I grew up in a small town and folks tended to lean towards the conservative. In fact, the local cable TV station owners were so conservative, they refused to carry MTV as a channel offering. To this day when someone says “do you remember that video?” I have to sadly say I do not.
Anyway, as soon as my girlfriends and I caught wind that a book written by one of our all-time favorite authors, included what we imagined to be a users-guide to teenage sex, we were very interested.
Not surprisingly due to the content of the book, it wasn’t like we could just go get it at the local library or bookstore. This was long before Amazon.com or even the Internet. Someone was going to have to ask their parents to drive to a book store at the closest mall (which was about 45 minutes away) and purchase the book for them. No one was brave enough to ask.
But our luck turned around come the holiday break. Our friend Mary Lynne’s mother actually BOUGHT THE BOOK FOR HER! Mary Lynne of course, brought the book to school and read that shit proudly in study hall.
Well, read it proudly until one of the teachers noticed what she was reading. This earned poor Mary Lynne a trip to the office and a phone call to her Mother. . .Where I picture her Mother calmly taking a drag on a cigarette and exhaling blue smokey curly cues while she answered, “I’m aware she’s reading Forever. I bought it for her myself.” So bad ass!
Mary Lynne finished the book in the privacy of her own bad-ass home. And she happily loaned out the book to countless others 8th Grade girls who did the same, myself included.
However, the entire experience left quite an impression upon me. I was already forming a rebellious (or possibly just a liberal?) agenda in my head and as far as I was concerned telling someone what they could or could not read was bullshit. Furthermore, attempting to restrict access to ideas or knowledge simply because you didn’t agree with said ideas or knowledge just seemed wrong. . .even to my 8th grade hair product, Benetton, and Bugle Boy obsessed brain.
I promised myself then and there, if I ever had children, I wouldn’t ever tell them what to think, what to read, what to write. . .They could decide for themselves.
Except now I have a kid. With books. And I’m banning them left and right:
1. The Saggy Baggy Elephant – BANNED! Because Kid insists I read the first page over and over again while he runs through the house screaming “One Two Three, Kick!”
2. Caps for Sale – BANNED! Because Kid will only allow a reading of the three pages dealing with the peddler arguing with the monkeys, screaming Tsz, Tsz, Tsz repeatedly.
3. Fox in Socks – BANNED! Because Kid insists I read the book in a funny voice I created one night while I was drinking and doing that voice for the duration of the book in the absence of alcohol makes my throat hurt.
4. The Giving Tree & Love You Forever – BANNED! Because they make me cry.
5. Elmo’s Walk in the Woods – BANNED! Because this book contains little lift up flaps and Mac tore one off. It was lost before I could repair it and now every time we get to that particular page he pitches a fit and pulls at the thing like it’s a nasty hangnail.
6. It’s Potty Time and You’re My Little Love Bug – BANNED! Because these books talk and their infuriating teensy little batteries are dying, making them unreliable and thus infuriating to the Kid.
7. I’m Just a Little Meerkat – BANNED! Because I can’t decide if it’s supposed to rhyme or not. . .The rhythm is funky and it bothers me to no end.
8. The Eric Carle What Do You See? books – we have three. TEMPORARILY BANNED for excessive over-use.
9. Good Morning Bluebird! – TEMPORARILY BANNED because it’s covered in a sticky substance (banana?)
10. The Tales of Mother Goose – PARTIAL BAN for violence, archaic prose, and parental annoyance factor.
The Kid loves to read – which is fabulous. Do I feel the slightest bit guilty about temporarily hiding certain books from him? Yes. . .
But I’m pretty sure I’ll get over it. If I never have to do that annoying Fox in Socks voice again, it will be too soon!