File under: Literary ideas that should have gone unrealized.
A kids’ book based on the verses of Ecclesiastes 3:1.
The text starts with “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the Heaven.”
Sounds innocent enough. But you know what comes next. Unless you’re Biblically illiterate. Which, of course, I am. Or was, until I read this book. I mean, look, I know the Byrds song. Or at least the “Turn, turn, turn” part. But I’ve never been good with lyrics. I get them wrong all the time. “Hold me closer, Chinese dancer” is only one example. I have been known — repeatedly — to forget words to songs I wrote myself.
The point of all this? I really didn’t suspect what was coming next until MJ and I turned the page together and saw:
“What’s that man doing, Mommy?” asked Myra-Jean.
I thought fast. “Tickling the other guy’s neck. With a feather. Silly.”
MJ grunted. “Read the words.”
I frowned. “Uh, it says ‘there’s a time to tickle, and a time to drink water.'” I quickly turned the page.
“A time to love,” I went on, “and –” Yikes. Really? Babynapping? You want to let that horse out of the barn? “A time to …play with dolls? But I don’t think he’s sharing.”
MJ yawned, and turned the page.
“What’s that?” she asked, as a scene of battle unfolded before us.
“Horse party. With sticks.” I said. This was getting easier. As long as you left logic out of it.
I skimmed past the next few pages, stopping at the end. “Almost done,” I said brightly. “‘A time to –‘”
Oh. Uh-oh. I stopped.
“What?” asked Myra-Jean impatiently.
“A time to live…” I said doubtfully, then paused again.
MJ jabbed her finger at the picture. “What else? What is that lady doing?”
“She’s, um, bowing. To the wolf man.”
“Who’s the wolf man?” asked MJ, turning and looking at me skeptically.
I sighed. “Do you want to get a different story?
She did. Thank God.
The next day I donated the book to the local library. Let them deal with it. Maybe they’ll find someone who wants to address every troubling existential question in one bedtime sitting. Me? I’m putting those conversations off as long as humanly possible. In the meantime? I just want to keep my kid entertained. And make her think, sure. But about cute things. Ducks. Kittens. Rain puddles. Miniature poodles. Bento boxes of appealingly shaped snacks.
As for bloodbaths? Maybe when she’s in grade school. Until then I’m sticking with board books.
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