If you read my blog post last week, you’ll recall that I snobbishly wished my children would care more for the books of Roald Dahl than those of Enid Blyton. Little did I know that my younger daughter’s take on Dahl’s stories would land me in trouble.
I was collecting my 7-year old from school the other day when Miss T, her form teacher, approached me.
“Mrs B, could I have a word please?”
Curious and unsuspecting, I followed Miss T into her classroom, trailed by my daughter.
“We’ve been reading The Twits by Roald Dahl,” Miss T said as she reached for a pile of exercise books on her desk, “and as part of our creative writing class, the children have written their own imaginary backstories.”
And my daughter’s writing was obviously brilliant, I thought to myself smugly, that’s what Miss T wants to show me. Well, not quite. The Twits, which I’ve never read myself, tells the story about the ghastly Mr and Mrs Twit, and the children had been tasked with writing a story that explained how and why Mr Twit had become such a mean person.
Miss T handed me my daughter’s writing exercise and asked me to read. I can’t say it was a literary masterpiece, but it was definitely an interesting read. The reason why Mr Twit was so horrid, my daughter explained, was that as a child he had been very poorly treated by his parents, who had bullied him for years. It wasn’t his fault he’d turned into a mean person, it was all because of his cruel parents.
I looked at Miss T who smiled nervously at me. “It’s quite psychological,” she said.
“Her dad is a psychotherapist,” I replied, “and she takes an interest in his work.”
“Oh really, I didn’t know that.”
I couldn’t quite work out if Miss T was impressed with my daughter’s understanding of psychological processes (probably not) or if there was something more sinister going on here.
“We’re not bullying our daughter at home if that’s what you’re wondering,” I reeled, glaring at my child who stood next to me, silent and with an angelic look on her face.
“Of course not,” Miss T laughed awkwardly. “I just thought it was a rather unusual interpretation of the story,” she added.
Indeed. I wondered what the other children had written: evil fairies casting a spell on Mr Twit?
At home that evening, my husband roared with laughter when I told him the story. “Do you think we bully you?” he asked our daughter in jest.
“Kind of, when you take away my toys,” she answered with a look of exaggerated hurt on her face.
“And why do we take away your toys?” my husband asked, no longer laughing.
“Because I’ve been rude and shouting and not listening to you and mummy” she whispered in feigned embarrassment while looking at us with her huge innocent eyes.
She may not be a literary prodigy, but I wouldn’t be surprised if she won an acting award one day.
The Social Services haven’t called on us yet but just to be on the safe side, I’ve put away every book by Roald Dahl we own, and I don’t mind if all we read at night is Enid Blyton.