My four-year-old has the sense of humor of… well, a four-year-old. So, naturally, we thought she might enjoy The Amazing Adventures of Captain Underpants.
Now, I know that these books are controversial and some schools have banned them for little kids. But me, I have to confess that it is hard not to respect any author who situates his story at Jerome Horwitz Elementary School. (For anyone without a Y-chromosome, Jerome Horwitz was Curly of the Three Stooges.) So, controversy or no, I bought a couple of these books for my preschooler.
The problem, it turns out, is that her seven-year-old sister was equally enthralled with the misadventures of the book’s true heroes, who are two boys who love to play silly pranks.
Pranks! Why, this must be what makes the books controversial. There is something about pranks that never fails to capture a child’s imagination. Both of my girls have become obsessed with the idea of playing a prank on someone.
The ideas they have come up with so far involve either magic or technology not yet invented. Which is fine, because I don’t have to worry about them actually pulling one of those pranks. But one of them is an old classic lifted straight out of Captain Underpants: Do something with fake doggy doo.
My wife and I described fake doggy doo as a prank people “used to” play, explaining it in the past tense as if to suggest that there might be some impracticality with this plan. And, for a day or so, this suggestion worked.
But, as luck would have it, my brother was expecting a birthday, which meant he would be expecting a card. So I took the girls to a store that sells birthday cards—among other gifty things.
Cool, retro things. Like that face you put hair and beards on with magnetic metal shavings. And whoopee cushions. And—wouldn’t you know it—fake doggy doo.
I was at the counter paying for my card when the girls came up with it in their hands. While it was hard to resist the charm of a child with fake poop in her hands, I pulled out the old “We’ll think about it” excuse to escape the store.
But that didn’t stop the begging. Which turned to promises: They would be good, they would clean, they would do my chores, they would [I could fill in the blank] for weeks, they promised. Even a promise in writing (kindly ignore the misapplication of the legal-sounding word, will).
All for fake doggy doo. I hadn’t the heart to tell them that the pranks they could play with it in real life were no match for the ones in their imaginings.
On the other hand,… maybe not. I can just picture them doing the dumbest things imaginable with it and thinking it was the funniest thing ever. I mean, they’re kids, not members of the Algonquin Round Table.
So maybe maybe really means maybe this time. Maybe I’ll have to give in and buy it. Despite the weeks of deprogramming it would require, it might be worth it to hear those juvenile squeals of laughter.
Hmm… I can’t believe I’m actually thinking about it. (But, no, I won’t be letting them pay the bills.)