This is a guest post from Elaine:
Because I’m a bit OTT about almost everything, I bought Mateo stacks of lovely books when he was born. All neatly arranged in the bookshelf, they looked picture perfect and reminded me of how I wished my childhood had been. Ahem.
Turns out, once he was old enough to use his hands and will, all the books were moved to a safe place until he learnt not to rip everything into pieces or chew the book bindings away to nothing. They were replaced with regular board books and bright, colourful numbers, alphabet and animal books. The boring stuff, frankly.
Anyway, to liven up his book selection, the Husband ordered some “classics” off the internet. Pop-up books. Now Mateo’s old enough to sort of understand the concept of turning a page SLOWLY, we thought it was time to get more interactive with the bedtime reading.
“I’ve got two classics on the way – Pinocchio and Moby Dick!” said The Husband excitedly, 6 months ago. Every day, he’d check to see if a package had arrived. He told Mateo all about the two amazing books that he’d read as a boy and how they’d soon be Mateo’s to read. The excitement in the household was building. Really, it was.
Finally, package one arrived. “It’s here! Let’s get Mateo to open it!” we cried in unison. Almost a month after ordering it, filling Mateo’s head with how it was the best thing ever, he tore into the packaging and whipped out a large, heavy, and beautifully illustrated Pinocchio. It looked gorgeous. “From Spain.” said The Husband, proudly.
As we looked over Mateo’s shoulder…
Me: “Wow, there’s a LOT of text. Where are the pictures?”
TH: “CARAY. What’s wrong with these people? This is a children’s book!!!”
Me: “Where the F did you get this from? WHERE IN SPAIN?”
Both: “NO MATEO. DO NOT TURN THE PAGES.”
Imagine a mash up of anime, manga and soft porn in a pop-up. Yeah. LA CLASSE.
TH: “Maybe we can give it to someone as a present?”
Me: *Steely glare*
We laughed about it, told Mateo it was the wrong book and that another one was coming instead. What a cock-up. Excuse the pun. Yes, it was THAT bad,
The second package arrived. Even more excitement, if you can imagine. This new book would rid Mateo’s memory bank of the red and beautiful Pinocchio book.
Mateo opened it. We never learn, do we? No body parts or weird Japanese stuff. No. Just a lot of terror and drowning.
Me: “You did it again. Oh for the love of god. You are now banned from ordering books from foreign countries.”
TH: “CARAY!! What’s wrong with these people? This is a children’s book!!!”
Both: “Mateo, NO. Please STOP TURNING THE PAGES.”
Destruction, fear, scary drawings. You name it. A guaranteed nightmare that would last months. You have to laugh really.
But wait, Mateo LOVED it. With a bit of poetic license from The Husband, the horror book was turned into one of Mateo’s favourite bedtime books. “No, they didn’t drown. They swam away to their new houses.” “He’s carrying a big knife to cut up the fish. For supper. Delicious!”
Mateo showed me the book one day, see photo. Scary man carrying a head dripping with blood. Mateo: “This is the man bringing lunch.” Errrr, ok. WEIRDO.
Other books that we’d had in our childhood memory banks have also proven to be utter s***-scary, messed up and psychological damaging.
Take The Pied Piper of Hamlin. All the children die at the end. WHY???? More ad-libbing from The Husband. “They went home and went to sleep. Good night.”
Grimm’s Fairy Tales. I started reading one of them and only got as far as 2 pages in before I realized it was in fact, a horror story. Mr Grimm had a very grim mind.
Alice in Wonderland – drugs, hallucinations, tiresome girl, more serious drugs. Lewis Carroll was off his face.
Oranges and Lemons, rang the Bells of St Clements…Here comes the chopper to chop off your head. “Head? No, I said Bed.”
Now that Mateo’s about to get his first reader at school, all the parental bullshitting will go out of the window. He will realize that all the littles in The Pied Piper did not actually go home; AND SO MUCH MORE…
That aside, I’m humungously thrilled that the boy will soon be able to read his own sodding bedtime stories to himself. The Husband seems to really enjoy reading the books. He has more patience with the page turning – and returning x150. I cannot bear it. I’m a right cow. Mateo and I end up having a silent war of hands/pages/turning/pushing until one of us gives in. Mateo usually wins and I sob. We, like all parents (right?) do on occasion try to speed through and even skip a few pages/chapters. Of course, if we get caught we have to start from the beginning. That’s karma, right there.