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Monday, June 27, 2005

Down Wind . . .

I don't know what mrtl was sniffing when she came up with this week's "Monday Motif." She wants us to write about SMELL. I don't have deep thoughts on smell. I don't have any deep smells on thought, either. Just a few things I've gotten a whiff of lately:

For two days, whenever I have sat down at the computer, Biscuit, the VBD, has lain down beside me. And farted uncontrollably. If this were a scratch 'n sniff blog, you'd be outta here by now. It's heinous, it truly is. I don't know what's gotten into him. I know HE has gotten into the TRASH a lot recently. There's probably a connection there.

"The Source"


Yesterday in church, "smell" cracked me up. My pastor, Rev. Dr. Fruity, during her sermon, mentioned that when she does pre-marital counseling with a couple, she gives them a little "test," asking them to write out answers to questions like, "What are you most looking forward to about marriage?"

She said that when she gives them the assignment of writing answers to the questions, "The first thing they tell me is, 'I don't spell very well.'"

LG, sitting in the pew beside me, looked shocked, and whispered to me, "Why would they tell Miss Fruity that she doesn't smell very well?" There is no laughter as sweet as uncontrollable silent church laughter.


My favorite smell from childhood is honeysuckle. Not from a bottle, but the real deal. It was all through the woods where I spent most of my summer days as a very young girl. Back in the days when kids could leave the house on a summer morning, and maybe not be seen again until time for Dad to come home, and no one worried at all. Honeysuckle smells like childhood and like freedom, to me. The kind of freedom that my daughter will not know during her childhood, because the world is a different place, and I must know where she is every moment.


A smell from childhood that I hate is carnations. They smell like my grandparents' viewings -- held in their home, with everyone gathered around the caskets talking about how "natural" they looked. The smell of carnations instantly brings to mind the image of my uncle, a large man of fifty-something, throwing himself on the body of my grandmother, lying there against billowy white satin. The smell of carnations instantly brings to mind the sound of my uncle's wailing, "Mommy, Mommy..." Carnations mean grownups act like frightened, helpless kids, and that scares me.


My favorite scent to wear is one that smells like an orange creamsicle. Not a real citrus-y scent; it has to have the creaminess, too. I haven't found it in a perfume, but a couple of lotions have it: Camille Beckman's Orange Creme and Lady Primrose's Royal Extract.


This isn't really about smell, but it's on my mind, and this is my blog, so I'm putting it here. Let's just say . . . I think this STINKS:

These are some excerpts from a book in my home, a library book:

Girls are just plain messy. I told that to Dad as we were mashing potatoes for dinner.

"Not any messier than boys," Dad said. "Boys ejaculate, you know. We always figured you couldn't get much messier than that."


He had his hands on my waist . . . and his lips were against the back of my neck. He was slowly running his hands up and down the sides of my rib cage, and I felt a whoosh! go through my body like everything was drawing up tight, and my nerve endings were tingling.

"Ummm, Patrick," I said, leaning back against his chest, and this time he bent his head and I turned mine so that we were kissing sideways, full on the mouth, and I felt another whoosh!

I lay back in Patrick's arms, and he kissed me again. One of his hands rested on my chest, and although he wasn't touching my breasts, I think I wanted him to . . .

I felt wet and tingly, and began to realize I was definitely a sexual being . . .

OK, before you go to find your partner or small appliance, let me tell you where these passages are from. They are from a book in Phyllis Reynolds Naylor's "Alice" series. Naylor is the author of "Shiloh," about a dog. This character, Alice, is the heroine in a series of "Alice" books that were recommended to my daughter's third grade class.

I became aware of the passages above when LG brought the book to me last week and said, "Mom, I like this book, but I don't think I like this part." This was her sweet, 9-year-old way of asking me, "Is this OK for me?" I read the passages, remained calm, and looked on the back of the book for an age recommendation, as children's books often have. It is recommended for age 10 and up.

I know that children today grow up faster than I did. But . . . that is for a 10-year-old? Not MY 10-year-old. So now I know that a book shelved in the children's section (not "teen" or "young adult," but "children"), written by a children's author, and endorsed by a third-grade teacher, is not automatically a book that my daughter can read right now. My Mama job just got a little bit more difficult.

If you disagree, you can knock yourself out making a case here, but you'll be wasting keystrokes. This Mama is quite clear on this matter. Hell, even my 9-year-old knows that isn't good for her. "Age 10 and up," it says. There is a lot of difference between "10" and "up." I don't know at what age LG will be ready for such things: 12, 14, I don't know. I know it won't be at 10.

