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Haunted House

March 5, 2014

I keep returning to the house in Open Season on Moms post. What a weird house!

How many people live in houses where there is a hallway between any two bedrooms? I mean, actually I did, but I had 8 brothers and sisters. Most arrangements, you’d just step across the hall.

This is a single mom with a single child and a walkable hall. Really?

  1. Independently wealthy single moms might have such a house, maybe, but with a nanny.
  2. Or high-intensity top-executive single moms might, but such women always get up in the morning. Even if their alarm clocks fail, their circadian rhythms do not.

So why are there so many weird contradictions here, in both the characters and the setting? There could be two reasons, and both are probably at work. The first one is that the story is supposed to elicit a spontaneous response from children who live in every kind of housing and family situation. Responsibility and irresponsibility, courtesy and rudeness, long-suffering love and utter heedlessness co-exist throughout. Any child or no child could identify with it. There is no possible way to mend the story, but attempts to bring it to a close would obviously be telling. It would be interesting to see the scoring on this one.

The second reason for the contradictions is that the general purpose of keeping students off-balance and uncomfortable is nicely met by this kind of more-than-ambiguity. I have seen it before, in materials from the American Psychological Corporation, which drew up the Metropolitan Achievement Test. Weird stuff. Psychological Corporation indeed!

Remember at the end of C. S. Lewis’ story, That Hideous Strength, when the guy is imprisoned in a cell where everything is just a little bit off. Off-plumb, off-square, the arch off-center. So you don’t notice it at first, but then it starts to drive you crazy?

Welcome to school.

 Haunted bus

Not just the house and the Mom. The bus.

When a school bus comes for someone and he doesn’t make it, usually he has friends by the bus windows, watching eagerly to see him, and all the more so if he’s been late a few times before. If he comes out the door as the bus pulls away, they yell to the bus driver, “Stop! Stop! He’s coming!” In this lazy residential area, the bus is about to turn a corner, so it’s doubly easy; it’s not like he’s whipping down the road at 50 mph, surrounded by wild traffic. He could stop.

No response. The bus is as blank and blind as the mom; it might as well have shutters and prisoners. It does.

Where are the children? None on the bus, and no more in the neighborhood either, for as far as the eye can see after the bus pulls away and disappears. Weird.

Getting a different perspective on that hair all on end when he woke up…

Get me out of here.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. ProLIFEmommy permalink
    March 5, 2014 3:03 pm

    Hello Ms. Daly, I have an unrelated question and didn’t know how else to contact you. I have your First Whole Book of Diagrams and am wondering if this is different from you book on Riggs website: The Complete Book of Diagrams? My daughter LOVES diagramming thanks to your creative teaching approach! Thank you!!

  2. March 25, 2014 5:51 pm

    The one on Riggs website has no reference to the “G” word that is forbidden in public school. It is beautiful and was the occasion for my writing some new pages that were later incorporated into the First…Book. Blessings! I know that if people can think, they will be better off, and that is what the diagramming is for.

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