The Littlest Critic has for a while been obsessively worrying about fire. She requests that I go around the house unplugging things at bedtime to ensure that they won't start a fire. Needless to say, I embellish exactly what I'm going to unplug at night, because I'm just not going to do that to te refrigerator.
In-depth and frequent explanations as to why there is a very low statistical probability of our house catching on fire haven't actually been of much use (and for some bizarre reason made her then start worrying that burglars and robbers were going to break in and steal her stuffed animals). Nor has going around the house demonstrating all the things we have in case of a fire, such as smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, and even a safety ladder under the bed for quick escapes out the window, been of much use.
Now, for the last year or so, we've been reading chapter books and by that I don't mean short little kiddie books broken up into ten page chapters. I mean the Winnie the Pooh series, Charlotte's Web, Coraline, the Junie B. Jones books, and more. At a recent Scholastic Book Fair at TLC's kindergarten, able to pick her own books, she chose something entitled The White Giraffe. (They were all out, much to her dismay and we got a copy for her for Christmas, but I digress.) I picked it up the other night to read to her, after her second run through Coraline to ready The Wife for the film, and read the back.
The night Martine Allen turns eleven years old is the night her life changes completely. Martine’s parents are killed in a fire, so she must leave her home to live on an African wildlife reserve with a grandmother she never even knew she had....
Well, reading that kind of thing, I decided that we would skip this story for a bit. Not that we'd never read it, but probably during her big obsessive fear phase, maybe not the best bedtime story.
But, I asked TLC while she was in the bath if she wanted to know why we were going to skip the story even though she's been requesting it. This is what followed:
TLC: Okay. Why?Me: Well, something bad happens in the book and I thought it might scare you right now.TLC: What? What happens?Me: So, the little girl the book is all about? Her parents die.TLC: How.Me: Well, they die in a fire. [I then read her the above back jacket copy.]TLC: What??? That's horrible. On her birthday? That's awful. That' would completely ruin her birthday party.Me: (Trying not to laugh) Well, yes. That would ruin her birthday party. Among other things.TLC: I can't believe someone's birthday could get ruined like that.Me: Me either.
So, of course, perspective is obviously everything. Imagine what she'd have thought if this character's inconsiderate parents had been burned on Christmas Eve. She might not even have gotten her stocking!