"You ain't fair" I said, you ain't fair."
"You're real nice, Uncle Jack, an' I reckon I love you even after what you did, but you don't understand children much."...
"And why do I not understand children, Miss Jean Louise? Such conduct as yours requires little understanding. It was obstreperous, disorderly and abusive."
"You gonna give me a chance to tell you? I don't mean to sass you, I'm just tryin' to tell you."
Uncle Jack sat down on the bed. His eyebrows came together, and he peered up at me from under them. "Proceed," he said.
I took a deep breath. "Well, in the first place you never stopped to gimme a chance to tell you my side of it - you just lit right into me. When Jem an' I fuss Atticus doesn't ever just listen to Jem's side of it, he hears mine too, an' in the second place you told me never to use words like that except in ex-extreme provocation, and Francis provocated me enough to knock his block off."
"Jack! When a child asked you something, answer him, for goodness sake. But don't make a production out of it. Children are children, but they can spot an evasion quicker than adults, and evasion simply muddles 'em."
Sometimes I feel guilty that when I read, I mostly read for pleasure. Sometimes that pleasure is in a work of fiction and sometimes it's in a work of non-fiction, but rarely does it take the form of a parenting book.
"You're with them all day - why would you want to read about them at night," the devil on my shoulder whispers into my ear. "You might get some helpful ideas or gain some insight into how your kids are feeling," counters my inner angel.
But low and behold - sometimes you can have both - great literature and great parenting advice.
It's a funny thing. I've read To Kill A Mockingbird at least three times now but only once as a parent and until I became a parent I never noticed that it's full of stellar parenting directive, though none perhaps that jumped off the pages as much as these two passages.
I wonder what pearls of wisdom I stand to glean from my next read, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow?
After all, Ichabod Crane was a schoolmaster.
song: One for the Mockingbird • artist: Cutting Crew
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