When I read Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day in 3rd grade I was shocked at the lack of selection in Alexander's local shoe department. The choices for "sneakers" (an archaic term to me) were white with blue stripes (desirable), red with white stripes (desirable), blue with red stripes (desirable), or plain old white (undesirable). I could not believe this. In my short life I had seen pink with darker pink stitching, blue with white stripes, tan with blue stripes, pink with darker pink stripes, and light blue with white stripes. I had also seen saddle shoes with Winnie the Pooh on them and maroon school shoes with a potato chip heel. (Oh man. I sound like how old people sound when they say "saddle shoes with Felix the cat on them" or "matador boots with the cuban heel." Yikes.) Poor Alexander! He must have lived in the olden days. In fact, the book was published in 1977, just a few years before I read it. It was also a few years BEFORE Led Zeppelin broke up and John Lennon was shot which, in my mind, seemed to have happened before I was born. But I was actually my daughter's age (8) when those milestones from the olden days occurred. Whoa.
I started thinking about this when I was looking for a Trapper Keeper for my son. I can't believe how many different kinds there are now. When I was in grade school I could have chosen the red one with a white flap, the blue one with a white flap, or the green one with a white flap which would probably have been sold out so I would have been forced to get the plain old blue canvas number and had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.
I'm getting him the binder to use at school. That's another thing. We just went to parent teacher conferences (now called SEP and I don't know why). Sam's great of course but his teachers talked about him being "quiet." I just don't get it. For all the difficulty of being shy as a child the one place it served me well was at parent teacher conferences. "She's so quiet!" Remember how it was good to be quiet at school and bad to "visit with your neighbor"? Now you are supposed to speak up.
I started thinking about this when I was watching TV with Ben, my 4 year old. I hate pretty much all the kids on TV. Why is that? They are all vocal and confident. There's no sulky Alexanders. There's no fat Blubbers. There's no insecure 4th Grade Nothings. In my day the only over-confident out-spoken person we saw on TV was Bugs Bunny. And he was a grown up rabbit. And we loved him for his audacity. Here are some of the contemporary characters I hate: Max, Emmy, Franklin, Caillou, the Backyardigans, and Dora. (I did like Kipper but you don't see much of him anymore.) And I hate kids in real life who act like those characterst. Is it me or do you see more of that kind of kid these days? A really out-spoken obnoxious kid used to be a rarity and was funny and wonderful like Rachel Miner or Chris Low. Now there are so many that it's no fun anymore. Could it be that life is imitating art or do you think the TV shows are just a reflection of how kids are now and if they are, why are they like that now? Is it because they never hear Morgan Freeman say, "It's a T, stupid." like I heard on the Electric Company? Are they better off thinking tiny helpless creatures like hampsters can save the world? Because--you know they can't, right?