Remember the "hospice porn" story? After that, I talked with LG about why it wasn't good for her to see the book that she found at Nana's. She told me that she had a feeling it wasn't good, but she didn't know why it wasn't. We talked about "conscience," and that little voice that tells us when something isn't quite right, even when you don't know why, because it's something that's new to you, and no one has ever told you that it isn't right. When she brought me this book, I affirmed how well her "little voice" is working, and how she will be in good shape if she keeps listening to it so well. It will help protect her when I can't be there. That part doesn't stink. That part is kind of like honeysuckle.

68 heads are better than one . . .

Anonymous peefer said...

I love your approach to teaching about conscience. I'm gonna steal it, ok?

My little voice was a very loud one, but it kind of dissapeared while I went to university. Education (actually, peers) can do things like that. Thankfully the voice is back.

Blogger marybishop said...

I love the smell of gardenias...one of the best parts of Disney World was walking down a trail loaded with gardenia plants in bloom...heaven for the gardenia lovers like me (but I'd never wear the scent!)

Blogger Jeffs place said...

Im glad for you as a parent that you have success with your children coming to you for more information on adult topics. Kudos Susie. I would like to know how a school determines what is appropriate. I believe they missed the boat on this one.

Blogger Circus Kelli said...

Whoa. That is a little scary, about LG's book.

Blogger Susie said...

peefer, I will gift it to you, so your conscience won't bug you about stealing it ;) Yes, the voice can too easily be muffled, but it does come back.

MB, that does sound heavenly. I like gardenias, too. I like most natural floral scents, but probably like you, find them too sweet, too "thick" to actually wear.

jeff, the best explanation I can give is that these books range from when Alice is 7 or 8, through her early teens. A blanket recommendation of the entire series to 8 & 9 year-olds was not wise, IMO; the teacher may not have known how far they go, age-wise and otherwise. And I missed the boat by not checking more carefully. I didn't know I needed to, knowing the author and knowing the teacher; now I know, I need to check.

CK, yep; another reminder that we have to have first-hand knowledge, not take others' word for such things.

Blogger mrtl said...

W.O.W. - You had me going with picture of Biscuit Butt, but now I'm really aghast. Not only is there a huge difference between "10" and "up," but there's a wide range of 10. Third grade, though, still seems awfully young to be reading this material.

What scares me more is that kids are reading things that are a little too mature for them and the parents never know. Granted, some kids at this age are discovering pictures in magazines... there's a false sense of security in "recommended reading." Thanks for the head's up!

Blogger Robin said...

Whatever happened to 'Little House on the Prairie'? I remember reading 'Are You There God, it's me Margaret' by Judy Blume at LG's age, and not totally understanding it, and asking my mom about it. And that was just about getting her period! Geez, something else for me to worry about!!

Blogger SierraBella said...

I'm with you, those passages are inappropriate for that young age. I'm sure other parents of LG's classmates would agree.

Sorry to hear about Biscuits farting. When one of our dogs makes an audible fart, he jumps in the air and spins around looking for whomever is responsible.

Blogger LadyBug said...

First, kudos to LG for bringing you the book and asking you about it, rather than keeping it to herself or being ashamed. That must mean you're doing an awesome job as her mommy. I only hope my own daughters would react in the same way (and that I would react in a calm, collected manner, myself, temporarily shelving my tendency to FREAK THE HECK OUT about such things).

Second, OH MY BLEEPING HECK (that is my VERY censored way of saying what's running through my head, a curse-phrase that I find very offensive, and know that you would, too). AGES 10 AND UP? ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?? That is...just....oh, hell. Words fail me here. I SERIOUSLY thought you were quoting a cheesy romance novel there. That is just...too much. ::shaking my head and mumbling incoherently::

Blogger Lori said...

Totally inappropriate for a child of LG's age!

When I was 9, our school reading list included Bridge to Terabithia, A Wrinkle in Time, Sarah Plain and Tall, and the Little House on the Prairie series. None of which have any kind of explicit content.

I began reading Judy Blume's books around age 11, and looking back, even some of those were a little too mature. Are You There, God? and Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself (probably my favorite!) were OK. Tiger Eyes and Forever...probably not.

Anonymous Sharkey said...

Ha, Sierrabella--Penny gets freaked out by audible farts too (her own, of course--ours don't seem to bother her).

Susie, get LG some Trixie Belden books. Trixie and her friends are teenagers, but from back in the 50's. Lots of great adventures (including being gone all day), and no ejaculation talk. Ever.

Blogger a spoon said...

is our reverend really called reverend fruity??!!

Blogger Lori said...

PS - If your daughter enjoys reading for pleasure, as I did and still do, I always enjoyed the Anastasia series by Lois Lowry, and the Harriet the Spy series from Louise Fitzhugh. Shoot, I'd read them again, if I could find them in my parents' attic!

Blogger Southern Fried Girl said...

10 and UP??? Are they on crack? I am 31 and it gave me a shockwave so I can just imagine what it did to someone who was 9 years old. NO ranting here. I think you handled the whole thing beautifully.

