Why I Am an Asshole

You know how sometimes your mother (perhaps) said, "Don't you use that tone of voice."?
And how (perhaps) you said back, "I'm not using any tone! God! I was just talking!"
Does this ring any bells?
See, I have this problem. This problem of allowing my the part of me that is snarky and mocking to rear its, uh, voice, when I'm
reading books I think are a little drippy to my kids.
This is not a good thing. There is no excuse for this. Well, maybe
there's a little excuse, like when it used to happen when I was reading
the books of my avowed enemy, Strawberry Shortcake. Then, I felt I was doing
a service. Cutting
the sugar on that thing seems like it must have been to the benefit of

But then there's this:


This is the story of Rosa, a little girl whose head was shaped like a square.

This is a good, a worthy book. It tries—and succeeds!—in communicating its message that through courage, confidence, and compassion we can accept ourselves, and have others accept us. It also has the excellent look-and-find thing going on throughout the illustrations. I am so in favor of this book. Except….

except that every time I read it, and I wade into the goopy, well-meaning text, I can't seem to stop myself: I get the tone. The slightly too-sweet, ironic mocking tone that a mother should probably never ever ever use when reading a well-meaning, moral-high-ground type of story to her children. It's as if one time I just got the sense that Little Squarehead was, you know, kind of a funny idea, now that idea lives insidiously in my brain and I can never banish it.

Years and years (and years!) ago, when I went with my sisters to see Presumed Innocent, we got to the scene where Harrison Ford is arguing his heartfelt case against the mean child abuser who put her child's head in a vise. Yes, this is unspeakably awful. BUT. To argue it, he asks the girl what happened, and she said, "My mommy hurt my head."

"Yes," the Harrison Ford guy intones, "think about it. My mommy hurt my head. My mommy hurt my head." And then again, if memory serves, with the totally (appropriately! I know!) serious face he turns to the jury and says again, "My mommy hurt my head." And somehow I was struck with how weird and funny it seemed to me to watch serious Harrison Ford saying over and over, "My mommy hurt my head" and I started laughing and couldn't stop and had to leave the theater.

Clearly, this is a case of a bad attitude, or worse.

Sometimes I am so glad that this blog is pretty anonymous.

10 thoughts on “Why I Am an Asshole

  1. This made me laugh out loud. I kept thinking that The Diamond in the Window was feeling extra sharp and glinty today! And I liked it. I’m not sure, actually, WHY you even have to read aloud THOSE books, anyway. Who has the time, really? Maybe you need to balance it all out with a bit of Roald Dahl or Edward Gorey?
    And by the way, your anonymity is just so darn intriguing.


  2. Hehe, I know just what you mean! Sometimes when I’m reading *those* books I kind of forget that I’m not supposed to be reading them snarkily and have to rein myself in when I realize that my poor daughter actually takes that drivel seriously!


  3. Little Squarehead? Honestly, how could you be expected to read something titled Little Squarehead with a straight face? I’m not familiar with the book, and believe you when you say it’s worthy, but, yeah. Of course, I laughed my self right out of the theater during Terms of Endearment and giggled through Ghost, so it’s probably me…..


  4. Bwahaha! What a great post 🙂 I did the same thing in the middle of Ordinary People: had to leave the theater because I couldn’t stop laughing. All the angst! Geez.


  5. And Little Squarehead is the victim from the Harrison Ford movie, right?
    Could they really not think of a more (I mean less!) ridiculous personal characteristic for their moral tale? Green skin, for goodness sake. Or an extra eye.


  6. See, you’re really nice, because I don’t even try. Much.
    I, um, even editorialized when I had to read that disgusting Littlest Pet Shop Goes to School book.


  7. You are a better person than I (so, if anyone’s the asshole, it’s me). Little Squarehead?! Bahahaha! I had the same thought as Madeleine, too.


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