Thursday, June 22, 2006

is this appropriate?

I'll start with the comic book because that's where this post and the muse and myself, and here we are. Big Brother asked, in reference to a Paul Pope comic book, "is this appropriate?" He's learned that certain items in the household library are things that Momma and I have deemed inappropriate. His reading level is to a point where I honestly worry about some of the things that he could read. I wonder sometimes whether this should be a concern, but I also know that I want to give him room to grow some. I think there are certain things that children may not be ready for. Should a seven year old be reading Kurt Vonnegut? He is perfectly able to, but should he?

I feel as though I should say that my ideas of appropriateness may differ greatly from those of many parents. Certainly the family that seems to represent homeschooling has vastly different ideas than I have. But, accepting that each family is as individual as the members that make up that family, are we so different?

When Big Brother asked his question, my mind went through a litany of questions concerning this book's content. It's a basic scifi story, teen girl superhero, not presented sexually, artwork is really great, so he should read the thing. It's a great book, and there isn't anything that Momma or I would not want him reading.

But then I am forced to remember, even if only for a moment, that I could learn the lesson. Kids don't often wait till we are ready. They go and hear things, or they read the book of short stories with that one really creepy Ray Bradbury story. Or my favorite, when your sharing with your child a favored movie, and that one scene comes on that you had completely forgotten was in the movie, and you just kind of let it go and wait for whatever happens. But, hey, that's homeschooling/life.

The real concerns concerning appropriateness concern that ability to see things in a broader context. Mark Twain is a perfect example. He uses language that is very racist, yet he himself was not racist but wrote in the dialect of the day. It's a not uncommon practice, but how does a child know this? He has no context in which to place the word "darky," so we have to be sure to explain it. But I also want to let him have a little more innocence. I don't want him to know just yet that some people are racist, that such ugliness exists. I want my boys to be open and accepting, and I want them to learn how to truly judge the character of a person. But that's tempered by wanting them to not be ignorant and naive.

And here's the sad part of this whole thing. The comic in question is sitting out because I was looking for some good images of the feminine form to practice drawing while working on some ideas for Momma's roller derby team logo. From the comic being out we jump to me and Momma BC (before children) mid to late '90's and our then growing comic collection. That was one of the things to feel the bite of changing financial prerogatives. While I do have some great comics, and I have missed a few years worth of Blade of the Immortal, they certainly aren't worth the value of the two boys who pushed the comics to the back of the line. And yes, Paul Pope is good for kids, and tomorrow, I'm going to make sure that Big Brother stretches his small self out in the floor. This is a big comic by the way, 9.5"x13" as opposed to whatever size comics usually are. But Paul Pope's art works so perfectly in a larger size.

I don't know that we learned anything here today, but maybe we started a dialogue that will lead to healing, or just not being hippies!


sammimag said...

Maybe you could think of all of it as the ultimate in strewing. If he doesn't know what it is he will ask. It will lead to interesting conversations where he will learn a lot about the world and then the book will make more sense too. Then he might just want to build a raft and go exploring.

JoVE said...

Some of the stuff that other people think inappropriate within a book/movie/whatever or that we ourselves might worry about actually goes largely unnoticed by kids of that age, I think. They don't have a context for it so they ignore it. I think we forget that they don't understand all of what they read and they really don't care. Might be why they read things over and over and over (or at least my almost 9 year old does).

Also reading aloud is a good way to stretch them. I'm getting to read lots of good children's literature that I never read as a child or have forgotten about. And it is sometimes a good way to introduce other stuff that might be appropriate but isn't really written for children.