Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Read Misery to be Content

Have any of you ever been stuck in the unenviable position of reading children's books to kids? There are, of course, many books out there, but some really get on my nerves. 

For instance: Caillou. The parents are always chuckling, no matter how badly he behaves (which is often), constantly guiding him with patience and soothing platitudes. 

What sort of fantasy is that?!?

Never once does Caillou's mother lose it. Not once does his father raise his voice.

You know what any child would think reading a book like that? "I'm supposed to have parents who never execute consequences to my ratty actions, who never yell, who calmly explain what I do wrong. Simply put, I was gypped."

The secret to having content children is to ensure the books contain adult figures who are (a) just as impatient and stressed as real life parents or (b) much worse.
Lois from Malcolm in the Middle. One scary mother.
That is why, I suppose, that I adore Roald Dahl. Dahl didn't write stories about cheerful, angelic adults; he wrote books about the most rotten caregivers ever. 

Take Matilda. It's enough to make any child throw his arms around his parents and say, "Thank you. Thank you. I'll clean my room. I'll do anything."
The opening of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is straight-up Dahlsleeping in the cupboard beneath the stairs. That is why I secretly suspect the series became such a hit.


Rebecca Mordechai said...

Matilda was my childhood joy. I wish I could see the Broadway show.

Good point about reading books to children with austere adult characters. It definitely puts things in perspective for them!

FrumGeek said...

Calvin and Hobbes has a much more realistic portrayal of parents, I think.

tesyaa said...

Roald Dahl was a nasty SOB, but he wrote great books.

Calvin & Hobbes is awesome. Calvin's parents think like real parents. You can tell the dad wants to have as little to do with Calvin as parentally possible.

FrumGeek said...

Dad does (very) occasionally want to do father-son stuff with Calvin, though whenever that happens he often gives the impression that he wants to relive his youth though Calvin.

Princess Lea said...

RM: I would totally see that on Broadway too! Such great reviews and everything.

FG & Tesyaa: Calvin & Hobbes goes into its own sacred category, a spotlight on a pedestal, if you will. I own every single dog-eared volume.

The Dad wants to relive his nostalgic youth through Calvin. He's big on "building character."

tesyaa said...

Ha, you own dog-eared volumes. We have to replace our worn-out copies every year or two.

Princess Lea said...

My nieces and nephews know better than to mistreat a C&H. After Tanach, it's cannon.