I was at a school once where one of the teachers didn't want to read ME AND RUPERT GOODY to her class because of the "child abuse." I confess that I was taken by surprise when I was told that and had to think hard to even realize what she was talking about.
This is what she was talking about:
"Mama slaps them silly when they say that, leaving her red handprint on their cheeks. They start howling and holding their faces and she says, "Y'all hush up that bawlin' before I give you something to bawl about."
I thought a lot about that incident - wondering why it would have been a bad thing for children to hear that.
Not long after that, I was at a school discussing "show, don't tell" with some third graders. We were brainstorming ways that people show anger. A small and very spunky boy announced very matter-of-factly that one time his mother got mad at him for sloshing bath water onto the floor and she slapped him. (However, he prefaced that with "before my mom was in therapy....")
He literally used the word "slapped", not "hit".
His mother slapped him.
Naturally, it made me think once again about the issue of children reading about children being slapped by a parent.
Do we not want children to know that some children get slapped? If so, why not?
For the children who are slapped, do we not want them to read about it? If so, why not?
Okay, fast forward to yesterday. I wrote the following in my work-in-progress:
"Velma stomped over to Popeye and gave him a little whack on the arm when she asked him what in the world had gotten into him. Then another whack when she asked him if he had plumb lost his mind. And one last whack when she asked him if he was trying to worry her right into the grave."
Then, a few passages later:
"Popeye could tell that all she wanted to do in the whole world, at that moment, was find herself a rolled up newspaper and swat Starletta's skinny legs. But, of course, she couldn't. So she turned to Popeye and said, "Let's go."
I woke up during the night thinking about that.
My thought was this: Maybe I should change that.
Maybe Velma should just nudge him a little and not whack him.
Maybe I should take out the rolled-up newspaper stuff.
Sigh.... I hate it when my THINKING self gets in the way of my creative self. (Wild mind vs. monkey mind.)
For cryin' out loud, Velma would have whacked his arm and swatted her legs. That's the way Velma is.
As I said before, sometimes, like in the country western song, "I wish somehow, I didn't know now, what I didn't know then" - if you know what I mean.