Monday, September 13, 2010

The Curiousities of Curious George

This is George.
He was a good little monkey and always very curious.

Thus begins the tale of a cute little monkey surrounded by bright colors and with a happy smile. It seems like a great little childrens series. Some people (who will remain nameless) even think of decorating a whole room based on pictures like the above for those reasons. And once one picks a theme, one runs with it. Right? Now, we'll take these 'people' and look at them two years down the road. After multiple readings of the adventures of that cute, silly little monkey, we're they're rethinking their decision.

Consider 'Curious George Goes to the Aquarium'. In this tale our furry little friend is too impatient to wait for his friend to purchase tickets, so he hops the wall and goes in without the man in the yellow hat. Strike one. He then proceeds to wander around oblivious to rules and regulations. Puts his fingers in a crab tank 'Snap! Ouch! Poor George. He did not like this exhibit.' Really? First of all if one gets their finger snapped by a crab, from what I understand it's no small owie. Second, how does on one see a monkey wandering around by himself and yelling ouch? I suppose for the sake of the book I can suspend reality a little, but I'm already suspect. After the crab tank George wanders out to find the penguin exhibit. He promptly climbs in the exhibit and plays with the penguins. Then when he gets busted by the aquarium staff he tries to run away. He opens a door which lets all the penguins out. 'The staff was angry at George.' You think? But never fear, our little monkey isn't in too much trouble. He saves a baby penguin who fell in the water. 'The director thanked George for his help and made him an hnorary staff member of the aquarium.'

So, what does this teach my children? If you wander away from the adult in charge and cause all kinds of a mess it's ok as long as you finish the day by doing one good thing. In fact not only will the one good deed make up for all the messes, you'll also be handsomely rewarded. Read some other Curious George stories, they present the same kind of plot scheme.

I still think the little monkey is one of the cutest little guys ever. And I have a particular affinity for monkies in general (take Stanton for example. Just kidding Sweetie!). But I'm not sure I want to keep reading these stories to my kids.

This brings me to another parenting question? How much of those undertones does a kid pick up? At what age do they put pieces together to make conclusions like I did two paragraphs above? When does a book stop just being an interesting story and start being applicable to real life? One of my friends both in real life and in blogland recently posted an intriguing picture about the Disney princesses.
I don't really agree with all these ideas. In fact, I think some of them are very contradictory to the movie ideas. In any event, I certainly didn't come away with these types of thinking when I watched them when I was younger. But do some girls develop some kind of complex from the princesses?

How much do our kids try to translate fairy tales in to real life?


  1. I grew up on Curious George and Amelia Bedila. I learned how not to behave from them. When I teach rules in my classroom I teach how not to act just as much as I teach the right thing to do. If Curious George is paired with strong parenting and discussion about rules, I see no reason for him to be anything more than a silly little monkey!
    I also grew up watching every single one of those Disney princesses and what I learned from them was that dreams were powerful. I loved singing the songs and I was confident that my voice was just as beautiful as theirs! I have struggled all my life with body image, but I have never once thought those struggles came from Disney. Those girls were a symbol of strength to me - not a symbol of my need for a man. They taught me to hold out for a man who would move mountains to win my heart.
    Maybe it was because I had strong, Christ-centered parents that instilled a belief in inner beauty. Maybe it was because Disney's not as terrible as some make it out to be. I just know that through and through I believe I am a beautiful person even though I struggle daily with what I see in the mirror.
    OK - that was a whole blog in and of itself. I'm sorry... I'll step off my soap box and go inhale another cup of coffee. :)

  2. Good words Allison! Sounds like you received the right balance of fun stories and truth.
    I just plan on not letting Sean grow up, or read. =) He will stay 18lbs forever! hahaha

    Surely if our kids are flooded with the Truth the things that oppose the truth will be recognized as that. And even the little ones can point out, “that wasn’t nice of him, was it mommy?” or “bad monkey!” haha =) I guess the reassuring thing for me is that I’m not the first. Not the first to question my ideas on raising children. I’m glad we can ‘think out loud’ on these subjects. This is only the beginning!