Monday, November 07, 2016

Just a thought

Some people on an Internet board I frequent are discussing having their kids watch election-outcome coverage, or taking the kids to public places where there are election watches going on. And I suppose that's fine, that's your choice, but you know what this 47 year old is going to be doing instead of watching election returns?

Sitting in a virtual blanket fort (if it gets cold enough these next two days I may build one that is real) and reading children's books.

I decided to re-read for the fifth or sixth time "The Wolves of Willoughby Chase" the night after finding out about my cousin's death because I could not deal with either World War I or accounts of a flu epidemic, and even a mystery novel seemed too much.

(Though the "Wolves of..." is kind of traumatic in its own way; over the top horrible things happening to a couple of girls, even as you know (a) the "bad guys" are cartoonish and (b) good will triumph in the end, there's that uncomfortable feeling of helplessness when Bonnie and Sylvia are sent to the terrible orphanage by the horrible governess who is bent on stealing their parents' money while the parents are adrift at sea)

I'll probably finish that novel tonight but I'm thinking maybe starting an actual read-through (in the order Susan Cooper intended) of the Dark is Rising sequence might be a good late-fall novel project.

I like a lot of these "kid's books" because of the clear moral arc: there is good and there is evil (or perhaps, in milder books, "bad," rather than true evil) and good wins over evil in the end because good is persistent and honest and has kind people to help it. (Simon, the goose-boy, helps Bonnie and Sylvia; there are one or two girls at the orphan's asylum who risk severe punishment to help them, partly because Bonnie has been so kind to the other girls....and yes, there's also that idea of "you get back what you put out into the world" - that if you are a kind and good person it eventually comes back to you). Real life isn't so clear cut, and that's one of the great tragedies (for me at least) of adulthood: that you can be kind and good and still not prosper, and it can look like people who break every rule in the book get ahead, and the reason I keep coming back to these "children's chapter books" is because they give me hope that what I see as an adult is wrong, and that there WILL be a reward to being a decent person (beyond merely being able to live more comfortably with your conscience) and more importantly, the bad people thwarting those who would do good (or even who would just live their lives unmolested) will wind up paying for it in the end)

I'm trying to remember if I watched election-night coverage as a kid and I think the answer is "no." When I was small I didn't really understand the workings of government and didn't care that much as long as my parents took care of me. When I got older I was more involved with school and stuff, and it was always a school night, and none of the teachers ever did the "I want you to watch the election returns, so no homework for tomorrow" thing that I suspect some teachers now may do.

And even if they did, meh: I felt then as I feel now; my watching it in real-time will in no way affect the outcome, I can learn that the next morning when I get up (Or, as we learned from 2000, sometime around Thanksgiving....)

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