Blogger WILLIAM said...

Scratch and sniff (with the picture of biscuit) That is funny stuff.
Regarding the age appropiate books I would be curiuos as to how they are categorized in a book store.

Anonymous kalki said...

In fifth grade I read my first Danielle Steel novel, Palamino. A friend lent it to me. There are several scenes from that book that I still remember vividly, which tells me they had quite an impact on my child mind.

My mom had a series of Christian-based sex education books that she'd read with me. But she always read and discussed them with me a few years after the series recommended for each particular book. She presented them when she felt I was mature enough for them, but she was way off and could (should?) have stuck to the ages on the books, which were conservative enough already.

Blogger Andrea said...

I've always had mixed feelings about censorship (being a librarian wanna-be), and my mom always claimed, truthfully that she never censored what we read. Looking back, I can see that wasn't necessarily the best policy. Not that I was reading stuff like this at age 9, but even at age 12, when I probably did start to, it was definitely too early for me.

Ever ambivalent about my decision to send Audrey to public school, this reminds me that in doing so, I will have to pay far more attention to things like this. Thanks for the reminder.

Blogger Random and Odd said...

lilacs outside of my grandpas house.

best smell I can think of.

Blogger Snickrsnack Katie said...

A great smell for me is that of a box of Crayola crayons. It reminds me of elementary school, and of coloring with my mother, who got me started as an artist at a very young age. As for flowers, I love the smell of lilacs.

I cannot believe that that book was recommended for LG's age group. It reads like a Harlequin romance novel! You definitely should be proud that your daughter came to you and listened to that inner voice. I still have that inner voice - and it is definitely the voice of my mother. Sounds like you and LG have a very special relationship. I always looked up to my mother, and still do things as I think she would want me to do.

I guess this is a lesson to all parents to be very aware of what is on the suggested reading list. My friend's daughter, who is 11 and is overweight, recently got "suggested" a book by her teacher. The book was about a fat girl who was teased mercilessly by her peers, and even after she is befriended by the COOL kids, she is still made fun of throughout the book. Of course, it ends with her losing weight, blah blah blah, everyone loves her now that she is skinny. I was aghast! The teachers who are suggesting these books need to be SHOT.

Blogger tinkamarink said...

Yikes, I have an eight year old and, while she can read far above grade level, she chooses to read Junie B. Jones books and is just showing interest in the Little House books. I cannot imagine explaining those passages to her. Like others, I was wondering why you were quoting cheesy bodice-rippers to us!

Blogger Von Krankipantzen said...

Biscuit-so shilky, and shoft and shmelly.

So what are you going to do about the book? Does LG have to read them for school? Does the teacher need a swift kick in the...I mean friendly chat?

Blogger Squirl said...

I'm with Sharkey on the Trixie Belden series. I know I wasn't any older than LG when I read them. Couldn't get enough of them. It wasn't long after that, though, that I was reading Agatha Christie. Lori mentioned Harriet the Spy, too. Bucky and I both loved that one.

Biscuit farts, bad, honeysuckle, good. Funny, but the honeysuckle reminds me of my great-grandmother's outhouse as it was growing all over it. Can't tell me that wasn't on purpose.

Blogger Susie said...

mrtl, you're right. I know some of the kids in LG's class enough to know that their parents will not know if they read these books.

robin, she has read the Little House books. She is probably ready for "Margaret," but we don't have that. She reads a LOT, and I have allowed her to check out her teacher's recommendations without looking at them too carefully. Until now.

sierrabella, I may say something to other parents, maybe a group email for the ones whose addresses I know.
Biscuit just acts oblivious; at least the "looking for the culprit" act would be amusing!

ladybug, yep, the more I've thought about this today, the more I know I have a really great kid, with a really good head on her shoulders.
I know; and my incredulity goes beyond the teacher, library, etc. How do an author and publisher thing it's OK to put "10" on a book like that?

lori, LG has read most of those. I need to get reacquainted with some of the Judy Blume books, she may be ready for the ones you mention. She is not ready for "erotica," though.

sharkey, LG did just start Trixie Belden, and she likes Nancy Drew, too. And this whole thing makes me think I need to write some books!

mrscoogan, welcome! You would be surprised at how close to "Fruity" her name really is! Plus the whole "fruit of the Spirit" thing; fruity suits her, and that's a compliment :)

sfg, thank you; and I know, I've read adult fiction that wasn't much more explicit than that.

william, I will check next time I"m there; I'm betting they're just like they are in the library, and that the "Alice" series is with books for elementary school age.

kalki, I read some books too early as well, but not THIS early; and when I did, I knew that I was reading books for grownups, and that they were not about things that should be happening in my life. That's ONE of the things that alarms me about this. She considers this "Alice" character as a peer.

