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Help, Parent Abuse in Progress!试译

(2010-06-13 11:24:59)


分类: 翻译

Help, Parent Abuse in Progress!

(June 1990)

When the second grade class was assigned a research paper, our daughter picked “dolphins.” That was two weeks ago. Friday she announced that the paper was due on Monday and she wasn’t finished. She panicked.

Our oldest daughter, home from college, agreed to help. She guided the second grader through the rigors of research in the Encyclopedia Britannica, the World Book, and Dolphin Log, the newsletter of the Cousteau Society.

The second grader cooperated reluctantly, surly that she had to write this, her first research paper, at all. Our house was much disturbed by her moaning and other noises of a negative nature. She focused on the paper only when a powerful motivating force was brought into play.

It seems she was aware that Disney’s The Little Mermaid was due to arrive at video stores that day. She loved The Little Mermaid, sang all the songs, knew all the characters, and felt a compelling need to study it over and over again.

She insisted that I run out and rent the movie immediately. I said I would rent it for her, but only when her paper was done. She said, rent it today and she would watch it tomorrow. I said only if she finished her paper would I rent it.

Sunday she penciled in the last sentence just as Mrs. Coyote and I went out for a rare Sunday evening obligation.

Upon returning, the second grander was in bed asleep. “One thing,” said the college daughter. “She went to bed unhappy, saying that she still didn’t like her paper.”

Uh oh. A recipe for morning trouble, with which we had much experience. Best to be prepared.

I located the research paper instructions written on a scrap of pink construction paper in our daughter’s second grade folder. The teacher required a title page, two pages of text and a list of references.

I looked at the assembled work lying on the kitchen table. The cover had a wonderful drawing of two frolicking dolphins. The two pages of text described the number of dolphin teeth, their diet of fish and squid, and their use of an item on the front of their head called a “melon” for “echolocation.” The word was spelled correctly. The last sheet of paper listed all the references, also spelled correctly. I was a proud and relieved papa.

Only the title page was missing, and that could be prepared in a minute or two during breakfast. This was going to be the finest second grade research paper in the history of the universe!

The next day dawned sunny and clear. After my early breakfast, I bounded up the stairs to wake my daughter. I brought her the new puppy, which she loved. I also brought her the dolphin report to help her begin her morning with the knowledge that it was only one minute away from perfection.

She loved the puppy licking her face, and cuddled him, she scowled at the report.

“ I don’t like the drawing,” she said. “It’s a great drawing,” I said. “I don’t like it,” she said.

Unfortunately, we had seen this kind of behavior often in her six years. My strategy was to confront her right away with her anxieties so that by the time she was dressed and through her cereal and banana she would have dropped into rational focus. It had worked many times before.

But during today’s cereal and banana, she said the drawing still didn’t look right. “Ok, Ok,” I said, “don’t take the drawing. It’s not required anyway. Just write DOLPHINS and your name on a blank sheet of paper for the title sheet and you’re done!”

“I don’t like the drawing,’’ she responded. “I can’t go to school.” “But you have to go to school.” “I can’t go to school.” “Why not?” “Because the drawing isn’t right.”

In the moment Mrs. Coyote was leaning on the kitchen counter making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for our daughter’s school lunch. She has a miraculous touch with the Little One’s legendary intransigence but  had been quite sick the night before and was green and wobbly this morning. Although she normally handles the morning school departures, I had volunteered to leap into the breach.

The Little One began crying hard, “I can’t go to school, I can’t go to school.” “Look,” I reasoned, “you hate to miss the bus. You hate worse to driven to school and arrive separately. You cannot stay home; no one will be here. It is now eight minutes to the bus, plenty of time to get ready.”

More tears. Higher pitched wails. I looked at my wife, who was eyeing at this sink with a half green smile.

The Little One’s friend came to pick her up for school at the back door. Usually her presence helped, but not today. More wails. Her friend left so she didn’t miss the bus herself. Our daughter was of course embarrassed that she was seen wailing by her friend, thus wailed all the more. I prepared her red school bag, putting her lunch and her regular school folder. Cleverly, I showed her that I was adding her research paper. “Don’t worry about the title page. The teacher will love the paper,” I reassured her, certain it was true. Even higher pitched wails.

