Monday, January 30, 2006

Suicide Bomber Barbie--The Metaphor

Okay, so I'm not really suggesting our daughters should have such a plaything, but in the back of my mind, GI Joe sits.

Along with little green army men, silver six-shooters and ninja swords.

These are/were the toys our little boys cut their teeth on--back in the days when little girls had irons and vaccuum cleaners. Those glorious post-war days when the suburban housewife epitomized womanhood. Nevermind that alcoholism was rampant amongst them. They looked pretty. They fulfilled a man's life. They were Barbie.

Now let's travel back to the time of the Brother's Grimm. Several studies have been done about the role of dark fantasy in children's lives. It's been suggested that these violent fairy tales actually helped children put a name to their fears and gave them tools to overcome adversity. After all, Hansel and Gretel prevailed by killing the witch.

I don't know if it's an urban legend that the song "Ring Around The Rosy" is really about the Black Plague, but I can tell you that shortly after September 11th an understanding teacher pulled me aside and told me that my daughter and her friends were playing a curious game during recess.

Seems two of the girls were the Twin Towers, and two others were the planes. The "planes" would run forward and hit the "towers" and the towers would all fall down.


So maybe Suicide Bomber Barbie--the metaphor--isn't such a stretch after all. Maybe she'd help children deal with the terrors of the twenty-first century the same way Ring Around The Rosy helped children in the Dark Ages and GI Joe helped boys during Vietnam.

Are you with me?

*listens to echoes in an empty room*


You know, when I start blabbing like this it's a good thing. Really. It means my mind is getting recharged and it's almost time to start writing again.

And you thought I was on acid.


Still, there is one Barbie I really would like to see. Rosie The Riveter Barbie. Now there's a woman we can all relate to!


Blogger THIS! Christine said...

I can see where you're going with this, Ann.
We have a tendency these days to protect our children from everything, even reality.
Playgrounds of yore are vitually extinct now--too dangerous. Instead of teaching our children the risks involved, we simply removed it from the playground.
Instead of rewarding acheivment, we embrace everyone's 'specialness' in a bid to boost the young, fragile, psyche. This really prepares them for adulthood. Go tell your employer that your mediocrity is just as valuable as your co-workers excellence. Not to mention how this undermines the student who IS excelling.
Interesting thing about your girls game in the school yard. Were there occassions when the towers pushed back and won, or was the act of getting up and going to class enough of an affirmation of life for them? (much like the ring around the rosy game) we all fall down, but then we get up and go about our business.
I'm not a psychologist and I probably have the underlying motivations behind these games all wrong. Still it seems they came up with one way to cope with the stress of what happened.


January 30, 2006 11:53 AM  
Blogger Ann Wesley Hardin said...

Spot on, X! Yes, as far as I could ascertain at the time, the Twin Towers game was another version of RATR. The towers didn't fight back. It was just a coping mechanism.

And you're so right about the removal of dangers. When I was a kid, my grandparents attached a barbell weight to a chain and hung it from a tree for me and FabDame to swing on. Not only did that barbell weight pinch your thigh skin like a MFer if you didn't sit on it right, but if you swung high enough, you could touch a toe to the high wires feeding into the house. One of the wires was high voltage, one was for the telephone. They were inches apart. We were told not to make a mistake and touch the high voltage one, otherwise, we were free to swing (or be catapaulted by our cousins) as high as we liked.

The deadly thrill of aiming that toe for the phone line--knowing that I was mere inches away from a French Fry--is something my daughters will never, ever know. But then, I didn't have to worry about Suicide Bomber Barbie.

I guess it's all relative.

January 30, 2006 12:09 PM  
Blogger Lyn Cash said...

I'm sure my son had a ton of scrambled and confusing advice from his 'enlightened' mom as he grew up.

#1 - Go out and take some risks, honey!

#2 - BUT don't get hurt!

January 30, 2006 7:50 PM  
Blogger THIS! Christine said...

LOL Lyn. My approach is a bit more, These are the potential dangers. Be aware, but have fun.

Back when I was a kid my Mum was happy to see us out of the house. So long as we were back by supper time all was good.

Of course the problem is these days we watch our children at play, so as parents we're constantly on alert for dangers. I was watching my son on a swing set one day that wasn't set in the ground properly. Now thinking back to my own childhood, and referencing Ann's experience with the wires, the challenge would have been to swing as high as possible without tipping the swing set over, but as a mother my instinct was to pull him off it.

Much better not to watch. I don't drink nearly as much LOL


January 30, 2006 10:30 PM  

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