Fascinations and anxieties

Maybe we are doing this whole socialization thing wrong, sending tiny children off to daycare and preschool everyday with a lunchbox.  The goal of socialization is to help individuals become acceptable to the group, to interact in the culture according to the norms and customs of behavior.

The preschool lunchroom is much like Afghanistan, "the graveyard of empires".  So many bad manners and disgusting dining habits lurk there if the adults finally win one encounter, the insurgents will regroup at the next table.  Over there they will quickly learn from their peers new revolting habits like telling nonsensical jokes with their mouths full of food and getting their drink straws to squeak with great volume.

The mothers of my neighborhood had a different battle plan--Shock And Awe.  One day Mom would go to the dentist and leave her little darling at the home of the Crabby Lady.  In one short lunchtime the scared little darling would learn that it is never okay to:
  • Chew with your mouth open
  • Leave the crusts uneaten
  • Talk with your mouth full
  • Eat too slow
Only a total fool would ask the Crabby Lady to cut the peel off her apple slices.  The Crabby Lady had a cage in her basement laundry room for little children who did.  You could peek behind the curtain and see it hanging from the ceiling under the clothes chute.  The Crabby Lady's big kids would invite you to play hide and seek in the basement, and take a very long time to find you.  They would show you tiny Japanese shoes and talk about girls with bound feet, or tell about whirling dervishes who never stopped spinning.  Quicksand was another favorite topic.  There were pictures by Grandma Moses on the basement wall that had nothing to do with the baby in the bullrushes.  Sometimes the big kids would sit in the dark on the cold linoleum tiles very close to the tv and watch "The Battle of the Bulge" or "The Twilight Zone" with its gigantic mutant ants.

How wonderful it was when Mom returned from the dentist with smiling shiny teeth!  How splendid to go home and take a nice nap!  And no, the little darling never chewed with her mouth open again. 

Cyclamen, or whirling dervish?

© 2010 Nancy L. Ruder


Kathleen said...

Cyclamen AND whirling dervish. (I didn't type that with my mouth open.)

Collagemama said...

Good, because you might have to eat tuna fish instead of peanut butter!


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