Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Even Reading to Your Children Can Be a Problem Sometimes

Every Saturday morning we have a young woman come to the house to watch the girls so we can get things done around the house. E is currently working on a MFA in Writing Children’s Literature. She let us borrow some books to read to the girls. These books were amazing even though they were a little above Emma and Allison’s comprehension level. One of the most interesting and creative of those books was The Day I Swapped my Dad for Two Goldfish by Neil Gaiman. I loved reading the book. The illustrations were great. I think children would have even more fun reading it themselves because of the way it is put together.
As much as I enjoyed reading the book, it posed a parenting problem that I wasn’t anticipating. At one point during the book, a brother gets mad at his sister and torments her by telling her that she was adopted. I was on a roll and read through it without before I had a chance to think about it. I immediately looked over at Emma while I continued to read. She didn’t have any reaction this time. The next time I read that book, I can easily skip over that part. That isn’t the issue. The issue is that Emma isn’t always going to be in the company of people sensitive to adoption issues. They will not know to insert something else or to avoid it all together. Even then, Emma will one day soon be able to read herself. I won’t be able to review everything she reads to make sure that it is adoption friendly. Emma is going to hear someone refer to adoption as an insult.
As much as I want to shield her from the ugliness in this world, sheltering her would hurt her more in the long run. She is going to have to learn to come to terms with adoption in general just as she will have to come to terms with her own experience. The same is true for me. I wonder if it would be the correct thing to do to skip or substitute unflattering references to adoption. Should I protect her from that or use it as a teaching moment when she gets older? She’s too young to catch on to what was read yet. When that time comes, should I bring it up myself or wait for her. Not saying anything about such literary references lead her to believe that I agree with those statements or don’t care about her feelings? Would saying something make an issue where this isn’t one for her?
I’m unsure of how to handle this. Has anyone else come across this before? If so, how did you handle it? If not, I would really appreciate your thoughts or suggestions.

1 comment:

petunia said...

it's intersting that you brought that up. I'm an adoptee but never really thought much about that stuff....even when Annie was big and she was going to be adopted by daddy Warbucks. I never thought much about it I guess because no one made a big deal about it and by the time I was old enough to understand , I was old enough to understand the context.

It's sort of like sex with kids...I watched "Soap" with my family and didn't get most of the sex jokes....I've seen some re-runs and they're pretty risque.