Friday, January 11, 2013
Henry Huggins, 2013 remix
The pining I felt to be part of that gang as a kid is nothing compared with how much I wish my boys could be now. Because, even though in 1989 I could appreciate its picture-perfect 50's charm, it wasn't that different from my own life. I never heard the word playdate until my children were having them. We had girl scouts/lessons/sports.... but not all going on at once. My siblings and I were blessed with parents that let us breathe - we walked to school alone, played outside until dark with the neighbors, and cruised around the neighborhood on our bikes. That's not to say that I didn't waste a lot of hours laying around watching Saved By The Bell and America's Funniest Home Videos sometimes, too. Just that we were free as kids.
Just imagine if Henry Huggins was set in 2013.
In the opening chapter, Henry is coming home from the Y, where he goes once a week for swimming lessons. He's waiting at the bus stop, eating an ice cream cone, when he finds the homeless dog and has his first adventure trying to get him home on the bus.
Hmm.. there are some obvious snags to making this story 2013-friendly. Third grader riding city bus alone. Third grader simply walking out the door after swimming lessons and heading home, without being "picked up" by a designated adult. Child having only one after school commitment per week.
2013 version: Henry's mom picks him up from school and drives him to the Y. She walks inside with him and sits on a plastic chair next to the pool for his whole lesson. She walks out with him afterward. As they are walking toward the minivan, they see Ribsy sitting in the parking lot and decide to take him home. Ice cream cone sadly omitted or possibly gluten-free cone?
In the second chapter, Henry buys a pair of guppies with his pocket money while he's at the pet shop buying horsemeat for his dog. By the time he gets home, there are already a dozen babies. He goes to the library to get a book on taking care of tropical fish and by the end of the chapter, he has hundreds of fish in dozens of canning jars taking over his bedroom. He wisely decides to sell them back to the pet store.
2013 snags: similiar to chapter 1. Let's get on to the 2013 version:
Henry's mom picks him up from school and stops at the store on the way home to buy dogfood. They decide to buy some guppies. Mom googles to find out how to take care of tropical fish. The guppies start breeding and mom takes over. She gets stressed by all the fish jars all over the house. She eventually decides there are too many and makes Henry get rid of them.
In Chapter 3, Henry and his friend Scooter are playing with Scooter's new football and Henry accidentally throws it into a passing car. Scooter demands repayment, so Henry catches thousands of night crawlers to earn enough money to buy a replacement ball. Luckily the lost ball is returned just in time by a kind neighbor, and Henry can use the money he has earned to buy his own ball.
Snags: child solves own problem instead of expecting his parents to.
2013 version: Henry and Scooter are having a playdate. Both moms are present. Both moms warn boys to stay well away from the road. Henry makes a terrible throw and somehow manages to throw the ball into a passing car, despite extreme caution on both mothers' parts. The moms see everything and talk it over. Scooter's mom buys him a new ball that night. Henry's mom buys him one, too, for good measure. That Saturday, the neighbor returns the ball, so now Henry has two.
Chapter 4, Henry is given a part in the school Christmas play, much to his dismay. Ribsy saves the day by knocking a can of green paint all over him while they are painting the set, so Henry is excused from participating.
Snags: play practice would interfere with the children's regularly scheduled afterschool activities. Children painting own set. Christmas play inappropriate.
2013 version: Three weeks before play rehearsals are set to begin, teachers send home permission forms to take part in a Winter Celebrations play. Henry doesn't want to be in the play, so he never gives the form to his mother. He isn't in the play at all, but volunteers to be part of the stage crew because he wants to paint the set. The parents paint the backgrounds while Henry and Scooter sit on the floor and play angry birds.
In Chapter 5, Henry enters Ribsy in a neighborhood dog show. Ribsy is a mess and Henry sprinkles him with talcum powder to try to cover it up. He performs terribly, but shockingly wins a small silver cup for the most unusual dog, due to his pink spots.
Snags: Henry's independence, actual awards
2013 version: Henry hears about a dog show and asks his mom to enter him. She does. The night before the dog show, she gives Ribsy a bath. The next day, she drives Henry and Ribsy down to the park. She registers for them. Ribsy does terribly, but Henry gets a silver cup anyway, for participating.
Chapter 6: Ribsy's former owner finds Henry after seeing his picture in the paper for winning the award in the dog show. They decide to settle the matter by letting Ribsy choose. Each boy calls to him, and Ribsy goes to Henry in the end. The neighborhood kids cheer and Henry is the hero.
Snags: see Chap 3, also child reading newpaper
2013 version: The former owner's dad calls Henry's dad and accuses Henry of stealing his son's dog. Luckily, Henry's uncle is a lawyer, so Henry's dad scares the other dad into backing down. Henry posts pictures of Ribsy on facebook and tags the other boy.
The 2013 lifestyle takes out all the fun and squelches all the adventures. I don't want that to be true for my kids' lives, too.
Today we let Miles rent a bike at the railway park instead of riding on a child's seat on the back of Whim's. And while he struggled with the monkey bars, I sat nearby and tried to channel Mrs. Huggins. Granted, she would have been at home canning peaches, but Henry was nine, not four. And he didn't have a little brother who has seizures. I'm working on it.