I have a confession: I have never read Anne of Green Gables. Nor have I read many other books I probably was supposed to in school. Although, to be honest, none of these were on any reading lists for school. I was one of those annoying people who even as a kid could skim a book, catch it’s drift, take a test on it and get an A somehow. This was particularly helpful since eI don’t care for most of the books we had to read. “The Crucible,” anyone? What the hell was that all about anyway? I did enjoy The Catcher in the Rye, The Scarlet Ibis and in college, The Heart of Darkness. And thats about all that I remember. Oh wait, All Quiet on the Western Front was good. So too was the one about the future where the houses go on but the people are gone. Whatever that was. I also read Shakespeare but mostly that was on my own and I don’t remember most of it. Lot of good my public school education was.
Well, even I, who lives under a rock, has heard the general rumblings against the newest incarnation of a television or movie version of Anne of Green Gables. Supposedly it is very dark and takes away from the original Christian leanings of the story. My own friend Anne wrote an excellent diatribe against the whole thing on her blog Preventing Grace.
“Somehow, in the great messy landscape of books written for young girls, Montgomery invented a world where grace for the frailty of the human person, kindness and forgiveness, and love of beauty breathe out of every page.” Anne Carlson Kennedy on Preventing Grace
Click through and read it now. I’ll wait….
Welcome back 🙂
I subsequently came across this article discussing an entirely different point of view in regards to the story. In this, the author uses the story to illustrate the difference between the value of children then and now and uses it as a basis for why we have a declining birth rate. Which honestly is confusing, because so many people rail against large families because we are told that our resources must be conserved and that large families are not “environmentally friendly” to which I say hogwash, but whatever. I do agree with the author on the usefulness of children however and the general uselessness of most children today.
Lest you think I do not value children, let me define uselessness: lacking productive helpfulness. Yes, for some people who delight in driving all over God’s green earth (hence the not environmentally friendly accusations) to sports/other activities all so their children can be “well rounded” and “busy” , children are useful for apparently spending all of your money and time and energy and perhaps bestowing you with a couple of time limited cohorts to commiserate with. However, if you prefer your children to be productive people who actually help with running a household rather than creating messes and havoc and leaving a trail of misery in every room, good luck.
I can’t say this from a point of nostalgia because I have never experienced a life of hardworking children who contribute to rather than simply take from a household. I myself, was raised in a house where chores were never expected and I thought that a fairy kept the house clean because I don’t remember my mom cleaning much yet everything was neat and clean. At some point in high school I recall being tasked with dusting and thought I might die while doing it (although I could run at least half way around the track at that point without doing so). I was inspired to get a job at 14 however, by a friend whose wardrobe I admired one day as I gazed into her closet full of the coolest jeans. She told me she worked for them. I had no idea you could do that. So the second I turned 14, off I went to get my working papers and I’ve held a job ever since. My parents always provided the basics along with some occasional “cool” things but buying things myself with my own money was the best thing ever. I definitely learned the value of money and although I wasn’t great at thrifting back then I did fall in love with bargain places like Bradley’s (does this even exist anymore?). Still, this didn’t make me particularly useful to my parents. I still lived at home, didn’t do any chores and they fed me daily.
With my first round of children, my house was usually a mess and I didn’t know how to cook much other than spaghetti and that only after a few years when I finally begged my mom to show me how to make her recipe. Then I divorced, had an apartment, then shared an apartment, then lived in my parents basement while attending grad school and never had time to make children do chores or really the need. My son learned to cook more out of neglect than anything else. If I was busy and you wanted to eat you’d better figure it out. He is today an excellent cook at 22. He also has been industrious, finding odd jobs such as collecting crap metal with a friend, providing labor, helping his father with projects and even helped my current husband install our kitchen floor while I was pregnant with his little sisters. He is quite the handy man and not afraid to work. I believe he takes after me since he has both a brain (he’s a chemistry major) and an innate drive to be productive and industrious. I will take credit for that at least. My daughter on the other hand, is more the typical product of a child centered household. She became the field hockey queen, being signed up for travel teams and played year round for 4 years of high school. She has never held a job other than babysitting her little sisters (which she does a fine job of) and now on summer vacation hasn’t been able to procure employment. She hasn’t a clue about managing money because the only money she has to manage is what she is given to spend on clothes and whatever. She is taking out loans for college (including room and board) and she has a career plan that necessitates a doctoral degree which means her student loan will be her mortgage once she is finally (hopefully) employed. Mom’s calculations as to the relative final amount of this path was not enough to persuade her to attend college locally because, you might guess, there is no field hockey at the local colleges. Having not a sports loving cell in my body I cannot begin to understand this. That’s a lot of shekels to play a game. I guess I could write another post or ten about student loans and college costs but there are already plenty out there. Google it. It sucks. Anyway…
I will say that both of my older children responded well to discipline and are fairly well mannered and not terribly embarrassing adults/almost adults. My son still shrinks away when I pull out the big white Pampered Chef spoon I used to spank him with. That sucker is worth its weight in gold. Best. Kitchen. Gadget. Ever. They are both pursuing college degrees with careers in mind that should be lucrative
So this is going to be a long post I am realizing so I think I will do this in two parts. What do you think of children and their usefulness? Should kids have jobs? Do/did yours? Did you? Did you ever read Anne of Green Gables? Watch any of the TV/movie adaptations? Have an opinion? Did you read the linked blog posts? What did you think?
come back to read part deux about the second round of people I am raising (and failing at so far) and what we might want to do to change the current child “culture” books I’ve never read and anything else that comes to mind.