The issue isn't LG knowing about sex; we have always talked openly about sex. We have probably the same books that you did, newer editions; actually we have 2 different series by different publishers. It's not the "facts" that she's not ready for; it's the "erotica" presentation of it. And it's the ludicrousness (is that a word?) of some of this stuff, e.g., I don't care if LG is 10 or 39, we're not discussing ejaculation while we mash the potatoes. Please!
Sorry, kalki, got a little carried away there :)

andrea, I don't think censorship concerns apply. Parents censor their kids: what they wear, what they eat, what they watch -- it's called taking care of them. And you're right, this just reminds me once again of how it's up to Jif and me to guard her welfare, and not to turn that responsibility over to anyone else.

kristine, I didn't have lilacs anywhere in childhood, but I do love them. They are one of my most favorite smells, now, and they are distinctive and memorable.

katiebbaw, I love new crayons, too, one of life's simple pleasures. Thanks for describing your relationship with your mom; I hope and pray that LG and I are headed in that direction. And as for that little girl, and the teacher -- I'm speechless; I don't know what people are thinking, sometimes.

tink, LG is very advanced in her reading ability, too, which makes it increasingly challenging to find difficult and complex enough books, that don't have subject matter that is beyond her years. Junie B., those were the good ol' days! And Ramona :)

kranki, no, they were just library books, for summer reading -- for ahem, "pleasure." :(
I may drop a note to the teacher.

Blogger Susie said...

hi, squirl, you scampered in there while I was commenting. I will push Trixie a little harder. Sounds like your granny was a resourceful woman :)

Blogger LadyBug said...

Okay, I'm back, 'cause this has just STAYED on my mind today. You mentioned, in your reply to Kranki, that you might drop a note to the teacher. I would, for sure. 'Cause you implied that knowing the teacher gave you confidence in the suggested reading list. That makes me think this teacher probably has NO CLUE what's in that book. She may have put the series on the list back in Alice's prepubescent days, and doesn't realize Alice is turning into a skank now.

(Sorry. I'm feeling a bit jaded toward Alice now. Yeah, I know, blahblahblah fictional character, whatever, if she has the potential to corrupt young, innocent minds, she's a skank in my book.)

On a lighter note, this made my day:

"I don't care if LG is 10 or 39, we're not discussing ejaculation while we mash the potatoes."

I may have to try to work that into conversation. *snork*

Blogger SRH said...

The whole passage of that book you quoted was abit scary for a 10 year old. I would not have thought that to be appropriate until 15 16 years old until I taught the Sunday school class for my church's 7 and 8th graders. It is scary scary out there.

Blogger Weetzie said...

When my kids were younger, I had to pre-read everything because they were reading above the grade level and always were getting into inappropriate stuff. Also, having worked in the children's section of a bookstore, I have read and recommended lots of reading material for all ages. I LOVE doing this and I have never recommended something that I hadn't read myself and/or knew exactly the type of book it was. We had lots of books available for the local school reading lists too. I ALWAYS wonder what SOME teachers are thinking when they recommend some of the books they put on their lists. (Just a pet peeve on the side: teachers and librarians that recommend books that are out of print for MUST READS! aaaargh!)

Blogger zhoen said...

But then you get ten year olds who are hitting puberty, and if the subject comes up in a book, and a mom is as open and honest as you, then you have the opportunity to talk about it. I agree that this should not be recommended reading for third grade though. I'd have read it then, but my mother never talked with me, only at me, on this subject.

Try the Natalie Babbit books, as well as C.S. Lewis. And although about unsavory characters and murderers, mysteries are about justice, i.e. Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle. Fairy tales like the George MacDonald's Curdie books are wonderful, The Hobbit. James Howe's Bunnicula series is very funny, Robinson Crusoe, Heidi, Encyclopedia Brown. All books without ( the best of my recollection- and I would remember) any pre or pubescent necking scenes.

I think-- not having read them with a 9 year old sensibility in mind, that all the Terry Pratchett books are fine as well. You might want to pre read them, but I think that any suggestiveness is like that in Rocky and Bullwinkle- impenetrable unless you are at least 21 or so. And very very funny as well.

Blogger Patience said...

Re: the book -ARE YOU SERIOUS! THIRD GRADE???!!!

My Mom wouldn't have approved of me read that in 9th grade, let along 3rd!!!! GOOD LORD !!

There is a time and place and grade school is NOT the place for that.

I suppose with the Victoria's Secret soft-porn commercials I shouldn't be a bit surprised but let's bring back and retain childhood innocence. Let's hear it for Little House & Little Women.

I can't believe it...

Blogger JessicaRabbit said...

Ok I read this early this morning when I was still up with MY stinky puppy and now that I have been to bed I think I can actually comment and make some sense.

