Seriously, who decided these are classics?
February 23, 2012, 11:19 pm
Filed under: books, entertainment, homework, humor, Parenting, Teenagers | Tags: , , , , , ,

“Shakespeare was the worst author that the world has ever know” my son Isaac declares. Then he looks at me and winks. “I mean he would be a lot easier to follow if he spoke normal english.” He went on, “Seriously I mean, talk about a sad, stupid, book. Romeo and Juliette suicide for love, then not suicide, then suicide again. Really how can any one complain about my generations obsession with death when that is considered a must read?” His eyebrows working over time as he warms up to his argument. John agrees with a laugh and mentions the ‘ancient’ language and why teachers think it must be good if it is difficult to read.

Jessie jumps in with by saying she does not mind it, Shakespeare was fun to read aloud and to dive in to the meaning. This of course elicits rolling eyes, and exaggerated sigh’s from her brothers. Christian chimes in with, “Of course Jessie gets it, she gets all this crap, I wish it was written in our modern-day language so I did not have to fight through all the extra stuff to understand what he was saying.”

I am listening to this conversation as it buzzes around my kitchen. My four kids crediting, and discrediting Shakespeare as they clean up the kitchen after dinner. The boys have won tonight and Rap music is blaring and I try to ignore the profanity that streams from my computer in the ruse of a song. I wonder how many hundreds of kitchens across the world have had a similar conversation over Shakespeare. I know I felt somewhere in-between Jessie and the boys, loving the drama, the ideal of that kind of passionate love, but hating the ordeal of reading it, dissecting it, and re-interpreting what was being said.

Jessie is reading “Lord of the Flies”, John is working through “Of Mice and Men” and Isaac is moaning through “One Flew Over a Cuckoo’s Nest”. Christian is doing a literal analysis on a Shakespearian sonnet. That is an overload of banned books, literary genius, and yes, a whole lot of death to have in one house. Why do we have to read these books anyway? Seriously who decides they are classics? How do I know if what I think it is about, is what it really is about, and who can tell me I am wrong if that is what I interpret? Does anyone write about the happy stuff?

I smile to myself as I continue to help them stumble through these books, because I know that the questions themselves, are the very answer they have yet to see. I smile because I know for generations before me, parents have smiled this same, small smile,as they have reached the same conclusion: Maybe, just maybe, my kids will learn to think for themselves.


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