The Dark Side of Development

Last week, my two oldest children got into an argument about the use of stickers. Stirred up by the argument, my son later wrote a threatening letter to his sister. And as unfortunate as the letter itself might have been, the real kicker was this: he signed the letter with his own blood.

Marci and I were concerned, to say the least. Where could he have picked up such a dark and disturbing idea as signing one’s name in blood?!? Was it some occultic ritual he’d absorbed from this Dutch fantasy series he’s been reading in recent months? Had he stumbled across a clip from some horror film on YouTube? Was it something he heard from negative influences at school? What perverse cultural influence had so poluted our sweet, innocent child to come up with the idea to sign a threatening letter in blood?!?

We didn’t know, so we simply asked. Kind of non-chalant-like: “So, umm… Where did you get the idea to sign a letter with blood?”

“From Tom Sawyer.”

Mark Twain’s great classic of American literature. The incomparable epic of boyhood adventure. The story of making mischief and playing practical jokes, playing pirates and discovering buried treasure, trucking in spooky caves and haunted houses. I’d really say that “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” is a must-read for any red-blooded American boy (except, perhaps, for the fact that it apparently stimulates such boys to put their red blood to paper, in imitation of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn). Instead of shock and concern over the influence of some perverse propaganda — I actually felt kind of proud and gratified that my son was boning up on great literature.

Still, I had to ask him what he did to get the blood for his signature.

Turns out it was an Oral-B toothpick, which “always” made his gums bleed when he cleaned his teeth anyway. So not only was my boy processing and assimilating great literature; he was doing it while exercising proper dental hygeine!

Funny, isn’t it, how quickly one’s perception of a situation can change, through just asking a few questions? Unfortunately, there wasn’t a “bright side” to the original argument about stickers or the threatening tone to the pencil part of the letter… But we talked through things and provided some needed correction regarding those items. And in the end, we all came out more educated from the process.

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