Library Priveledges Revoked

My son went on a field trip to the Capital Area District Library on Monday.  It was an event.  He came home with his own signed library card.  I loved looking at his childlike signature on the back.  We made casual conversation about the trip and what his class did at the library.  He said he was required to find a non-fiction book whose author’s last name started with the letter “J”. 
My child has not had the easiest time learning to read.  It has been a challenge.  Many of you may be familiar with the DS Ultimatums I gave him earlier in the year.  Those ultimatums along with a healthy dose of…
Mom, how do you spell “because”.

Look it up in the dictionary.

Aww, mom! It’s probably not in there anyway.  Why won’t you just tell me how to spell it?  It’s going to take forever to look it up! I am asking you for help and you won’t help me!

I am helping you by teaching you how to help yourself.
The whole teach a man to fish thing was totally lost on my seven year old.  However, he is now reading at the middle of his grade level. (Woo Hoo!) We are so pleased but now he is like the worst 7 year old speller in our home.
Haha..get it.  He’s the only 7 year old speller in our home. *sigh* That was a knee slapper.
I am in the process of coming up with some new challenges for my very average* reader like a weekly spelling bee, dictionary challenges…basically anything to work on his vastly improving literacy skills.
*Average = Amazingly determined to learn something that does not come easily.  So proud.
Anyhow, back to the library incident of 2011…
As we continue to chat about his experience, he pulls out the book that he found. 
Weapons of War by John Hamilton  I am not sure if he got the directions wrong, or if I’m just that lucky.  It comes with a pretty little ribbon on the corner that says “War on Terror”.  I am not happy.  Let me be clear when I say that I have no intention of pretending that war does not exist.  I do not intend to demonize weaponry.  I would like to get a license to carry because in a state where hunting is kind of a big deal, I’d like to be knowledgeable about guns.  
As I have have said before, I don’t want to bust a cap but there is nothing wrong with knowing how.
I am not a fan of war (who is?) but I am in constant awe of the sacrifices our troops make.
Both of my parents and many of my family members have served time in one branch of the military or the other.  I fired my first weapon when I was 8 or so and was born an Army brat in Landstuhl, Germany.
However, I had a bit of an Ally McBeal moment when I saw the contents of this book.
My mind went to this place …
Image found HERE
I thought the Lego interpretation of book burning was appropriate for dealing with a mother’s censorship issues.
Now that I have laid out all of the issues I don’t have with the book my darling Isaiah brought home, let me lay it out for you.
I do not think that weaponry in the context of war is cool.  I don’t find automatic weapons to be interesting.  I glued on my smile for my son while I formulated a response to his choice that would not discourage his hard won reading interest or make light of the challenge it was for him to find the flippin’ book in the first place.
I tried to see the good side.  I used words like technology and bravery and 

“yes, that ship is way bigger than our house and loads of sailors live on them.”

When I see the words “Weapons of War”  I think of death, dismemberment, roadside bombs, civilian death tolls, flag covered coffins and children dealing with the stress of deployment.  I see mothers having babies alone and single parenting with the will of iron until daddy comes home.  I don’t see anything on those shiny pages to get excited about.
I do see an opportunity.  Tonight we will talk about those “Weapons of War”. We will talk about how lucky we are to have a strong military force to protect us and how unlucky it is to have to depend on them for so many years.  We will talk about what we can do to support the families of the enlisted as well as our troops on the ground. 
I will flex my big mommy muscles just like I did when he came home with a new word that begged an explanation…abortion.  A word learned from a friend at school.  Another conversation I would have liked to have saved for…oh, I don’t know….Never!
Unfortunately we do not get to choose the moments we have to be on top of our game as parents.  We wade into conversational landmines over sex, religion, violence and bullying unknowingly.  Our children discover the world in ways we never expect but we have to address what they are learning.  We have to guide them into the crap infested waters of our world even when we would prefer to hold our noses and pretend the poop was not there.
Parenting is like, so hard
All of this and I have to remember to return the book too!  Jeez, all this so my kid can read.  I’m not sure any of this education stuff is in my best interest. :)
I do recommend this book by Alice Walker about war for an artfully presented reality. This book is actually a pretty good representation about why I have such a hard time with my son’s find.

I should also mention that I have no beef with my son’s school, teacher or the library over this.  Just in case you got some weird ideas about that from this post.  

4 thoughts on “Library Priveledges Revoked

  1. This happened when my daughter was about 3. She was dilly-dallying in the children's section and I asked her to just “pick something” so she grabbed one that looked good to her. Interesting title, bright, colorful cover… We got it home and it was “Jalani and the Lock,” a story about the author's great-grandfather who was captured in Africa and brought to America to become a slave. Inside the back cover was a photo of the original lock used to bind his chains. Like you said, it's not that I don't want my child to be aware of the sacrifices that Africans (not even Americans at that time!) were forced to make for our country but at preschool age? “Here honey, let's read about the boy who was outside playing and got kidnapped, dragged across the ocean and was kept in chains and never saw his family again. Now sleep well!” The world is out there and this parenting thing is not for wimps, eh?

  2. I recently had a conversation like this with a friend – she had to explain domestic violence to her daughter after they saw an art exhibit done by children living in shelter with their moms. Her daughter was incredulous – “Why would anyone want to HURT their family, Mom?!”

    Anna just brought home a nonfiction book called “Bulldogs.” The only one who had a problem with that in our house was Biscuit;)

  3. As if there were ever a dog that could ever outshine Biscuit in Anna's eyes!

    Domestic Violence. Ick. Place that in the column of things I do not look forward to trying to explain. As if there is an explanation that could ever sound reasonable. I think that little girl hit the nail on the head. Why would anyone want to hurt their family?! No explanation could ever make this sound anymore reasonable.

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