One day Sadie just started asking, “Where’s the mom?” We’d be reading along in one of her books – all the gifts and garage sale acquisitions within her reach – and after about 3-5 pages, she’d want to know where all the adults were. This got me thinking about these books where children run things, without adult supervision, quietly busy, compliant, and leaving caregivers alone to attend to their domestic affairs, their heroine habits, or their writing careers? But to my 2-3 year old, these scenarios did not seem natural.
This “idealized” adult author version of the “Busy Timmy” galavanting about, waking up, getting dressed, fixing his breakfast, brushing his hair, cleaning his room, rocking on his horse, seemingly without caregivers, but with sweater buttoned up tight and hat tied closely beneath his chin was suspect.
This was the beginning of our early critical conversations. While I couldn’t guarantee that there was a mom, I could ask what Sadie thought might be going on outside of the page or beyond the frame. Who do you think wrote this book? Why would a grown up write a book about such a busy little boy? Why do grown ups want kids to be busy? Notice Timmy does not make any messes while he is busy. While we didn’t re-write social injustices with that conversation, we did start our early journey conversations about the constructedness of texts.