Elementary School Libraries meets Mommy

31 03 2009

I have to remind myself that I’m against censoring books from public schools.  I’m against removing books that parents may consider inappropriate.  But today, I had to really grab a hold of myself mentally before complaining about a book.

I have three kids, all young elementary school age and I know that they are going to encounter things that they have to learn by the time they get older.  Today I was registering my middle child for a charter school and while she was testing, we waited in the media center.  Her younger brother goes to look around and comes back with a book that has a picture of a crying baby on the front.  It says something like “my birth story” or something.  He opens it and not only is it anatomically correct – it is anatomically DETAILED.  I was not prepared to answer THESE questions so early on.  We’re still talking about what being adopted means and how my kids did not come out of my tummy.  I prefer them to believe for now that a baby just automagically appears.  They don’t need to know about birth canals and wet slimy hair or vaginas (which my daughter calls “my china”) or umbilical cords.

Then the book goes on to talk about how daddy holds the baby and everyone cries and takes pictures and how mommy breastfeeds the baby (anatomically correct and detailed) and everyone is so happy.  Now, YES, they need to know this happens.  There is nothing WRONG or SHAMEFUL about it.

A parent should be one to help open doors, right?  We should not censor books but rather make a wide variety of factual and fiction books available so that a child knows that if they are interested, there is a way to learn it available.  Also, they need to know that different people have different stories and perspectives.  They need to learn history and how people viewed things in the past.  Sheltering them can only backfire.  Right?  Right.  I believe this.  Ok.  So why am I hyperventilating?

A glimpse into my thoughts:

“OMG, what the hell do they have at this school?”

“Why would you have this book in a school?  Isn’t this something parents should teach kids about?”

“Holy crap, it’s a vagina with a head sticking out! Quick, turn the page!”

“How do I get this book away from the kid without drawing too much attention to the fact that it flusters me?”  This rugrat’s sole purpose in life is to disturb me visibly and pay attention to everything I don’t want him into.  Talk about eating spiders grosses mom out, alright, let’s do that.  Let’s also talk about poop and trashcans and dirty underwear.  So being obvious about “not this book” would totally start the obsession with the book.

“I hope he doesn’t ask why all those people are happy and if his bio-family was happy when he was born.  I don’t lie well to him so this can get sticky.” Really, the kid is a human lie detector.

“Why are those other parents looking over here?  Do they see that my son is sitting here looking at a slimy wrinkled baby with a long blue umbilical cord.  Am I red? Sweating?  Oh lord Jesus.”

What came out of my mouth was “wouldn’t you rather read Yertle the Turtle?”

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