Three minutes to the school bus. I told her that either she leave for the bus stop Now or I would have to drive her to school. Which would it be? (My psychology here was that she would recognize her double bind, choose the lesser of the two evils, and quickly get it together for the bus. Hey, I wasn’t crazy. This strategy had also worked before). Instead, immense freaked-out screams accompanied floods of tears.

Ok, it’s DAD time! “You cannot stay home for no reason. You will be driven or take the bus. This is the end of the line.” I took her kicking and screaming down the stairs toward the bus, hoping that this disruptive movement would inspire her to face reality. Pathetic high-pitched screams and sobs. I stopped in the backyard and tried to hug her into calming down. She fought away and screamed that she wouldn’t take the bus and wouldn’t drive in the car. I pulled her further by the arm into the driveway and sat her down just across from the car door. The bus would pass by ten feet from us. This was her last chance to calm down and get into the bus line, which I knew she preferred. Murderous high-pitched screams, “No, no, Daddy, no, noooo!!!!”

Our of the corner of my eye, I noticed people going to work looking into the driveway where my daughter and I sat nose to nose in pathos. Then the school bus drove past.

I imagined at this point flinging her into the car, strapping her in, driving to school with her screaming and thrashing, dragging her into the school and into the school room, handing her over to the teacher and leaving. Sound cruel? Truth to be known, my wife and I had used this desperate procedure more than once before—always with the result that she had a happy day at school, returning home with a bounce in her step.

Yet I found it difficult to muster the necessary enthusiasm for this draconian approach. However, the unstated alternative—staying home alone brooding in her room—was unacceptable given my wife’s green condition. We both faced each other, lost in a dark, depressing dead-end box.

The Little One continued to scream in the driveway. Then, from nowhere, rationality broke through. She cried, “I want my Mommy!”

Analysis. This was the first time all morning she had said anything for which there was a possible affirmative answer, not a Catch 22. I stepped inside the house and ginger inquired after Mommy’s health.

Mommy, it turned out, had repaired to the farthest corner of the bedroom, not wanting to complicate current matters in her green condition. She had heard the screams. She wobbled back downstairs as the Little One ran in behind me and collapsed sobbing in her mother’s arms. The Green One carried her up to bed for mutual recuperation.

Our college daughter and teenaged son bumbled downstairs and into the kitchen in response to the commotion. At which point the doorbell rang. My son got it, as I was pacing in the kitchen like a caged cat and late for work to boot. I heard two male voices, Jehovah’s Witnesses, I figured. My son talked to them while I stuffed my briefcase for a harried departure. He came back to the kitchen with a quizzical smile on his face.

“The police,: he said, “investigating a complaint of child abuse.”

Child abuse? I answered. CHILD abuse! How about PARENT ABUSE instead?!?!!

My son had assured the policemen that the commotion was only his little sister not wanting to take her homework to school. They smiled and retired to their car, on to more weighty crimes.

Still, I imagined our pathetic drama adding another item to the day’s blotter at Minneapolis’ Fifth Precinct: “Investigated complaint of child abuse on Girard Avenue. Dismissed as a case of homework anxiety.”

The facts of this story are not pretty for anyone involved except the police.

As parents of four children, we well know that every child has his or her own behavioral particularities. In addition, we as parents have our own stark failings. This particular child has always has massive separation anxiety—from home and especially form Mommy—even though at school she has happy days and wins spelling bees and can write “echolocation” without a second thought. The most effective resolution of the separation problem has been to make sure she has enough time in the morning to overcome her fears and still make the school bus. That strategy certainly didn’t work today.

Sometimes after my departure, the Green One was able to calm the second grader and get her to school an hour late accompanied by a fresh dolphin drawing and precisely printed title sheet. The Little One returned from school that afternoon cheerful as a chickadee.

Prior to my leaving the house for work, rattled and bedraggled, I called directory assistance for 800 numbers. I asked for the Parent Abuse Hotline. There was no such thing, the operator reported. “Too bad,” I said. “I could have used it.”

Maybe I should by happy I avoided arrest.


















但直到今天的谷物和香蕉时间,她还是说那画看起来不好。“好了好了,”我说,“那就不要画了,反正又不是必要的。只在一张白纸上写上 “海豚” 和你的名字作为标题页就行了。”


























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