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Seriously? I Didn't See This Coming?

Could someone please tell me exactly what
I was smoking when I agreed yesterday to allow Maddie to bring home
a cartoon biography DVD about Helen Keller from the library.

I didn’t think much of it, except to make sure it
wasn’t too long. I vaguely remember thinking, “Well,
it’s inspirational, and it’s better than Bob the
Builder!” And that was the extent of my Mommy Alarm sounding.

I’ve got to get the batteries in that thing checked.

We popped the video in last night –
RIGHT BEFORE BED, no less – and let the girls watch. As the
movie opens, a cartoon toddler Helen smilingly chases a butterfly
across the lawn. Thirty seconds later, the doctor’s telling
her parents that, due to three weeks of fever, Helen will never
hear or see again. The parents dissolve into sobs.

At which point Maddie says dubiously, “This video’s

I’m standing in the kitchen, staring at the screen and
willing it to miraculously (and unnoticeably) turn into Sesame
Street. This does not happen.

For the next twenty minutes, both girls sit motionless on the couch
as Helen throws a fit, throws sausages, throws silverware. Helen
cries. Helen screams. Helen begs for her parents, who then send her
away with the evil governess so they won’t be tempted to
intervene in the obedience lessons Annie Sullivan’s giving
Helen. Riveting stuff, you really can’t beat it for
preschooler entertainment.

A friend of mine suggested I pretend the t.v. broke suddenly in
mid-video. But I couldn’t turn the thing off without the
girls seeing the happy ending, so I sat on the couch and watched
them, faces identically frozen in shocked disbelief. I could
practically see “Hey, this could happen to me”
scrolling through their brains.

Unfortunately for those of us who wish for happy endings, the
cartoon story stopped right after the famous scene when Helen
learns to “talk” at the water pump. Maddie turned to
me, betrayal etched on her face, and said, “I thought you
said she became famous! I thought this was an inspirational

“She did! It is!” I said desperately. “She became
really famous and traveled all over the world, never letting her
problems slow her down!” Both girls shook their heads
skeptically as the walked off to bed, stunned and shell-shocked
into silence.

I rushed through bedtime, trying to avoid too many questions. Cora
couldn’t understand why the girl threw away so many perfectly
good sausages, but Maddie was harder to deflect. We had plenty of
questions, especially about the disease (probably meningitis) Helen
contracted which left her deaf and blind. After learning that she
would NEVER contract that disease because she gets vaccines, Maddie
was somewhat reassured, but let me tell you, that was a long and
painful night-night.

Please don’t let me go to the library with them alone again.
I’m afraid we’ll come home with Shindler’s


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