Monday, April 30, 2007

Reading Lists

I took my kid to the dentist Friday (you'll remember my kid has the Born-Again Christian Dentist who we love to pieces and who we have bonded so totally with and who doesn't know that we're, like, utter evil humanist socialist scum yet) and the hygenist is delighted to see the kid again and the kid is rattling on at her, telling her about everything she's been doing and everything she's been reading, a reading list sixty books long, and I'm biting my lip hoping nothing appalling will come out, trying to remember just what the kid has been reading lately, and the hygenist recommends a book her son has just read, Where the Red Fern Grows, saying the kid will like it if she likes books about dogs (the kid has been talking about Cynthia Voigt's new book, Angus and I forget what) which leads the kid to look over at me and ask can she read that one?

"Oh," says the hygenist respectfully. "Do you look through her books?"

Meaning, do I make certain her books are "acceptable" before I let her read them.

I smile. "No," I explain, "she means does it end well. She can't take books about dogs where the dogs die. No, we let her read what she wants to read."

Which we always pretty much have. This was always my mother's policy, and it is mine, too: if the kid wants to read it, she can read it. This led to her struggling through about 30 pages of The Six Wives of King Henry the VIII last year before she surrendered, annoyed; and it leads to her sitting behind me in the white chair demanding, every 2.5 minutes, that I define words for her -- "What does turbulent mean?" "What is a cracked voice?" "What does it mean when it says he's sinus? Sinimumus? Sin-u-ous?" -- until I threaten to wallop her if she doesn't start using her dictionary. "Why do you think we bought that dictionary? For our HEALTH?"

"It takes to lo-o-ong to look things up in the dictionary!" she complains.

Worse than that, though, Flea, here, warns me of the potential hazards of my the Kid Reads All plan:

which I will admit I had already run into, in a less amusing way, when the kid found me reading Y: The Last Man a few months ago and wanted to read them too. I said she wouldn't like them. She thought she would -- graphic novels! A monkey! Scary! I countered. Violence! Remember how shook up you got by Dr. Who? This is worse!

But she wanted to try. So I gave her one. I had been so distracted by the violence I forgot about the sex -- sex jokes, lesbian sex, sexual references, all of them obtuse, so that they have to be explained to your eight-year-old. Luckily she's totally appalled by sex (S-E-X, as she says it) so mostly I could just say, "That's a joke about S-E-X," and she would go away.

But reading Flea's entry has reminded me that I better go do something about the more, ah, appalling volumes of my gay SF collection. Move it to a higher shelf, maybe?

Though that never worked with me.

1 comment:

Bardiac said...

Tell her they're your VERY favorite books and you really really want her to read them!

(Hey, it worked for me. My Mom had a shelf full of Bobbsey Twin and Nancy Drew books in my room from the moment I was born probably, and I maybe read two of them.)

No, really, I have no advice. Raising kids seems almost impossibly complex!