This summer has had a couple of themes. Swimming was one theme. You might have noticed it? Let us not talk about swimming again until next year. Amen.
Another theme has been Diary of a Wimpy Kid. These books, which are written in diary style and comic font and have lots of pictures, have completely consumed my kids for months. Arlo was bringing them home from the school library last year, but not really reading them, but this summer he started really reading them. Like, fast. Like, we were at the public library every few days picking up another one in the series. Then he started over again with the first one.
Of course if one child has [anything] the other child has to have one too, which is why we’ve had two library copies of every Wimpy Kid book in the series kicking around the house all summer long. Ask me about my fines!
We still read to the kids, of course, even though they can read to themselves just fine, so bedtime or chilling out time means I get to hear Diary read out loud, or read it myself. It’s not my favourite book, but it makes Saint Aardvark laugh for real sometimes so he gets to read it, if at all possible.*
And then the kids re-discovered that there are three Wimpy Kid movies on Netflix so one of those movies has been in constant play during screen time for a week now and I’m getting to that saturation point I remember so fondly from their toddler days, when I would find myself analyzing the motivation of the blue Wiggle or the psychological makeup of Caillou.
To that end, the things I have observed this summer about the Wimpy Kid and the reason I will not be sad when we move on to a new obsession:
1. Greg Heffley (the Wimpy Kid whose diary we are reading) is a self-centred jerk and it’s amazing he has even one friend.
2. Everyone is EITHER mean OR gets made fun of.
3. Older brother (Roderick) is mean AND rude AND stupid (but I do love him in the films, he is adorable)
4. Adults are ALWAYS idiots.
5. Girls are EITHER horrible or unattainable goddesses.
Now, yes, I know, it’s not written for me any more than Pokemon and Beyblades were written for me. Broad brushes painting tired stereotypes are not the worst thing to find splashing around on your face, right? The series begins with Greg starting middle school — grade six — so I get that it’s reflecting a reality, that of the self-absorbed, insecure, cut-throat pre-teens and teens that populate such places. But is it really that bad? Or are we making it worse by creating this fictional reality for kids to find their reflections in?
You see what I mean about the analysis. Clearly it is time for summer vacation to end and for the real world of school to start up again. After repeated viewings of Diary I have to remind myself that my kids are only going into grade two and kindergarten, not middle school, and that they are not, overall, big jerks. And… breathe.
* He is, however, increasingly irritated by Eli making him start reading at the same place every night. Eli seems to love the first forty pages of the first book and SA just can’t seem to get past it. Poor guy. I’d offer to help, but I’m not going to.**
** THAT right there is Wimpy Kid behavior. Oh god. I’m going down with the ship.