Thursday, October 1, 2009

Laura Ingalls Wilder is my Homegirl

Once upon a time, sixty years ago, a little girl lived in the Big Woods of Wisconsin, in a little gray house made of logs...


I've loved Laura Ingalls Wilder since I could pick up a book, and since I am feeling themey lately, I am going to move from Neil Diamond Month in September straight into Laura Ingalls Wilder Month in October.

I so wanted my kids to love the Little House books, and when my oldest daughter was about 7 and my son around 5, I started to read Little House in the Big Woods to them. I should have remembered that they thought the Easter Bunny was creepy and Santa was a stranger who wanted them to sit on his lap and tell him all their secrets.

By page 5, the killing started.

Instead of inspiring them to think of historic, frontier America, the book made them despise pioneers. Pa was offing deer, bears, squirrels, and rabbit. To my kids, this was Bambi, Teddy, Chip and Dale and Thumper. Then Ma is taking them apart like a serial killer and stuffing the bits in the attic.

By page 13, they were dismantling a hog.

ME: "...and then when they butchered the hog, Ma saved the bladder and blew it up for the girls to play with it..."
THEM: "What do you mean, 'the bladder?'"
ME: "The bladder is an organ inside of the pig. Ma blew it up so they could play with it, like a balloon."
THEM: "What do you mean, 'organ inside the pig?'"
ME: "It's something inside your body, like your heart or your lungs. But it was a toy!"
THEM: "And what does the bladder do?"
ME: "Um...it is the thing that holds the urine, so when it gets full you have to go to the bathroom. But then they could bat it back and forth...so fun!"
THEM: "...............urine. Like pee?"
ME: "Yes, but it was like a balloon, or a kickball when Ma blew it up. Whee!"
THEM: "THEY PLAYED WITH THE PIG'S PEE BAG!?!?! That is so gross! Why would they do that!?! What was wrong with those little girls!"
ME: "But they didn't have toys, really! This was normal! It was like a pretty balloon! They could play with it!"
THEM: "We don't care how poor we ever get, we will never play with things from inside of animals, and especially not things their pee or poop goes through!"
ME: "And then Ma started making the head cheese..."
THEM: "No way. We are done with this Laura chick and her crazy mother."

And really, how could I argue with that logic?

Perhaps Little House in the Big Woods with the opening butchering scene wasn't the right choice, but I'm a purist. Laura wrote it first, therefore it should be first. You don't start with These Happy Golden Years, damn it, you start with the Big Woods, because all the books stem from Pa's restless nature. Once six neighbors were within 50 miles of him, Pa was feeling crowded, and really, you don't come on Pa's land or he'll sic Jack the Bulldog on you, grab his shotgun above the door and pop a cap in your ass.

Laura was Pa's half pint, she is the Original Frontier Girl, and she is my homegirl in October! Now go eat some corn pone and grease the bear traps!

3 comments:

pollyanns said...

Thanks for starting my day off right, hon! Love ya - Pol

Jennifer Brindley said...

re: your comment. Hell yes I went on the Mayercraft!! (Only the 2nd one). Unfortunately there's no MC3 for next year because his new album, Battle Studies, is coming out and he'll be going on tour, etc. :( Huge bummer. I've considered just going to LA for a few weeks and hanging around the strip. I'd be bound to run into him at SOME point...


~Jenn (Ex Hot Girl)

Anita said...

Laura was my hero- and I thought the bladder thing was pretty sick- in the old sense of sick- as in gross. Not sick as in awesome, which I was informed is the new term. Duh Me. So this will be a great month.

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