Friday, June 26, 2009
Paris horror in the playground!
I'm in Vancouver today and will be heading over soon to my daughter's house. My sister's visiting from Winnipeg, driving my mom each day over to her radiation session (I'm taking a turn next week), and she thought it would be a pleasant diversion for mom to visit her great-grandchild on the way to the Cancer Clinic. I'm looking forward to seeing my little Nola and to having the generations mix it up again. The day's mix of the gruesome (the radiation treatment) and the joyous puts me in mind of this children's playground in the Jardin des Plantes in Paris. Somehow, I just can't imagine our North American kids being expected to romp merrily next to this particular statue. Want a close-up?
Now admittedly the bear is vanquished in this scenario and the man triumphs, but I suspect censorship and child psychologists would prevail here and the nudity and violence would be moved to a shadier corner of the park. I know that years ago, when I taught an Orff music program for pre-schoolers, one of the moms called me to discuss a picture book I'd read to the class -- a charming book by Tomi Ungerer that some of you might know, about Crictor, the boa constrictor. Check it out if you can't take my word that Crictor was anthropomorphized into the most harmless creature imaginable, not horror-inspiring at all. But apparently this little one was having nightmares and mom wanted to figure out how to exorcise them. To her credit, she neither chastised me for introducing the book, nor asked me to check future choices with her; she merely wanted the title so she could get a copy and figure out an approach. But I think her response contrasts quite dramatically with that of the parents in the playground pictured above, none of whom seem to be shielding their children from the horrors sculpted nearby.
I'm well aware of the dangers of generalizing from only two examples, and I am far from saying that the French approach is better. I'm not sure I'd be happy pushing Nola on the swing with this fellow menacing only metres away! But I did find the whole scenario amusing and thought-provoking, and I find it difficult to imagine in my neighbourhood -- what about you? any thoughts?
I will be far, far, far from snarling tomorrow when I have a lunch date with someone I have long wanted to meet. That's all I'm saying for now, but I know you'll enjoy hearing about our visit -- maybe you can guess who? (Okay, I'll give you a hint -- she's a blogger you love with a penchant --and facility-- for wearing scarves)