Wednesday, February 15, 2012

...If Children are the Future, We're Doomed...

Perhaps you’ve heard about a recent study that found some parents would not read classic fairy tales to their children because they believed the stories to be “scary” or “outdated” or they feared the kids might “ask awkward questions.”

Oh, that's a good idea. Dumb down the kids so you're always a step ahead. Is that the plan? Fairy tales are probably one of the last harmless things around for kids.

I once fell asleep on the living room floor listening to one of my favorite LPs, a collection of bedtime stories that included “Jack and the Beanstalk.” When I woke up I was afraid to move because the room was dark and I wasn’t sure where the hole in the floor was that had to have been left behind by the giant falling to earth.

I moved.

And I’m alive. I made it. It’s okay. It turns out of all the things I have witnessed that have scarred me for life, fairy tales were involved in none of those events. One involved nudity, another had an undercooked egg, then there was a crochet potholder, a tutu, and a glow in the dark Wacky Wall Walker, and two separate incidents involving Fudgecicles, but no fairy tales. (FYI, never ever give a cat a Fudgecicle.)

Way (way, way) back in the day, so-called children’s books were meant for
adults. Some were only meant for the wealthy. And there was those children’s stories that were meant to teach kids a lesson and prepare them for life’s hardships. This was during the earliest years of kid lit when it wasn’t uncommon for children to be injured by wild farm equipment or killed by some sort of plague.

If the Disney stories set you on edge, check out the original versions of the Grimm fairy tales.

You will poop your pants.

You have to read to your children every chance you get. Even babies love a good book. You’ll grow a smarter, happier kid if they can read.

One of the best things about childhood besides endless energy is the boundless imagination, and reading can help spark that as much as art or music.

Don’t deprive your kids of that just because you don’t want to answer some awkward questions.

And for those that say something along the opposite lines with fairy tales setting up unrealistic expectations, etc, etc, please be reminded that this is your perspective. Don’t let your shady thinking cloud your child’s wide-as-the-sky mind.

Read them the stories.

If they become afraid, give them comfort and take it as an opportunity to show them how to face their fears.

If they have questions, answer them. Or ask them questions back so they can develop critical independent thinking skills.

If something seems outdated, make it a history lesson. Talk to them about how things were, how they are now, and ask them how they think things will be someday. Encourage them and remind them of their role in their future.

Now is the time to raise them to be the sort of person you want to be responsible for you in your golden years.

The world is already too full of people whose parents didn’t bother.

And now, a short list of people who parents probably didn’t read to them when they were wee little ones.
  • Anyone who tweeted “Who’s Paul McCartney?” during the Grammys on Sunday.
Even if you aren’t a Beatles fan, their mark on music and their place in history should be common knowledge.
  • Anyone who starts a sentence with, “This is before my time but…”
This statement can also be replaced with, “I’m only [age here] but I love…” Your age shouldn’t be a limitation on what you know. If you grow by experience instead of years, you will go so much further in life.
  • Anyone who owes nearly a million dollars  to a jeweler, can’t pay the bill, has (or had) hundreds of millions of dollars and can’t explain where their money disappeared to.
If you honestly don’t know where the money went, I will refer you back to the start of the statement: Anyone who owes nearly a million dollars to a jeweler.
  • Anyone who saw pictures of the little cutie pie Blue Ivy Carter  and said, “she doesn’t look like either parent,” “she has straight white people hair” and/or “nice baby wig,” “her skin is lighter than both her parents,” and “no one looks like that after they have a baby,” “she doesn’t even have ‘mom boobs’,” or “newborns don’t look like that.”
These comments may or may not be coming from people whose parents despised them so much that they wouldn’t spend ten minutes reading to them, but I'm guessing that a lot of them are just white people.

Ignorant white people whose parents probably didn’t give them $10 for the annual school book fair --which in the 80s bought a lot of books-- but nonetheless…I will be your “ask a black friend” today.

Almost all black babies are born with some hair on their head. I’ve seen newborns with enough to style and braid if you wanted to torture them like that. As for the texture, it can change. If it doesn’t, that’s okay too because black people have a lot of variety with that. Heck, I’ve got hair on my own head that won’t curl and strands that spring from mid-back length when straight and dry to up to my ears when curly and wet. I’m sorry to disappoint you but we don’t all have hair like those bad afro wigs you see in costume stores. In fact
I’ve never seen anyone with hair like that so…

And while we’re on the subject what is “white people hair”? Visit some naturally curly website and forums. There’s all kinds of white people on there with hair that shrinks up tighter than mine.

As for the skin, in short, don’t be stupid.

No one looks at Becky and Todd sideways when Becky pops out a PINK baby. I’m darker than the day I was born, browner than my mom and never caught up to my dad. Again, that’s the beauty of brown. We do that.  I had a cousin looked like the prettiest Asian baby when she was born. Today she looks like Wesley Snipes in that To Wong Foo movie.

Anyone saying she doesn’t really look like either of her parents must not be looking at the same pictures I saw. She looked like someone photoshopped a shrunken Beyonce head onto a baby’s body.

Finally, the whole thing about women don’t look like that, and the “mom boobs” and babies don’t look like that right after their born, I will remind you 1) you are still not Beyonce and 2) that your experience is not the rule, it’s just your experience.

I saw a newborn push up on her knees and elbows. And three other people witnessed it which is good because I seriously thought I was crazy. Just because most newborns just lay around and pass gas doesn’t mean this one kid didn’t try to do an army crawl the same day she was born.

What you’re really saying to the world when you those types of comments is that you had an ugly baby and not only were you hideous after you gave birth, but you could sling your boobs over your shoulders and then tuck them under your arms.

And that’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with that aside from making you look bad because jealousy is not attractive, but I respect your right to express an opinion.

Plus, it proves my original point: You have to make sure you take some time to read to your ugly baby.
Since they won’t be getting by on their looks, they’re going to need to be smart.

Zo! f/ Phonte – Greater than the Sun

Harry Connick Jr – All of These Things

Freedy Johnston – Trying to Tell You That I Don’t Know

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