First, as far as stink goes, I have a cat who farts and my boyfriend likes to feed her broccoli. Yes, he does get pinched for that, because she likes to sleep in my hair.

Second for the OTHER stink, wow, that is just totally unacceptable reading material for a girl of that age. Little house on the prarie, Trixie Beldon, Mark Twain novels, those are good but that, no. I may be a sort of free spirited person, but I am super strict as a mom. My 13 and 14 year old boys are not allowed to watch (just for starters) South Park, Family Guy, Jackass, almost anything on MTV, anything rated R that I have not seen an approved first, anything with sex and nudity mixed in, if there is nudity but its not sexually explicit nudity then fine but otherwise no, and the list goes on. They tell me they are the only kids in their school who havent seen movies like American Pie or Scary Movie. Well good. They dont NEED to see those movies, there is plenty of time for that.

More parents need to read the books and watch the shows their kids watch, they would be really surprised if they did. I read and watch everything. And I enjoy some of the shows I listed, but thats ok because I am 30 and they are 13 and 14. Ahh, another run on comment from me haha. Sorry, im yappy

Anonymous MrsDoF said...

The teacher must not have read all the books on the list and is probably going with the author. Most Naylor books are age appropriate.
When I was in 3rd grade, it was the Little House books and a waiting list at the library.
As gifts for about 3rd grade and up, I hand over Patricia MacLachlan books. She gives the reader something to think about without getting physical.

Blogger Susie said...

ladybug, you're right, Ms. B. is probably unaware of "Alice, the skank."
Yea, can you imagine, during potato mashing? Could they have mentioned any food preparation during which it would have been LESS appropriate? Please, don't get me started . . . I love mashed potatoes . . .

srh, I agree, on the ages you suggest, and on the scary.

weetzie, I realize I must pre-read. LG reads way above grade level, and I have tried to steer her toward "classics," which has worked, but she also wants the contemporary crap, I mean literature, that I can't really stand to read, but as you say, I'll have to.

zhoenw, thanks for the recommendations. LG and her Dad read the Hobbit books and the Chronicles of Narnia together. At Girl Scout camp this week, they have to go by nicknames, and she is Arwen. She loved those books. I will explore some of your other suggestions.

emmy, I'm with you; childhood is too short already, we don't need to porn it up.

JR, I applaud you for sticking to your standards. Our rules are a bit tighter than many of LG's friends, too, but we're doing what we think is best. Your recommendation of Mark Twain, which I think is an excellent one, reminds me of something LG asked me just yesterday, "Is Mark Twain Shania Twain's husband?" Oh, yea, back to the library.

mrsDoF, I will check out P.M. I don't think I know her, but clearly, I need to be able to make my own recommendations.

Anonymous lawbrat said...

Hmmmm. My 'dont go in there' post was a bit early. I should have waited until Monday.
I love honeysuckles. I have a few bushes outside my back door and I love breathing deeply everytime I go out the door.

Anonymous lawbrat said...

On the reading thing....I thought you were quoting erotica. My goodness. That is just wrong for that age. Its almost wrong for my age!

Blogger OldHorsetailSnake said...

I CANNOT believe that book is for children. Gack!!

(P.S. The smell after a summer rain.)

Blogger Nic said...

Good for you Mama Susie! I agre about the book thing. Way wrong for a child that age. Arey ou going to bring it up to the school board or principal?

Bless you for looking out for the best interests of your sweet LG.

Anonymous lawbrat said...

Susie- On a non-post related note. Could you email me at my school email.
You know my last name.
Its my last name, followed by my first initial. Then, @cooley.edu

I still cant get to my lawbrat email or any emails in it. I have a question for you.


Blogger Annejelynn said...

delurking to say "HI, I'm still around, but been too busy to comment but yes, I still adore ya!"

Blogger RitaPita said...


you are such a good mom. i don't think i would have handled that so calmly. at all.

have you contacted the teacher yet? i wonder if she even bothered to read the book first?

Blogger Candace said...

Suze, nothing new to add to the book controversy except: thanks for the heads-up. The Boy is going into third grade and reads far above grade level. I'm always looking for books for him that are challenging yet appropriate for his developmental age. I thought I could trust the librarians and teachers (can't I just ONCE let someone else make the decisions?), but it looks like I'll have to keep pre-screening.

Blogger Weetzie said...

Just some reading suggestions, I can't resist...I just finished reading InkHeart by Cornelia Funke and thought it was wonderful. Has LG ever read The Moffats? This series has just been re-issued after a time of languishing out of print. There are several books and they are totally fun! Oh and "Swallows and Amazons" is also a wonderful series. Just some thoughts from an avid kids book reader. (look them up on Amazon and see what you think...) good luck! =)

Blogger kenju said...

