Monday, June 07, 2004

Bad book behavior

My daughter did something today that absolutely stunned me. And I guess I should be glad that it didn't involve sex or drugs or violence or cheating on schoolwork or other typically adolescent forms of stunning behavior. In fact, I suppose in the greater scheme of things, it was positively un-stun-worthy. It was just this: She tore the cover off a book. A new paperback, one she had begged me to give her money for at her school's book fair last month. It's not like it was particularly pricey, but it was more expensive than most of the little novels -- a Ripley's almanac with a sort of spangly cover. I'd hemmed and hawed a little bit about giving her the money for that particular book because I figured it would just sit in her desk and she'd never look at it, which appears to have been the case, except that the cover got a little bit bent, and so -- well, why not? -- she ripped it off and threw it away.

And it's not that I'm some keeper of pristine books, carefully dustjacketed and bookcased, with no little fingers allowed to touch. I tote books around in my purse until the covers are frayed, I jam them onto shelves, I let sticky-fingered toddlers or finger-sucking boys turn the pages without wet-wiping first. We've worn through multiple copies of childhood favorites, and proud to do it. But you don't just tear the cover off of a book for no good reason, especially if that's about the only thing you're planning to do with it. I suppose it's a sign of how easy we have it with this particular child that this is all I have to get mad at her about. I'm happy about that. But dang, take care of your books, girl.

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