Monday, August 14, 2006

An ethnic cleansing tale your toddler will love!

My 18-month old son loves books. But books have a short life in his hands. He goes through them like some people go through parole officers. So I find it necessary to constantly replenish his book supply as he repeatedly destroys the ones he has. The destruction occurs partly because he likes to flip through his books over and over, looking at the pictures and shouting the names of the things he recognizes, and partly because he also throws them, steps on them, spills things on them, and slices them to tiny shreds with his circular saw. In spite of the fact that he only gets board books--those hard, super-sturdy books you give little kids who are can't be trusted not to eat or defecate on a regular paper book--he still manages to render them unreadable in fairly short order. If I bought all his books at Barnes & Noble, I'd have to peddle ecstasy in the downtown bars to pay for them, so when I'm driving past a garage sale, I'll usually stop to see if they have any bargain kids books.

My criteria when purchasing these books is such: Is it a book? Is it for kids? Is it hard? I'll take it. I don't spend much time leafing through them inspecting the content. For 25 cents, I figure I can just buy it now, check it out later, and toss it if I don't like it for whatever reason. But what's not to like? Ninety-nine percent of the time, they're harmless little narratives about a bunny who loves flowers, an impish boy who befriends a toad, a ladybug looking for her mommy, or a ball that bounces super high.

Why am I telling you about my garage sale book-buying jaunts? Because it will help explain why my toddler has a board book about baby killing.

As mentioned above, I don't peruse these books when purchasing them. So when I saw this little gem, it seemed harmless enough:

Now, I don't normally go for the Bible-story books. Usually I find these stories to be not very fun-looking, and let's face it, my kid is only a year and a half old. What he's really looking for in a book is a picture of a kitty or a doggie or a balloon, not a picture of a burning bush or a pillar of salt. So I try to stick with what looks simple enough for a kid to grasp. But I examined the cover of the book and saw what you see above--a baby in a basket, some water, some birds, some friendly-looking, smiling folks. Seemed like a winner. So I bought it, along with a Clifford The Big Red Dog book and a Dr. Seuss book.

At home, I tossed it onto the massive, towering pile of Jake's books and forgot all about it for a couple of weeks. Jake put it in his regular rotation of reading (okay, pointing at and slobbering on), and it wasn't until yesterday that I happened to sit down and look through it with him. All was well and good on page one, but at page two we hit a roadblock:

In case you can't read the fine print, or in case you think your eyes must be deceiving you, yes! It really does say "The King of Egypt thought there were too many Hebrews in his country, so he gave the order that all Hebrew baby boys were to be killed." Note the cartoonish illustration (properly fashioned in the primary colors that best capture a toddler's eye) of a frantic mommy clutching her infant while an ominous-looking fellow with a baby-slicing sword ransacks the place.

Don't get me wrong--I'm not the kind of person who advocates censoring books. But I was thinking I'd hold off teaching jake about infanticide until he was at least 2 years old. There's plenty of time to discuss murder and slaughter of all kinds once he starts potty training. At some point, I plan to incorporate the holocaust into his bedtime stories, but I was thinking I wouldn't start that until we move him from his crib into a toddler bed.

So for now, I'll tuck this perfectly normal, perfectly healthy children's book away, and pull it out again when Jake is old enough to pronounce the word genocide.

31 comments:

puerileuwaite said...

Noah's Ark is the better choice for potty training.

CommonWombat said...

I completely disagree with you here. I think one-and-a-half years is the PERFECT time to teach a kid about infantacide, because it can directly and profoundly relate to their lives.

"Okay Jake, Mommy and Daddy are trying to sleep now. One more peep out of you and the King of Egypt is going to kill you. With a sword. SO zip it."

That's the kind of training that sticks with a kid for life.

The Bard of the Wood said...

Great. Now the kid is going to grow up in a shelter. Oops, I mean he's going to grow up sheltered. He'll hate you for it later.

Nocturnal said...

You can always count on the biblE for fictional horror stories KB. Maybe try a Ouija board next time. If he breaks one of those things I'll be surprised.

Cheers

Mighty Dyckerson said...

Lysol makes a good ethnic cleanser. I have the one with the fresh pine scent.

Antonio said...

Really, you should have known better. The Bible leads off with a story of two nudists whose first child kills his brother. From there you have children's gems like killing 99.9% of the population in a flood and a group of siblings selling their brother into slavery. Stick to the classics, like Penthouse and Stephen King novels.

Margaret said...

I loved that story as a kid, my brother's middle name is Moses and I so wanted to put him in a basket and send him on his way!

Dave Morris said...