I love honeysuckle too, and right now my gardenia bush is in full bloom and it nearly takes my breath away when I walk out on the deck.

I cannot believe that book was recommended for 10 and up - should be 18 and up, I think. I know if my 10 year old granddaughter read it - I'd be sore as hell. That DOES stink!

Anonymous MrsDoF said...

My sons were raised on books recommended and ordered from


check out the site. Order, they need the business. Never in 20 years have I been steered off course for good reads.

Blogger Susie said...

lawbrat, you were way ahead of us, that was an excellent smelly post :) I hope you got my email.

hoss, I like that apres rain smell, too.

nic, just doin' my job, ma'am :) I will contact the teacher; I feel certain she didn't know the series "went there."

annejelynn, thank you, darlin'. Backatcha.

ritapita, thanks, I have my moments, as we all do. I think she read one or two or so, and just recommended the whole series based on that.

misfit, that's the conclusion I've come to as well. And I can't say I like it, because my taste and LG's are not the same. And she reads some long-ass books now. But I'll quit whining and do what I have to do, which is pre-read them anyway.

weetzie, we have recently read a couple of Cornelia Funkes, but the others you mention, I don't know; we'll check them out. Thank you.

kenju, those two flowers are really glorious in their scent. And the book, yep, it's for MUCH later.

mrsDoF, you are preaching to the choir, sistah. I am a HUGE Chinaberry fan. I order LG and myself books and gifts from there. Teacher gifts, too.
So, anyone else looking for GOOD children's books, and a catalog that REALLY describes the books and the ages for which they are ACTUALLY appropriate, check out Mrs. DOF's recommendation.

Blogger Bucky Four-Eyes said...

Whoa, I'm late here but I have to say: I'm a little embarassed by that passage! Jeez!

Blogger ducklet said...

Bravo to you for being an involved parent and setting the boundaries as you feel comfortable. Personally, I won't have a problem with my kids reading from the Alice series before they turn 10, though I won't waste keystrokes here as to why I feel the way I do (interesting that I don't have cable in my house, which I think is far worse an influence than any book...). I think what's important is that it's apparent no matter what your daughter reads, she still feels comfortable coming to you to talk about it. The thing I wouldn't want in my own school district would be for a parent who feels a certain book is inappropriate for his or her child to legislate that decision to other parents who don't have that same concern. I think that's where this kind of thing gets tricky.

of course, i'm usually 100% wrong about everything, so maybe others making decisions for me ain't such a bad thing ;)

Blogger Andrea said...

Re: Patricia MacLachlan...have you heard of Sarah Plain and Tall? That's her. It's also a movie, and it's sequels are too, starring Glenn Close and, strangely enough, Christopher Walken in the only role I've ever seen him in that he was not a creepy guy.

Andrea, your friendly librarian-wannabe

Blogger Jen Spedowfski-Martin said...

I completely agree with you Susie. And the honeysuckle too. I wish my kids could be that free. I think I either had overprotective parents or I was growing up on the brink of all the kidnappings (early 80s) but I never had that freedom. My boys are just bucking for it too.

The other night I watched Pebbles sleeping and cried...because she is not only growing up so fast, but I don't know how I'm going to keep her safe in this world.

But I like how you talked to your daughter about the "little voice" and I remember my parents teaching me this lesson too.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ewwwww, Biscuit!

Spring is my favorite smell.

A book for 10 year olds???? Recommended by a 3rd grade teacher??? Is she on crack?? That sounds like a book high school girls might sneak into the house to read (at least when I was in high school).

What a good relationship you have with your daughter that she could bring it to you because she wasn't comfortable.



Blogger Jomama said...

I've been kinda emotional lately, so I'm trying not to cry thinking about what a great mother you are and how I'm a little jealous of how lucky LG is to have you (I also think J. Rabbit is a great mom too, I lurk on your blog every once in a while). I hope that my future son will feel comfortable enough to talk openly to me. I hid everything from my parents because they never took anything in a positive way. They were very condescending and made me regret I ever said anything and ensured that I never told them anything again. I thought relationships like you and LG's only existed on TV. You two are very lucky to have eachother.

I'm not even going to get into my view on children viewing innapropriate material such as those passages you posted because that is a very personal subject for me (maybe I should post about it). I just hope you notify the teacher about that and I hope she reacts responsibly.

Blogger Susie said...

bucky, I feared that you would be embarrassed. I do apologize.

brando, my "waste keystrokes" remark was for those who would try to change my mind, not for those who would explain their personal choice for their own families. I would welcome that. I will use this occasion to elaborate just a bit on one of many reasons I feel the way I do. Same as in the "hospice porn" story, words can stimulate feelings, both emotional and physical (chemical) for which a third-grader has (I hope) no context, no compartment in which to put them to make them make sense. So those experiences "float" intrusively and invite rumination and compulsive behaviors, all in an effort to process the experience and the change in brain chemistry. And of course, in this case, my daughter was not comfortable with it. And you're right, it is most important that there is open communication; some children may not point out such a passage to their parents, for fear of getting in trouble or having the parent freak out.

