There's A Reason for Cardinal Rules ...
I broke my cardinal rule.
Well, it’s actually my aunt’s cardinal rule. I’m still a cardinal rule-in-training kind of
The rule? Always read
a children’s book before you buy it.
Seems simple, right?
The plots? Short. The pictures?
Pretty. The morality? Clear.
I can do this!
The other day, I go to a local book store to buy my second
son a present for his third birthday.
The discount table has great deals. I pick out a tug boat book ($2.99!), some stickers
for goodie bags (Power Rangers or Pooh?), a nature paw print guide (let’s not
see the bear!) and more stickers (Ahhh, heck, I’ll get both).
I walk to the register, swatting the baby’s hands away from
my credit card, my keys, my eyes and my hair, and see a sign recommending a
children’s dinosaur book that is “hilarious!” and “fun read for parents, too!”
Giddyup. My sons love dinosaurs and,
well, honestly, Brother and Sister Bear are starting to annoy me.
I buy the book, and after a birthday party extravaganza ala
Britney Spears (as in “I’m-not-going-to-throw-a-big-obnoxious-party-oops-I-did-it-again-I-threw-a-big-obnoxious-party”),
the kids and I settle on the couch with the dinosaur book.
It starts out with happy vegetarian dinosaurs wading in a
prehistoric swamp. But, wait! (cue evil
music) mean, meat-eating T-Rexes enter stage right. They shout “up with hunting!” and “up with
war!” There are pictures of dead bones.
I shift uncomfortably.
My kids sit silently, wide-eyed and bite their lips.
It gets worse. A veggie
dinosaur egg rolls into the T-Rex’s nest.
When he hatches, the T-Rexes reject the baby because he looks “weedy and
weak.” They call him silly and name him
“Drip.” They declare him “not fierce
enough” and --gasp--leave him alone while they go hunting.
Drip cries “This doesn’t feel like home. I’m going to run away!” He finds his way back to the veggie dinosaurs
and discovers that he is one of THEM.
Meanwhile, back in evilville, the terrible T-Rexes try to
cross a bridge to eat Drip and the other veggie dinos. In the end, Drip is the hero because he tells
T-Rexes that their reflections are scary monsters, which causes them to fall into
the water and float away.
Ugh. I close the book
quickly and look at my four children under the age of five.
Three biological. One
adopted. Three white-skinned. One brown-skinned. Three grew in my belly. One grew in my heart.
You must look similar
to be a family? You must look similar to feel “at home?”
I never want my nineteen month old Guatemalan born daughter,
or any of my other children for that matter, to feel those feelings or think
Contrary to the book’s message, I believe there is room in a family for difference. I am living it.
The dinosaur book has mysteriously disappeared from our
shelves. I also called the store to
voice my objection to the book.
“As an adoptive family,” I said, “I didn’t find your
recommended book ‘Hilarious!’ or a ‘Fun read!’ Rather, it conveys the upsetting message that
you must share similar physical traits in order to be connected.”
The manager listened politely, but I have a feeling that,
once I hung up, she probably called me overly sensitive or overly uptight.
That’s okay. Because,
later on, I called my aunt and told her that she was right.
Always read a children’s book before you buy it.