A Window into Life in the Suburbs

"Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these." Luke 12:27 (NIV)

Monday, September 6, 2010

Tattletale Tot

There's an episode of Spongebob Squarepants which features a serial killer at large known as the Tattletale Strangler. Assuming that he's modelled after the infamous Boston Strangler, this sinister character is at large in Bikini Bottom, waiting to strike when an unsuspecting soul turns informant. Spongebob catches the Tattletale Strangler in the act of littering and reports him to the police. Hilarity ensues when the naive Spongebob enlists the Strangler to be his bodyguard and the latter bides his time for the opportune moment to exact revenge on the world's most famous sponge. As this is Spongebob Squarepants, nothing quite turns out the way one might expect. The diabolical Strangler (spotting the right kind of moustache and laugh), who waits patiently at first to be alone with his victim, is nonetheless frustated at every turn by well-meaning friends

Perhaps you find it a little disturbing that even though I claim to be a grown up, I have working knowledge of an incredibly popular whacky cartoon show about talking sea creatures that devour hamburgers. I am a mum afterall. Actually, more often than not, I listen in while I'm cleaning or cooking. But underneath that silly facade, SS really is a very clever show... insanely clever... and at times enormously funny.

There is a moral to this story... well, sort of... Tattletales are scorned by their community for breaking rank. Kind of. Maybe. Justice, however, must be done. Good must overcome evil. Because in the end, the Tattletale Strangler gets his just desserts.

Children carry tales as a matter of instinct and become despised for their efforts. They may do it for attention or out of a noble desire to see justice done. Mostly, they enjoy seeing their offending siblings squirm and sweat.

When they grow older, tattletale evolve into informants, whistleblowers, rats, snitches, squealers, stool pigeons... the terms are used flexibly depending on which side of the courtroom you happen to be sitting.
Justice and loyalty, two virtues, are, in such instances, at cross purposes.

Our 3 year old is a natural tattletale... so in retaliation the 9 year old returns the favour.
"L is reading and eating..."
"S is touching your craft things, Mum..."
"L is hurting me..."
"S is pinching me..."

And on it goes... appealing to a higher authority in search of justice...  as they are powerless to defend their interests.

Children understand justice... in a self-serving way... Retribution, they soon learn, though instantly gratifying, leads to anarchy and time out or other loss of privileges.
But after a while they also know that justice must come from an external source. An impartial, external source.

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