The "Alice" series is OK. LG continues to read others, e.g., those labelled "7 and up." The author ostensibly believes that age guidelines are indicated; she doesn't draw the lines in the same place that I do.

I agree with you, I don't want one parent, dictating what is or isn't available to my child. My concern regarding both the teacher and the parents is that they don't know the content of these books. If my neighbor knows what's in the books and still offers them to her 3rd grader, that's not my business; if you were my neighbor and y'all read these selected passages aloud on your deck during family time as you passed around a bottle of Cuervo, that is not my business. My concern is "informed consent," that the teacher know what she's recommending, and that the parents know what their young children are reading. As I've said to other commenters, I think the teacher based her recommendation on the first few books in the series, when "Alice" was the age of the teacher's 3rd graders.

And of course you're not 100% wrong . . . here, I'd say about 33%. But if you want to go somewhere where all the decisions will be made for you, I can help you with that ;)

andrea, silly me. Of course I know the Sarah P&T books; I just wasn't recognizing the author's name.

jen, thank you. It is tough, that growing up thing that they insist upon doing.

gina, yea, the more people comment here, the more I'm appreciating that. I would not have done so at her age.

JOMAMA!, thank you, and you are far too generous with your praise. I occasionally get something right. I also mess up quite a lot. You might want to think about blogging the experiences you're thinking of. As you've seen in blogworld, most experiences that anyone writes about strike a chord in others.

Anonymous La Pix said...

Now THAT there's some KISKASS blogging. Start with mysterious theme, talk about dog's butt, then relay hilarious church story, drift into memories, of honeysuckle no less... and an appreciation for the kind of freedom and safety that all kids want but only some kids have, and then memories of how imperfect people really are, in certain situations...and how that etches itself into the mind of a child, and then BLAMMO, hit us with an outrage. But then reassure us by simply describing how your family deals with outrages, and how well you write about the dealings... and that maybe your child faces a different workd than you did, but she is handling it in ways that help you keep her safe, and most of all in ways that help you know she has a will toward childhood preservation (and I don't mean virginity - I mean preservation of childhood) and then you add your sense of perspective, which means even if it was an outrage you're not fixed on retaliation and you're not laying a guilt trip on yourself or anyone that it happened, but that it's renewed your sense of responsibility to nourish that conscience and guide it. That you don't just vent and then say whatever and clap off into bitter end-of-vent silence. And then you follow it all up with that reference to honeysuckle again, focusing on the kinds of freedom and safety of childhood that you ARE able to help build for your child, and that she is helping you maintain it.

I try to bring my best self with me to every situation with the idea of, hey, how can I contribute in a positive way. But I'm not yet able to bring my whole self with me, the part that says "That's an outrage." I can do the perspective part, I can work toward positive outcomes. But I am seeing over time, and your post makes me see it clearly, that I need to be able to be more present, less judgmental of my "bad" feelings. The positive outcome part is more likely to happen if I can know and say what I feel.

Anonymous La Pix said...

LOL - I am laughing so hard at the typo. Looks like Kiss Ass. Hilarious.

But I promise I'm not kissing ass, I'm learning here and just being honest about it :)

Blogger Susie said...

oh, la pix, thank you for all of this. First, for the laugh. Actually, you created a hybrid term KISKASS, part KICKASS, part KISSASS! I read it and just for a moment, thought DAMN! Another cool blogging term that I don't know the meaning of: KISKASS! Actually, it is some A.D.D. blogging -- I do tend to wander from shiny thing to shiny thing.

And for the term, "childhood preservation." Yes, absolutely; I believe strongly in that.

I think I understand the process you're describing. "Bitter end-of-vent" silence doesn't suit me well, in blogworld or real world.

And thank you for the description of your growth process. I think I get what you're saying. I am much more opinionated than I used to be about many things; at the same time, I am less judgmental than I once was. I have had to get comfy with negative emotions. With talking about and processing them, including my own negative behaviors and my negative reactions to others' behaviors. There is nothing wrong with any of these things. What is key is how we respond to the tarnished in ourselves and in others. We don't have to endorse, or even accept EVERYTHING. It's OK for some things not to be OK with us. And it's OK for us to say so, in a way that does not diminish our own or others' integrity.

Blogger laurenbove said...

Susie: I love gardenias too...doggie toots? Not so much....

You must check out my posts after yours. You wont believe what I found out. It relates to your prediction.

Blogger laurenbove said...

OMG: BTW: I cannot believe that book was recommended for third graders. I don't think I'd want to see it in elementary school at all!

