Wednesday, March 17, 2010
I read the dumbest book yesterday.
(No, it wasn’t Twilight.)
It’s a children’s book called I Know I Am Special! A Story About Ridicule and Self-Esteem by somebody called Connie S. Owens. I stumbled upon this jewel at the pediatrician’s office, while waiting for what seemed like an eternity for a doctor to take an in-depth look into the ear canals of both of my daughters and give us either a yay or a nay depending on the effectiveness of the antibiotics they had been taking for the last ten days. Luckily it was yays all around, but anyway, I digress.
So, while we were waiting, Midget started bringing every book in sight to me so that I could enrich her life by reading them to her. (Munchkin was playing with a toy truck and couldn’t be bothered by such trivial things such as an impromptu story time). After some adorable rhymes, an Arthur book about fire drills, and a nice little Dr. Seuss number, she brings over I Know I Am Special! and I can’t help but to raise my eyebrows as I look at the cover. I’m thinking that a story about self-esteem might be a good thing to read to her, since she’s in school now and kids can be nasty little buggers, and this book might broach the subject in a more child-friendly way than my overly (?) blunt declarations of “Not everyone is going to like you, kid.”
And then began the fuckery!
The story is about a little boy named Chris, who likes to play the piano, draw pictures for his friends when they are sick, and asks God to take care of everyone he cares about each night at bedtime. One summer, Chris decides to join the softball team, and during his first game, he fails to swing the bat and gets clocked in the mouth by the ball. His coach, being an amazing human being, sees the kid bleeding and crying and begins to make fun of him. Constantly.
Now, here’s what gets me: Little Chris’ parents are sitting in the bleachers watching this son of a bitch talk shit to their kid. So, what do they do? They lament that there’s nothing they can do and don’t say a word. Then, later on in the story, they even tell Chris that if the teasing is too much for him, then it’s okay for him to quit the team (but he doesn’t).
What the hell kind of parents would just SIT THERE and let an authority figure talk shit to their injured child?! What the shit is this??!!
Later in the story, when the other kids start teasing Chris because he sucks at softball, his mom sits him down and is all, “God gave you other talents, honey, so you tell those mean kids!” I’m totally paraphrasing here, by the way. So when Chris gets teased by some brat, his comeback is to say, “Well, God made me good at playing the piano!” Then the other boy is like, “Cool!” and they all live happily ever after or something.
So, look. In reality, if some kid was being picked on for sucking at something and his snappy retort was that God made him good at something totally unrelated, the antogonist would probably call him a homo and kick him in the nuts. Also in reality, if a child was being picked on by their little league coach, or a teacher, or any other authority figure, his or her parents would call whoever is in charge, along with a local news station, and maybe a lawyer. In reality, this type of shit would not fly.
And now I am wondering what the hell sort of message this book is sending. The parents not taking any sort of action against this horrible coach is pretty ridiculous; them telling their son that it’s okay to quit the team because he’s being made fun of (for getting hit in the face) is downright appalling. I mean, how is that okay by any stretch of the imagination?? If Midget were ever in a situation like this, I would A) punch the coach in the face for being an asshole and then immediately launch a complaint against whoever I had to (after finding a way to dodge arrest and possible prosecution for assault), and B) I would tell her (Midget) to give everyone who had something bad to say the finger and rock that softball shit.
But maybe that’s just me.
In the end, I didn’t even finish reading the book to Midget. Instead, I looked her straight in the eye and told her that being teased is a part of life, but it doesn’t give her an excuse to just crawl into a ball and do nothing, and if an adult ever says mean things to her, she is to tell myself or her father immediately.
Then I told her that she is to flip off everyone in sight and rock some shit.