Tl;dr ahead. You have been warned.
When one’s future is uncertain and out of one’s control, one tends to consider the past for clues as to how one ended up at this juncture.
Also, when one goes to a humiliatingly horrible chick flick whereby the main gal inherits a kid, whatever, you think about what you might do. Like how in God’s name do you raise a kid? Surely it’s neigh impossible. (And still no licensing requirements? Curious.)
How on earth did my parents do it?
The juxtaposition of yes/Fame no/Little House has been delved, but I’m realizing there are a grip more of these seemingly nonsensical fly/no-flies in their parenting protocol.
- Clifford the Big Red Dog.
- Curious George.
- Where the Wild Things Are.
- Unlimited Roald Dahl.
- Shel Silverstein for Days.
- Unremarked upon access to a stack of Danielle Steels and James Herriots.
Seemingly the stuff that was kept from me is the cleaner, safer, more iconic childhood fodder. What kid on the planet didn’t read Curious George? This one. “He’s naughty and the stories are dumb.” Okay, fair. The Red Dog was also deemed too stupid to page turn. And Max? Well, Max was a terrible influence.
And yet. The first chapter book I read alone was The Best Christmas Pageant Ever with the horrible Herdmans who lie, steal, and smoke cigars. Here’s where the a-ha sneaks in: the Herdmans were clever about it. And Roald Dahl, oof. Have you read “Boy”? That is no kids book. But it’s dark and rough and true. And I read it when I was eight.* Shel Silverstein too. The themes there are adult, merely masquerading as juvenalia.
So while it seems I was raised in the strictest fashion (and I kind of was, I grounded myself before the parents would have a chance) my brain was allowed the freedom to be more adult. Not talked down to. Allowed to tackle things more challenging than a man in a yellow hat.
The lasting legacy of this childhood by the bookshelves? Now I want my own BFG**, not my own Big Red Dog.
And I’m a better adult for it.
*I also wasn’t allowed a Ken Doll until I was eight with good reason, because duh. He promptly hopped into Barbie’s Dream [twin] Bed. See? There’s your Danielle Steel training for ya.
**I swear to bejeezus, if they try to make that book a movie, I will burn everything down. Please. I’m begging. Let some books stay books.