.G, the fact that he does so many "bad" things and never gets punished grates on them. Probably because they know what would happen to them if they did that stuff. I love the way I keep them in fear. :)

Anonymous said...

ROFL!! We loved the Curious George books, and had some fun with them. For example, when E was about 2 we read the paper route one, where Geo makes all the newspapers into boats and every morning after that it was a race between me and him for the morning paper. If he won, he would throw the whole thing merrily into the tub. And what about the one where Geo spills ink all over? We recreated that one with vanilla! At least the kitchen smelled nice.

Anonymous said...

Very funny in a sad kind of way. I remember my kids watching a Scooby-Do episode where Shaggy picked a hamburger up from the street and started eating it. UGH!

Came here from Wooden Porch :)

LaughingElk said...

Important lessons I learned from children's books:

Don't be curious, it will only get you into trouble.
(Curious George)

It's exciting to let strangers into your house while your mother is out.
(The Cat in the Hat)

If your lessons are boring, try eating mushrooms and drinking from strange bottles.
(Alice in Wonderland)

It doesn't hurt when something big falls and squashes you.
(Flat Stanley)

A corporation suffering a downturn from competition can return to profitability by downsizing its domestic workforce and bringing in cheap overseas labor.
(Charlie and the Chocolate Factory)

Adults must wear clothing, but it's okay for kids to run around naked.
(Little Bear)

Running away from home is fun!
(From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, The Boxcar Children, Toby Tyler, My Side of the Mountain)

If you don't eat your soup, you will die.
If you make fun of poor little black kids, St. Nicholas will dunk you in a big bottle of ink.
If you suck your thumbs, a tailor will come and cut them off with giant scissors.
(Der Struwwelpeter. If you've never seen this classic German children's book, check out
http://www.fln.vcu.edu/struwwel/vorwort_dual.html Yes, my father actually read this book to me as a child. In German.)

How did I ever survive my childhood? Why didn't I end up a deranged maniac after being exposed to Roald Dahl, Maurice Sendak and (yikes!) Lewis Carroll?

Maybe kids are smarter and more resilient than we give them credit for.

Julie Q. said...

You are awesome. You're the only person I know who does research before commenting on my blog.

Milehimama @ Mama Says said...

Yeah, and a big thanks to Woody and Disney for teaching my 3 yr. old how to light a match, too!

Anonymous said...

I'm late to the party here, but I noticed all of this the first time I bought a copy of CG to read to my oldest DD a few years ago. By the end of the story, my mom and I were laughing so hard at much of what you pointed out here that we were crying. I just couldn't get past the way it was "OK" for the man in the yellow hat to steal a monkey and sell him to the zoo. I don't know what I saw in these books as a kid, but they sure make me laugh now.

Lana said...

and I am glad that I am not the only one who thinks video's don't belong in preschool.