Betcha thought I was gonna talk about high school hijinx and bar room brawls. Nope. I'm talking about our beloved friends, The Berenstain Bears. Last year I complained to the five readers I had then how appalling it was that Sister and Brother Bear played "spin the bottle" at Sister's birthday party in "The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Birthday." Not pin the tail on the donkey. Not musical chairs. They played spin-the-freakin-bottle. I halfway expected it to be an empty Corona bottle full of cigarette butts the way the story was going. Oh you can imagine the questions from my kids because they don't. miss. a. beat, and I couldn't contain the look of horror on my face as those words spilled out of Little Red Riding Hood's mouth from our beloved Berenstain Bears books. "Mom what's spin the bottle? How do you play? Why haven't we ever played?" Well, because it's usually played by teenagers up to no good, that's why! Now go brush your teeth after saying those words.
So tonight, we read "The Berenstain Bears and the Bully." The story told of how a little girl bully named "Tuffy" beat up Sister. As revenge, Sister learned how to throw a left hook and an upper cut. I kid you not. Tuffy then tried to bully a baby bird on the playground the next day. Sister wasn't having any of that so she threw a right cross knocking Tuffy on the ground. I'm not making this up. The two bears ended up in the principal's office where Tuffy cried that she didn't want her parents to know because she wouldn't "be able to sit down for a--well, a long time." Okay, that issue aside, the principal let Sister off the hook completely for protecting a bird and
"As for Tuffy, the principal didn't call in her parents. But she did lose a week of recess, and she had to visit the school psychologist twice a week for quite a while."
Helllooo? Mr. Berenstain? You're kidding right? No punishment for Sister at all? Yeah the baby bird needed protecting, but Sister used a boxing move on a kid! And Tuffy was being sent to a psychologist without the parents knowledge? What school district and century are you in pal? No child gets sent to a psychologist without a slew of testing, and forms and signatures, and oh yeah, the parent's permission! She was in a fight for crying out loud. Don't the parents need to be notified? It's elementary school! It bugs me that this book portrays this as truth for kids and parents to read. It leaves them with the impression that kids have no consequences for hitting another child in the name of subjectively defined altruism , and that kids can be sent to a school psychologist without parental knowledge let alone consent. That just doesn't happen. I'm sure Mama and Papa Bear would want to know that Sister was throwing upper cuts that Brother taught her in the cellar. And Tuffy's Mom deserves to know that someone hit her baby bear and got away with it. I know it's just a book, but still. It bugs me because they are widely read, and this is irresponsible. Irresponsible, I tell ya.
Am I off-base on this? I'm probably overreacting. I do that from time to time you know. And don't get me started on those Junie B. Jones books. Just don't.