It was a long time ago. My baby girl was six or seven. Now she has breasts and her own opinions. It was the season to be jolly--that serene and peaceful time of joy and retail sucess that we call the holidays--somewhere between Thanksgiving, Christmas, Kwanzaa and New Years Day (and probably seven or eight more that I either I can't think of or spell). We were watching the same classic programs on television that I loved when I was her age. That particular night: Frosty the Snowman.
This was in the mid-nineties, after the devastation of crack cocaine to small, urban communties like ours. There was a wonderful program in the schools. Police officers taught kids about the dangers of drugs. Project D.A.R.E. I have no idea what those letters stand for now. Something about drugs and resistance and education, I guess. It's a wonderful, needful thing in these dark times, and I was glad it was available for her.
So we're watching Frosty, and I'm watching Abeje, loving the joy and innocence I see shining in her little brown eyes, when suddenly her expression changed. Her eyes grew wide with horror. I searched the television screen to see what was causing her reaction, when she started pointing wildly to the television.
"What is it, Abby?"
"Frosty the Snowman is on drugs!!!!!!!!"
I stared at the screen wondering what on earth was making my child think Frosty was a crackhead.
It was that corncob pipe.
Oh no! Project D.A.R.E. taught my child that all tobacco use was drug use. Cigarettes, corncob pipes--maybe especially corncob pipes. It was all dope. And could ruin you. Indeed, destroy you and your community.
What was in that corncob pipe, anyway? I wondered if there was more than magic in that old silk hat they found. Where did they find it? Is magic another name for some new and dangerous street pharmacuetical. Like Ecstasy? Or God help us, Angel Dust?
Lord have mercy!
I never saw Frosty the Dopeman--uh, I mean Snowman, in the same way again, and I was never able to convince my daughter that the beloved character didn't need a 12 step program.
That just goes to show you. Sometimes, the best teaching can be terribly misinterpreted.
So take heart.
"It's true that moral guidance and counsel need to be given, but the way you say it, and to whom you say it are as important as what you say." (I Tim. 1:8 The Message)
"Be cunning as a snake, inoffensive as a dove." (Matt. 10:16 The Message)
In love and fear of what made those misfit toys misfits,