I went to the bookstore this weekend. My parents are in town and we thusly sped through the rest of Little House on the Prairie at lightning speed, Laylee curled up on my Dad’s lap, face squinched in concentration.
She loves that book, the first real chapter book we’ve read together. Honestly, I’m surprised that she enjoys it so much. There are a lot of words she doesn’t understand and several portions read like a transcript of Norm Abrahm’s New Yankee Workshop… chopped down 3 large trees and hauled them up from the creek bed… raised the ax in the air… lowered the ax… drove the wedge into the log… drove the wedge further into the log… the log split… made pegs… saw Indians.
Laylee: Why are they scared of the Indians, mama?
Me: Well, many of the white people were very mean to the Indians. They hurt them and even killed them so sometimes the Indians would fight back against the white people. They thought that all white people were bad and they wanted to protect themselves. So then some of the white people got scared of the Indians because they were fighting back.
Laylee: What are “white people”?
Me: Oh. They’re people with lighter skin. We’re white people.
Laylee: Hmm… What would we say to an Indian if one came to our house?
Me: Probably “Hi.”
Laylee: I think we should say, “Please don’t hurt us because we’re nice, even though our skin is light.”
Me: Sounds like a plan.
Now really, I’m not sure how to have that discussion with a 4-year-old but thanks to Little House on the Prairie, I get to. Maybe my dad can help. He’s the one who finished the book with her. So we headed to the used bookstore to get the next book in the series, or any book in the series, or any book about woodworking, corn cakes or race relations on the American frontier, whatever they had in stock.
I told my family about the sign on the front door and that I still hadn’t decided what to say so I was just going to ignore it for the weekend. We entered the store and had a nice talk with the man behind the counter. I found Little House in the Big Woods for $2 while my mom read stories to the kids at the small table in the children’s section and my dad discussed gardening with the owner. We touched the books and breathed the musty smells.
Behind the counter was a box full of the Reproductive Responsibility signs with a note that said, “Free Bumperstickers.”
I smiled at the man and the man smiled at my kids. I turned down his offer to return the book for a dollar credit when we were done reading it because I had a feeling we would never be done reading it over and over and over again.
I plan to continue shopping there and unless he starts treating me differently when I have 3 or 4 or 8 kids, I likely won’t say anything about the stickers.
What’ll we do if the Indians come to our house? We’ll probably just say “Hi” and try to show them that we’re nice and responsible, even though we have light skin and 37 kids. Maybe we’ll all get along okay, despite our differences.