Is Franklin's turtle mommy a better parent than me?
By amountainmomma on February 01, 2013
Do you think children's books realistically depict parenting? Should they?
The first Franklin book I ever read to my daughter was, “Franklin in the Dark.”
Franklin is afraid of being inside his shell because he is afraid of the dark and sets upon an epic journey. He encounters many a beast, eventually realizing they are all afraid of something too.
He finds a bird who is a afraid of heights, a duck who is afraid of water, a lion who is afraid of loud noises, and a polar bear is afraid to be cold. Apparently he traveled quite extensively on this trip. To the North Pole at the very least.
He was gone for hours.
When he finally decides to come home, his mother merely states she was scared because she could not find him.
He is not grounded for going to the North Pole without permission.
She does not yell at him for leaving town without telling her.
He does not talk back, or tell her to leave him alone, or kick her in the leg.
Franklin runs away from home and his mother does not bat an eyelash because obviously he has learned a valuable lesson and all there is left to do is to have some cold flies for dinner and go to bed.
Am I missing something, or is Franklin’s turtle mom a better mom than me?
I have often felt the realities of childrearing are glaringly absent in children's books.
Is it because it is supposed to be an escape from reality?
Does this escape make ourselves and our children perceive our parenting as wanting?
Books for children seem to model every aspect of a child's life, in minutiae, except for poor behaviour by parents and children. Even when a book does deal with a child acting out, the parents are paragons of calmness and clarity.
I am pretty sure I have never seen a fictional parent or caregiver lock themselves in the bathroom.
The parents in the books in my house do not yell or say passive aggressive things about feeling infective or tell their screaming children that they are going to take away all their toys and report their errant behaviour to Santa.
Obviously there is only one explanation: These fictional storybook parents are Body Snatchers. Their souls sucked away and replaced with the placid faces and emotions of the pod people.
Children's authors are slowly stripping away our humanity, our realness, and our depth.
I try to handle most situations as deftly as I can and clench my toes in my shoes instead of yelling while I ask "WHY on earth would you pour nail polish down the drain?!"
Sadly, this level of body snatcher composure is not always possible. I do realize that my children are young and learning and will make mistakes. However, I am still human (for now) and unable to take everything in stride.
I do get mad and lose my temper. But, I have also spent hours carrying my children around the house on my back playing "Bad Kitty" (don't ask...) or have woken at 5 am to make Nimbus 2000's for the children to take to school for literacy week, which they then decide they do not want and leave at home. To mock me...
I think it is important for our children to see that we are human and will not always handle all situations with the greatest of ease. That, we still love them, we are still their parent, and we know how to say sorry.
I often wonder how unrealistic depictions of parenting affect both children and parents. We use books to teach our kids not to be afraid of the dentist, doctor, or the dark. Books that show them what they can be when they grow up, valuable lessons about tending sheep and telling the truth. Books that show them that parents are always even tempered, kind, fair, and in control of their emotions at all times.
How does this affect our children's expectations and perceptions of our behaviour? How does is affect our own perceptions of success as parents?
I wish I could be more like Franklin's mom. She is kind and understanding and can somehow get her child to eat cold flies for dinner. I can't even get mine to eat yummy warm chicken. I suppose it is because her child has been body snatched as well, like most of the children/animals we see in most books. I think our book shelf needs a clearing.
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