Saturday, May 17, 2008

Sensitivity Training

Most days, JR comes off as a rough and tumble little boy. He goes everywhere these days with his baseball glove and ball, tossing the ball high into the air as he saunters down the street. He builds frightening monsters and fighting rockets out of Legos and K'Nects. He sings scatological songs.

But every so often, he does something to remind me that he truly is a sensitive little boy.

On Wednesdays, our library stays open into the evening. So after dinner, we took a walk over to replenish our supply of books. JR loaded up on nonfiction books about ships and fighter jets. I picked up a couple mysteries for me and suggested that we also get Roald Dahl's "James and the Giant Peach" to read together, as we have not read a chapter book together (since we abandoned Harry Potter early in Book 5, jointly deciding that the 16-year-old Harry's life was a bit too much for the 5-year JR). I'd never read it but have heard the book described as a wonderful classic kids book. I did read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory as a kid with my dad, and loved it.

Back at home, having finished our first water ices of the season, we snuggled on the couch and began to read Chapter 1 of "James and the Giant Peach." I read through the idyllic life on the beach of 4-year-old James, his parents' trip to London, their demise at the hands of the escaped giant rhinoceros and James' move to live with his less-than-loving aunts. JR burst into tears. "It's so sad," he sobbed. I told him that the book flap said that James was going to have wonderful adventures. He continued to sob. I skimmed silently through Chapters 2 and 3 and read to him the passage where James is given the living crystal seeds. "I can't stop thinking about him," he gulped between giant tears rolling down his little face.

He was still visibly saddened through bath time and when we settled him into bed, he instructed me "No more James and the Giant Peach." So we started in on one of JR's picks from the library - a new book about stealth fighter jets - and he settled into a comfortable sleep.

1 comment:

chicksinger said...

I remember when Supertramp's "The Logical Song" filled me with a sense of dread: "But then they send me away..." Something about being out on one's own before one is ready was a frightening prospect. Interesting that the orphan Harry in books 1-4 didn't inspire such a reaction in JR -- was he not old enough to empathize, or was it just described differently enough to lessen the impact? Poor little guy -- I hope you're able to pick "James" up again someday.