There’s a bulletin board in the hallway of my school, and it has a display of drawings my students did before I came here. They drew their dreams, and clearly they all had different ideas of what a dream is…not surprising, adults do too. Some of them drew themselves sleeping in their beds, and that was them dreaming. Some drew the images that roll across the inside of their eyelids when they are asleep, and that was them dreaming. Some drew a night sky, and that was them dreaming. One boy drew a burning house with men with guns, and a cross on fire.

That was his dream, too.

I’ve been watching my husband try out a few new games lately because he got a trial gamefly subscription. He likes a lot of different stuff and there have been kid games and some that are maybe not. That’s the point. There’s this one where a muscle-bound vampire sucks blood from chained and ragged victims to gain energy. I’ve got to admit it made me uneasy to watch. The sound effects were pretty visceral.

One of my favorite books when I was twelve was Dracula by Bram Stoker. I also loved Gone With The Wind and The Count of Monte Cristo.

There are ragged, chained victims, rape scenes, murder, the undead, injustice, revenge,seduction and all manner of violence at the soul of those books. I would recommend them to any child.

I don’t know if I’d let my future little boy play Grand Theft Auto.

Why?

When you read you sit in the passenger’s seat. When the character does something you experience it, you might not even see it coming, you might be the girl with the vampire’s teeth at your neck suddenly, when you weren’t ready for it. You might be carried up the stairs and raped by your own husband because you crossed him one too many times. You might plot to kill the man who had you thrown in prison and stole your fiance. You’d do it, too.

Is that better than screwing a prostitute in the backseat of a car in GTA because you chose to hit that button?

Does the fact that it’s written down make it intrinsically more meaningful and not-evil?

When I was fifteen I read through all of Shakespeare. Titus Andronicus thrilled me to the core. I told my mom about it. That guy killed a little boy and fed him to his own mother baked in a pie. She said she wasn’t sure I should be reading that. I said it’s Shakespeare! She said does that make it right, because it’s Shakespeare?

Yes. Yes, it does. If I saw that in a video game would I be horrified? You bet.

I’m going to have to leave this here without coming to a conclusion because I don’t have one. I’m not sure if I could ever know my own child well enough to sense when he was ready for something like that. What if he dreamt of guns and fire in the attic? My heart would break. Is it just your love that matters, a safe place in the world for a child, a distinction between fantasy and reality, right and wrong?

On a similar but sort-of-different topic, I’ve been doodling a little amorphous bear creature and my husband suggested I write a children’s book around him. I really like that idea. However, I am faced with a completely foggy idea of what a good story would be. I’m trying to remember what books I liked as a kid.

  • I liked repeating phrases
  • I liked animals
  • I liked monsters
  • Especially monsters so big you could only see their bottom half on the page
  • I liked intricate drawings with detail it took you hours to see all of
  • I liked it when the main character was in terrible danger
  • but escaped miraculously

There will be a monster. A big one. My creature will be in terrible danger but will escape miraculously. He will bake a cake.

Now I just have to fill in the spaces.

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