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Help, Parent Abuse in Progress!试译

(2010-06-13 11:24:59)
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杂谈

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.

救命,家长被虐待中!

(1990年六月)

二年级班里布置了一篇小论文,我女儿选了“海豚”。这是两周前的事情了。周五她宣布文章下周一都要交了,而她还没做完,所以慌了。

我们从大学返家的大女儿答应帮忙。她引导着二年级那位借助《大英百科全书》、《世界大百科》以及《海豚日志》这本古斯杜潜水社会的通讯报纸来进行缜密的研究。

二年级这位不情愿地配合着,完全不想写她的第一份研究论文。房子里满是她的抱怨声和其他种种不配合的噪音。只有突然激发的力量才能让她专注于论文。

她似乎意识到迪斯尼的《小美人鱼》那天就要在音像店上架了。她喜欢小美人鱼,会唱所有的插曲,知道每一个角色,所以迫切地觉得要将研究做完。

她坚持要我立刻跑出去吧这电影租回来。我告诉她我会去租,但只等她完成论文。她说今天租回来明天再看。我说除非她完成了作业,否则不会租的。

周日她写完最后一个句子时,刚好我和狼妈妈要出去办件事情。平时的周日没这么忙。

回来以后,二年级这位已经上床睡觉了。“有件事情,”大学读书的女儿说:“她上床前可不太高兴,说是不喜欢自己的论文。”

哦哦。早晨麻烦的源头,我们已经经历了不少了。最好先做个准备。

在女儿的二年级文件夹中,我找到了论文要求,写在一小片粉色的纸上。老师要求有标题页,两页正文和一份参考书目。

我看了下放在餐桌上装订好的作业。封面上画着两只嬉戏的海豚。两页正文中介绍了海豚牙齿的数量,包含着鱼和乌贼的食谱以及他们额前那个用来“回音定位”的“瓜瓜”。单词拼写也正确。最后一页列出了所有的参考文献,都拼对了。我作为父亲,心中既自豪又欣慰。

只还没有标题页,这明天早饭时,花一两分钟就准备好了。这将会使全宇宙史上最好的二年级研究论文。

次日早上,阳光明媚、晴空万里。吃完早饭,我上楼去叫女儿起床。我给她新买了她喜欢的小狗,同时也带着她的海豚报告,以便让她能再多花一分钟将这个报告变得完美。

她喜欢小狗舔她的脸,抱着它,然后瞪着那份报告。

“我不喜欢那画,”她说。“这幅画好极了,”我答道。“我就是不喜欢,”她继续道。

不幸的是,我们在这六年里经常见她类似的行为。我的对策是当即直面她的不安,以便等她穿好衣服,吃完谷类食物和香蕉的时候就能恢复理智。之前这方法多次生效。

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。”

“我不喜欢那画,”她应声道,“我不想去学校。”“但你必须得去。”“我不要去学校。”“为什么不去?”“因为那画不好。”

于此同时,狼妈妈正靠在橱柜上,为我们的女儿做学校的午餐,是涂了花生黄油和果冻的三明治。她对付这个小不点那出了名的固执颇有一套。但她昨晚身体不适,今早起来还脸色苍白,摇摇晃晃的。虽然平时都是她送女儿上校车,但今天我得自觉做她的替补。

那个小不点开始裤脚了:“我不要去学校,我不要去学校。”“听着,”我回应道,“你讨厌错过校车,更不想让我开车送你单独去学校。你不能赖在家里,没人照顾你。校车还有八分钟就来了,你还有足够的时间准备。”

更多的眼泪。更加高声的哭叫。我看着我的妻子,她面带病容地强笑着,静看着事态发展。

小不点儿最好的朋友在后门找她一块上学去。通常她的出现能解决问题,但今天不行。梨花带雨。这位小朋友为了不让自己错过校车,就只好先走了。我们的女儿因为被好友看见哭相而觉得窘迫,而后大哭起来。我为她准备好了红色的书包,将午餐和常用那个学生文件夹放进去。我明确地告诉她给论文里添点东西。“不要担心标题页。老师会喜欢这份论文,”我安慰道。这当然是真的。嚎啕大哭。

