One of the first things I do Sunday morning is sit down with the Sunday comics and a mug of coffee. Most of the time it is pure leisure. This week I found two timely toons. One, unsurprisingly, is Doonesbury on the reporting of sexual assault in the military through the chain of command — and why it remains a bad idea.
The next was a surprise. It’s a strip called Baby Blues, and it’s about a family with small children. The dad was teaching his son about field goals, and recollects an older, very popular cartoon. Peanuts, as you probably know, would often feature Lucy holding a football for Charlie Brown, and yanking it away at the last minute. The dad in Baby Blues finds that hilarious. The son slumps inside, and tells his older sister that Dad finds bullying funny.
(http://www.babyblues.com/index.php, from Dec 8, 2013)
Considering the popularity and longevity of Peanuts, this felt like a jolt. But a “right on” kind of jolt, when some behavior you’d taken for granted even if uncomfortably gets a label and suddenly is more clear (even if it is cartoon characters).
I’m certainly not saying we should toss Peanuts in the trash, far from it! Everyone, at some point, feels like a Charlie Brown. And you may know a Lucy Van Pelt (I worked for one once, and I sure did feel like good ol’ Charlie more than every so often back then). It’s a reminder that there are callous folk out there who make promises and renege on them, for their own amusement.
And this was a comic. And it was funny and poignant. And some adults have a hard time recognizing bullying (unless they directly see the pain it causes to their own children, and even then not always). Because it was OK as in normal, typical, kids will be kids. They’ll get over it.
Most will. Some won’t.
How do you recount your past to the next generation?