Awesome children’s books

After reading this AP story on gender-biased children’s stories, and after hearing a compelling feminist reading of the Berenstein Bears books at the Southwestern Popular Culture Association conference a few months ago, I’ve redoubled my efforts to find rocking children’s books. (I’ve already posted about how, in our house Ming Lo’s wife has a name, not just “Ming Lo’s wife” and dads appear in stories that are only written about child and mum.)

One new title in our library, after hearing friends’ laments about princess bullshit and distress over the Barbie dilemma, is The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch. The short version? Princess rescues the prince, and when he criticizes the paper bag she had to wear to get there, she heads into the sunset without him.

Between thid princess and finishing Flux, which reminded me that, though Spouse and I negotiated roles before  getting married and before having Peanut, we need to revisit the discussion to readjust the “default” setting of mom doing everything related to anything. So I’m going to hand off all the domestic duties to Spouse (haven’t told him that yet) because I’m trying to raise a feminist, and that can only happen if I do more of my freelance work and less housekeeping. (You may TOTALLY borrow that justification for yourself. It’s genuinely why I’m slacking on housework [starting now; before this I was trying desperately to do a decent job because of social expectations] but intentional transition of work avoids being shirking and will teach the whole family a lesson *only* if Spouse actually picks up the slack.  Otherwise we just become a penicillin experminent gone awry. I’ll keep you posted.)

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Worst parent of the year—-and a large second place tie

I am seriously calling Child Protective Services this time. It’s just wrong the way the Man in the Yellow Hat keeps ignoring George to go off and do something by himself without any sense of how much danger that little creature is really in. So irresponsible. (And rude. Take your hat off when you’re inside, please.) If you keep expecting other people to parent your monkey, buddy, you have another thing coming. (Btw, has anyone called the Animal Protection Institute or the SPCA or something about the fact that this guy has a monkey living with him? Aren’t there laws against holding wild animals hostage to your selfish need for “friends”?)

Last week, our choice for worst parent of the year took George to the fire station and let him slide down the pole…then never went to check on him. Apparently cavorted with the other children for hours while George went off, messed up all the firefighter gear, and rode in the fire engine to a fire.Way beyond letting them play with batteries and matches, man. Choosing the other kids in class i just downright neglect.

This week, The Man in the Yellow Hat (who, as my son points out when we read, is wearing all yellow and should be called the Man in Yellow, and whoever named him is doo-dah) took George to the library and just dropped him off at story time. Would that we all could do that, Mr. Stay at Home and Wear Yellow. The rest of us have to stay and listen and do a little thing we call watching our kids. Man, I’d love to find a library that let us drop kids off for story time. Bad news, though, MiY…you didn’t find one of those. You just left everyone else to do your job. Went off to find his own books, in fact,  while George loaded up a stacks cart and careened down a ramp to a huge crash. The librarian helped George get a library card, which should be a very important moment shared with someone you love, not with some stranger holding an advanced degree in Library Sciences. The A–Hole in Yellow Riding Boots, as I now call him, sauntered in at the end of the story, all happy to see George was ready to go.

Look, dude. If you can’t actually parent that small monkey, teach or control or beat the curiosity out of him, you have no right to be his primary caregiver. There are loving gay couples all over Arkansas who’ve been denied their right to parent and would take  care of that monkey MUCH better than you seem to be willing or able to do. (Kudos, Florida. Now that the Supreme Court has shown it’s illegal to discriminate against gay parents, all the willing families of your state can give children the loving, stable homes they deserve. Too bad George seems to be in a landlocked state.)

And while we’re at it, Charlie and Lola’s mom had better get off her ass to help once in a while. Every time we open one of those books, she’s tasked Charlie with looking after his little sister. That’s not fair to Charlie, lady. He needs his childhood, too. Did you have the first just to babysit the second? Seriously, let’s all look into zero population growth, if the 8 year olds of the world ar going to have to raise the next generation. Please take some interest in your children. For heaven’s sake, they are letting whales go down the drain! Do you know what that does to the plumbing?!?!

I’m just tired of this. I know the moms and dads at the playground read instead of watching their kids, and some of the nannies talk to each other instead of teaching, but these literary parents are terrible examples. Max’s mom sends him to bed without dinner just for calling her a monster? (Then caves later and leaves a hot meal in his bedroom? Mixes me-ssa-ges!) Frances’s father offers to spank her if she doesn’t get back in her bed when she’s scared of the noises in her room? (Never mind that an hour before, when she was scared, her parents gave her cake. Have these people never heard of gentle and consistent? Geeeez!)

Anyway, I’ll process the votes again, but I think the A–hole in Yellow Jackboots wins this round. Doesn’t matter, of course. I still have to read each George book as a cautionary tale—“Oh, look. That seems like fun. But he should really ask, first. Then, if it’s safe, then he can try that. After his mommy or daddy say yes”

“Or the Man in Yellow,” chimes the unwitting parenting neophyte.