I must get a library copy and check it out. (no pun intended.)

Blogger Kitty said...

My favorite smell that reminds me of childhood is hyacinths. Mom had a whole garden of them right outside my bedroom window and each spring morning I would wake to that smell.

The last hyacinth I had was a present to me from my now ex-fiance. A present given only days before he walked out the door and never came back.

It smelled great as it plummeted 7 stories down to the concrete walkway below my living room window.

I'm so happy LG is so fortunate to have such a great Mom like you! It takes a lot of work to maintain a level of comfortability to where a young girl can approach and discuss a topic as sensitive as that. I loved that about my Mom (cuz I felt the same way at 9 and now) and it was just that which kept me out of a lot of trouble as I grew older.

Blogger Boarder Girl said...

What I would like to know is did you talk to LG's teacher?? What did she have to say???

Blogger lawbrat said...

Susie- I got your email, and I emailed you.

Blogger Greenthumb said...

White Shoulders always makes my heart rush. My grandmother wore that and it will evoke the strongest emotional jolt for me. That and any old lady with blue hair. XO

Blogger Annejelynn said...

I remember when I got my hands on my mother's DH Lawrence collection - OMG - have you ever read DH Lawrence? I remember also when I found out my mother-in-law's favorite author was DH Lawrence...I knew she and I would get along. I miss her sometimes, even though we never got that close and then of course, the fact that I left her son didn't help things.

Blogger marybishop said...


Blogger vicki said...

Susie- this is a wonderfully rich post- first the smells and then the rant and then the link back to hospice porn. I loved it all.

I could get started, once again,on my frustration over the focus on sex without the context of relationship and the fact that our children get exposed to it way too much way too early...

It is nice that LG comes to you with
her questions and concerns; it gives you the room to put your wisdom into play above and beyond what sshe finds out in the world.

Blogger echrai said...

Um, eek?! I've heard about the Alice books, but only very generally and I've never even LOOKED at them myself. Now I'm tempted to just so I can burn them. And I hate bookburners! 10 and up? That's unconscionable! I mean, I read books that weren't exactly appropriate for my age range - I was about that age when I first read Piers Anthony - and Shakespeare. Between the two, I found a decent amount of innuendo and raunchy jokes... most of which passed entirely over my head until I was older. But this, there's no mistaking this. Ugh.

Blogger Nina said...

Well it takes a lot to shock me. Those passages being in a book meant for children did. I guess there are pluses to having my children all grown and gone. I will mention this to my daughter who plans to teach 2nd grade. In her Children’s Literature class they read different children’s books. I think she would have said something had it been one of those books.

Your daughter already has a very competent conscience, you should be very proud of her and of her parents who have done a really great job.

Blogger d said...

My daughter is 10, she is also the kind of kid that would bring something like that to me. But...I WOULD DIE!!! The school would be getting a very nasty call.

When I was 10, I would have ripped that passage out of the library book and kept it under my bed, perhaps show my friends. I'm so glad my kid is nothing like me when I was a kid.

Blogger Susie said...

laurenbove, I checked out your Cruise control posts (or Cruise out-of-control), good work! And yea, I wouldn't miss "Alice" if she left the library, but that's just me.

kitty, I enjoyed the vicarious smell of your falling hyacinth. They smell like spring to me -- 'cept yours must have smelled like fall! Pwahhaahaahhaha! Sorry. I hope LG and I stay close like you and your mom.

boarder girl, school is out, and teachers are scarce. I have emailed her, just to give her a "heads up" about what's in those later Alice books. I do think that was the issue -- the ones she saw were fine, but the later ones in the series were not appropriate for 3rd grade.

greenthumb, that makes me wish I could stick with a "signature" scent, but I have smell A.D.D., get bored and run to another scent. I'm headed for the blue hair, though.

annejelynn, I think Lady Chatterley's Lover is all I've read; not in 3rd grade, though ;) My ex-sisters-in-law are still quite close to my mom. Which I think is odd, but nice.

MB, TY :)

vicki, thank you for that kind comment. I, too, am disturbed by the "sex everywhere" with no context of relationship.

echrai, "ugh" kind of remains my reaction, too. But put down that lighter!

nanina, thank you, I am very proud of LG, which probably comes across here from time to time ;) She is a wonderful kid. I guess I would just caution your daughter about giving a blanket "okie dokie" to a series without seeing how far the series goes.

d, my kid is very much like me, in ways that delight me, and in ways that scare the hell out of me. And welcome, I don't think I've seen you here before :)

Blogger momo said...

I read this the other day and was outraged by this.
I would totally talk to the teacher. She needs to be more aware of what she is recommending to her students. I just want you to know that I think you handled it very well. I'm not so sure I wouldn't have freaked out.


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