Stories that instill fear... from the BIBLE? You've got to be kidding me.

Okay, so what's with those cats? All cats are inherently evil, and so my issue lies with the cat that is under the bed - he doesn't even look evil. How is a kid supposed to receive a valuable message when reality isn't represented?

Amanda said...

yikes...i am still scared of the story of passover. or at least of yul bremner.

miss kendra said...

i love that there are cats! it's so historically accurate.

i think next you should read him the one where the two daughters get their dad drunk and seduce him.

that's really educational.

Masked Mom said...

Wrong--just so very wrong.

Crazy MomCat said...

I had this some teaching bible school for my church this summer too. I was shocked when I looked at the curriculum for my 3-4 year olds and almost every story was about someone dying, someone going blind or being punished by God. Hello? Can these kids grasp this at this age? Isn't that a LITTLE intense for them? So, I changed all my lessons to be about helping friends and Jesus's love.

LOL at Wombat's comments too...too hilarious.

kim said...

The cat is running for it's life!

Yeah, we like "My First Bible" with it's nice thick chewable cardboard pages, the beautiful pictures of Jesus with the children and the lambs -- and
that last page where he is murdered -- great bedtime stuff.

My girls picked it over Baby Mozart every time

Frankie B said...

Karla,
Howbout starting a horror story reading play date type of thing? I'm sure we'd make a killing

Wombat, you need to teach babysitting classes bro, great stuff

Spaceman Spiff said...

Do they have a cartoon version of Schindler's List out? That would be some fine entertainment for Jake. Maybe just show him the opening 25 minutes from Saving Private Ryan over and over.

He should be at least 19 months old before you teach him about infanticide. I think it suggests it for 20 to 24 months in the Be A Great Parent handbook. Did they not give you one when you left the hospital? It is in 38 volumes because it also has those thick cardboard pages. I think it is book 4, right after the chapter on how to torment pets like all good children do.

Violet said...

You are probably wise to save Jake from this propoganda until he is at least potty-trained... Great commentary.

puerileuwaite said...

Karla, some of your commenters pointed out an important concern. The genocide, while of moderate interest, pales in comparison to the fact that the place is absolutely teeming with cats. And isn't that the real message? That cats are a poor choice for companions?

Why just look at that S.O.B. leading the storm troopers into the room. Nip on THIS, tabby.

And don't even get me started on how cats were responsible for the earlier 7-years of famine. It's all right here on divinely inspired cardboard, people!

mindy said...

omg.. i got that book as a "gift" at my baby shower. i was horrified.

a fish on a bycicle said...

Let's just hope he doesn't read your soup packets any time soon?

Mr. Fabulous said...

Maybe "genocide" will be his first word. That will make it easier to broach the subject.

Kell said...

That is hilarious!

I had a Noddy book as a child with a story of the golliwogs taking Noddy to the middle of a dark forest and stripping him naked. There was an actual picture of him all huddled up and naked with sneering evil golliwogs in the background. It kept me awake for years.

Nancy said...

Yeah, many a bible story flirts with the ol' infantacide. I remember my sunday school teacher acting out the classic tales about the angel of death, King Solomen (cut the baby in two!) and Abraham (kill your son!) with cheerful little cut-outs on a felt board.

delmer said...

"Too many Hebrews ..."

Must be from the Mel Gibson line of children's books.

Are any of the characters named 'sugartits'?

gina said...

i think its time for jake to watch "beautiful life" about the man who is "hiding" his boy from the nazis and makes it all a game? perhaps jake would like to win the tank at the end , but only if he shuts up.

Kristen said...

Bible stories are so comforting - they make great bedtime reading.

Caryn said...

I love how people who get all uptight about a mild swear word on TV have no problem with some of the things in the Bible. It's all about context, I guess.

So glad you read to Jake. Not that I'm surprised that you do.

It's Me, Maven... said...

Reading this post immediately after the garage sale post... perhaps it would be more cost effective to buy his books at garage sales?

Just a suggestion:)

n!ta said...

commonwombat slays me!

i got a 'why god made you' book in a pile recently. right in the garbage. my baby, my irreparably altered body, i will be getting ALL THE CREDIT, thank you very much :)

TinaPoPo said...

Does this book have a sequel? Because I think Jake could really learn from the plagues. Nothing sends a toddler off to Dreamytown like images of thousands of frogs falling from the sky. I can't wait to have kids.

Crunchy BC said...

That's whacha git fer tryin' to edge-a-ma-kate the boy with all yer fancy book-learnin, ya uppity who-oar.

Lyvvie said...

I can't believe he's 18 months old already!!

Wow...where does time fly?