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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Tangoing with Elephants (Children Mentioned)

Since the kids were born, we've been pushing our broad-minded, free loving agenda down their throats with (gasp!) books that celebrate all forms of family building as well as all cultures. Not only can they recite the ingredients for Bee Bim Bop but we've poisoned their minds with the environmental propaganda of the Lorax. We're molding our kids in our sustainable-Judaism-with-a-sprinkling-of-Quaker-philosophy image. Farm work? Bread baking? Why don't we just dress them in Commie red and call it a day?

At least according to an article in Galleycat this week. Our children's favourite book has come under fire and is apparently, according to the ALA, the most challenged book of 2006. It's unsurprising that it is one of our family favourites considering our nauseating levels of inclusivity and our tendency to poison our children with not only acceptance but celebration of all people. Josh emailed me the Galleycat story with a horrified "Save Tango!" Save Tango indeed--and keep him all to ourselves if people out there can't appreciate a fantastic book with gorgeous pictures that celebrates a family coming together (though it's nice to see that And Tango Makes Three has bumped Catcher in the Rye from its semi-constant spot on the ALA's list).

We are Tango lovers. Plain and simple. We have a small chick stuffed animal that looks like Tango and my son holds her while I read the book, squeezing her tummy to produce a static-y chirping sound when Tango bursts from her egg (though I'll admit this only to you--even though the real Tango is a girl and I just used female pronouns, for some reason, we refer to Tango as male in our house). We have spoken about taking a trip to the Central Park Zoo to see Roy and Silo (thank you, penguins, for all looking alike so we can point to any two random penguins and claim we have found our pair--though I heard rumours through a friend that Roy and Silo split up. I think she's just talking trash). It's sort of sad that other children will miss out on this story--especially when it drives home the idea of how much some parents want their children.

And on that front, we have an excellent new book that we've been reading a lot as of late. We got a copy of Carolina Nadel's Mommy, Was Your Tummy Big? which also comes in a donor insemination version called Daddy, Was Mommy's Tummy Big? You can read the book online by going to Carolina Nadel's website and clicking "next" after each page (look to the right of the picture). It explains donor egg to children and my thought was to allow the twins to write their own review. But so far, all I could get from them was this thoughtful critique:

Dadaist Book Review with Girl and Boy

Melissa: What was the funniest thing about the book?
Boy: I need to read it to you!
Girl: I want a book too!
Boy: I'm going to read to myself.
Melissa: But what was the funniest part of the book?
Boy: It's so funny when he says, "did you eat the egg?" Did you eat the egg? No!
Melissa: Did you like this book?
Girl: It was just a pretend egg. The elephant didn't eat the egg. But they were very sad.
Boy: I eat eggs. I don't eat eggs. That's why I need to read it again. I need to read it again, Mommy. I need to read it again.
Melissa: But did you like the book?
Boy: I like the colours. I love it because it's funny. It's so funny. Did you eat the egg?

The book is great. It's very simple and the pictures are gorgeous. I think even more telling is the fact that my children immediately asked me to start over from the beginning at the end of the first reading. There is a real dearth of books about family building that extend past straight adoption. This, of course, is important if you subscribe to the philosophy that children should be introduced in an age-appropriate manner to their unique conception starting at birth so there is never a day that they learn they were conceived via IVF or donor gametes or entered the family through adoption. We started telling them about their conception back when they were in the NICU and I love that my children tell me, "you waited a long time for me! You really wanted to be a Mommy."

It's important to me that my children know that they weren't simply a step on a common path: marriage, parenthood, retirement. They were not people we created simply because it was the next logical step. They were very wanted and we were willing to go through anything and go anywhere to create our family.

There are those who think that it's wrong that we're exposing our children to concepts like family building at age three. But it's not only a concept that we're comfortable we're covering in an age-appropriate manner, but it's a concept that we think is imperative to teach if we're going to make open-minded, bleeding-heart offspring in our image. After all, what the world needs now is love, sweet love. Not a bunch of parents writing formal complaints to the ALA about a children's book.

10 comments:

serenity said...

Maybe I'm completely stupid.

But what I don't get is how a story about two penguins adopting an egg and raising it is "anti-family."

I wish I could verbalize how angry I get at this kind of ignorance. All that happens is that I just want to scream "You people suck."

Because, you know. If parents spent as much time TEACHING their kids as they do crusading against opening their minds, we'd have a lot more well-adjusted kids.

Piece said. Getting off soapbox now.

Stacie said...

Serenity, if you are stupid, so am I. I just don't get it.

I would LOVE, however, a toddler appropriate book on IVF. Anyone? Anyone?

calliope said...

or how about a donor sperm book for single mothers...

Natalie said...

I think I'm going to forward this post along to my husband. He and I don't agree on whether we should be telling our young kids about how they were conceived - he thinks it doesn't really matter, or shouldn't come into play with them - I think it should just be a part of who they are and they should know that we tried very hard for them. I don't think it should be like telling them "you're different than everyone else" - but more just "this is how it is. everyone came from different things. isn't that cool?"

Ahhh, I don't think I'm making any sense.

Suz said...

I love this book! I wish that there was one as good that was appropriate for us.

Michell said...

I think it's important to teach children about family building (especially when you are using it) since they need to understand acceptance of others who are different than they are and if they are "different" because of donor eggs, sperm or two moms etc they need to know that it's all ok although there will be those who will teach them it's not. I also think it's important to do this from the time they are little rather than drop it on them at age 16 and say here, this was how it happened.
I agree with Serenity, I don't get how having 2 loving parents of the same sex is anti-family.

r.a.w. said...

Honestly, what is wrong with people?? And WHEN these treatments finally work for us, our child(ren) will know that we wanted them so badly it hurt and that we are so happy to have s/he in our family. They won't just be some happy accident. They are what we have dreamed of always.

Bea said...

I get bored with these complaints sometimes. I wonder if people know how they sound?

Bea

Rebecca said...

I think it's lovely that your kids already know that. That they know just how special and wanted they are :)

katd said...

There are tons of books out there about traditional adoption, so why not books for kids on other forms of adoption, insemination, infertility, etc.? To me, the more children are exposed to "other" ways of doing things (creating a family, other cultures), the more open, accepting, and well-rounded little people they will be.