离校车出发还有三分钟。我提示她要么现在出发去车站,要么我开车送她去学校。她会选择哪个呢?(我认为她会认识到她所处的双重困境,选择一个不那么糟糕的,并快快收拾好东西去赶车,嗨,我没疯。这方法之前也是管用的)。结果巨大而激动的尖叫声伴随着洪水般的泪水。

好吧,我得摆出父亲的样子!“你不能无端赖在家里。你要么坐校车,要么我送你。这是底线了。“她一边踢着,一边喊叫着,被我带下楼朝着校车走去,希望这混乱时刻能让她面对现实。尖锐的哀号声与呜咽声。我在后院停下来,抱着她试图让她平静下来。她甩开我,哭叫着说她既不会坐校车,也不会让我开车送她去。我用胳膊将他推到行车道上,让她正对着车门坐下。校车近在咫尺。这是她最后一次机会平静下来排队上车了,我知道这是她更愿意做的。杀猪般的嚎叫:“不,不,爸爸,不,不!!!”

用眼睛的余光,我注意到要去上班的人们看着我们,我和女儿站在行车道,大眼瞪小眼。然后校车开走了。

我此刻恨不得把她一把抓起来扔进车里,系好她的安全带,将她开车送到学校,走进教室,一把交给老师,转身就走。听起来很凶暴吗?实际上,我和妻子曾经不止一次用这种方法送她上学—结果就是她在学校度过愉快的一天后蹦蹦跳跳回家来。

我目前还不想使用这种极端的方式处理这事。无论如何,这个不确定的选项--留在房子里独自担忧是不成的—因为我妻子的健康状况不允许。我们面对面陷入了那又黑又压抑的死胡同中。

小不点儿继续在行车道上尖叫,忽然不知道怎地,理智冲破了防线。她哭叫道:“我要找妈妈!”

分析下。这是一早上她第一次说出的能得到一个肯定答复的话,并非自相矛盾的第二十二条军规。我走进房子,小心地问候孩子她妈的身体状况。

妈妈从卧室最角落的地方走出来,不想在身体欠佳的时候把事情搞得更复杂。她听见了尖叫声。小女儿从我身后跑过去,抽抽嗒嗒的躲进下楼来的母亲的怀抱中。生病的那位带着她一块儿上床休养去了。

我上大学的女儿和十几岁的儿子从楼上逛达下来,走进厨房表示着对这场闹剧的关注。就在这时候,门铃响了。我儿子去开门,而我想一只笼中猫般在厨房里踱来踱去。上班也迟到了。我听到两个男人的声音。我自认为是个主张绝对和平主义的基督徒。

我的儿子和她们在说或,而我在忙着收拾公文包,匆匆出发。她回到厨房一脸的嘲弄。

“警察来了,”他说:“调查一宗虐待儿童的投诉。”

虐待儿童?我应声道,虐待儿童?那怎么不说是虐待家长呢?

我儿子对警官肯定,这混乱仅仅是因为他妹妹不想带着作业去学校。他们微笑着回到车里,去打击更为重大的犯罪了。

我仍旧沉浸在我们在明尼苏达第五区的悲剧中,并为那天添加了一块纸板,上书:“调查吉拉德大道上的儿童虐待投诉,因家庭作业引发的忧虑除外。”

此时对于各当事人来说都不算好,除了警方。

作为四个孩子的家长,我们都了解自己的孩子有什么样的独特行为。此外,作为家长,我们自身也有一些明显的不足。这个特别的孩子常在分别是显得十分焦虑—即使她在学校过着很快乐的日子,能在拼字游戏中获胜并不假思索的写出“回音定位”这个词。解决分离焦虑最有效的方法就是保证她在早上有足够的时间战胜恐惧并赶上校车。这个方法今天明显不管用。

在我离家后不久,生病的那位让二年级那位平静了下来并送她去上学,带着新画的海豚和清晰打印地标题页(迟到了一个小时)。小不点儿那天中午放学回家的时候,快乐的像只小山雀。

在离家上班之前,我十分激动,衣服凌乱,给800打了个直拨求助电话。我询问有没有虐待家长热线,话务员说没有。“真糟糕”,我说道:“我应该用过的”。

也许我该为未被逮捕而庆幸。

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