Jessica came home with a stack of new books to read a couple days ago. Usually she has time to browse through to make sure they're okay, but we either forgot or didn't have time, and that was a mistake. For bedtime I offered to read Art a couple new books, and one we chose was called "Benny and the Binky". I'm still pissed about it how awful and scary it was for Art.
The basic story is this little kid named Benny (actually, a pig) about Art's age has a new little brother and Benny wants the binky. So he swipes it from his brother and runs away. "He's not supposed to do that," said Art. No, he's not. But I read on thinking ok, no big deal, I'm sure something funny or redeeming will happen.
Then, Benny runs into three very mean looking bully pigs who tease him for using the binky. They say if he doesn't stop using it they're going to hit him in the face. I read this to Art but watered it down considerably. "bump him in the face," I said, and "they're just being silly". But it didn't matter, Art was scared and starting to sniffle. As I turned the page there was this horribly drawing of one of the pigs nailing Benny in the mouth and the binky was flying out. It confused and frightened Art and he started to get really scared and cry. I immediately said they were just pretending and quickly skipped past the page and flipped to the end where Benny and his brother were happy back with their mama. "Why did they hit Benny?" he said, scared. I didn't know and tried to explain it was just a pretend story and that nobody was actually hit and that Benny got his binky back in the end and everyone was happy.
Because Art often looks at the blog with us I don't wanna risk posting a photo from the book here. But I will link to it. Click here to see the bullies hitting Benny.
I honestly can't figure out what the author was thinking. You get punished when you do mean things to your brother? That using a pacifier longer than your supposed to will cause bad things to happen? I dunno.
I have worked hard to protect Art from the reality that the world is often a mean and confusing place. I want him to be four, to not worry about bullies or mean people, to not have fear of being hurt. In some ways the book we read scared me, too. Art is so fragile and feels so deeply, and I can already feel the real world creeping in on his little fourness. I want to protect and shield him from all things bad, and of course I can't. He couldn't bear that Benny got hit and his gackoo taken away. "Papa, will you never read that bad book again?" he said through sniffles. "We will never ever read it again."