The other day, our granddaughter came home from school and asked my husband to ask her to spell I cup. He obliged. “I see you pee.” She giggled. This was apparently the height of grade one humor that day. My husband retaliated with this. “I got a new book from the library. It’s called Rusty Bed Springs by I. P. Nightly.”
Of course she didn’t get it. She didn’t have a clue about bedsprings—in fact, neither did our daughter. Only we elderly can bring up a mental picture of an old cot we had when we were kids and see the springs the joke refers to.
This exchange got me thinking about the circumstances that determine each generations’ experiences and the memories they will have of their childhoods. And it’s not just jokes and mental pictures of what we grew up with.
Without getting into the whole sphere of technology that has dramatically changed how we live and interact, I’d like to focus on books. I read to my granddaughter daily, and she reads to me, Slinky Malinki and Stickybeak Syd, Take Away the A, The Day the Crayons Quit, OH NO! (or how my science project destroyed the world), The Girl Who Hated Books….
Her bookshelves are full of wonderful tales, but there’s nary a “Once upon a time” to be found. And if you’re looking for a prince to rescue the damsel in distress—forget it. At the bookstore the other day, I looked, out of curiosity, for some of the fairy tales of my youth. Were the stores still stocking them? Were people still buying them? I found one, but that was it.
That’s not to say, my granddaughter has no classics, for on her shelves you’ll find Madeline, The Pokey Little Puppy, Corduroy, and a few Dr. Seuss which she loves and—is it sacrilege to say?—that I can’t stand
I sometimes feel nostalgic for those fairy tales of my youth and the memories I cherish. Back then, I loved the “Once upon a time…” opening for it meant a journey into magic and adventure.
But, for my granddaughter’s sake, I’m glad they are not on her shelves. I’m glad she’s reading about independent girls who can fend for themselves. I’m glad she’ll have different memories to cherish, stories of strong and self-reliant girls for that, I believe, is the greatest gift we adults can give our daughters and granddaughters.