Skip to content

Animal Rights Activist

Rada spends hours directing her stuffed animals through tense dramas. She covers issues such as power, war, bullying, pushing to the front of the line, and — with her carnivores — who gets to eat whom.

At one time I saw these play sessions as opportunities to teach morals and good citizenship, but I’ve long given up trying to impose any ethical direction. The scenarios are much more complex than most foreign political situations and often there is no moral compass: it boils down to who ever is biggest and strongest gets to stomp on the other one. That’s life in the forest.

But there is one trend in her play sessions that I find objectionable. It concerns Mumble the stuffed penguin. Mumble always seems to get assigned the part of the scapegoat. He is the one who gets punished, yelled at, and sent to the back of the line. He isn’t particularly strong or powerful, but he’s always the one who gets caught doing something wrong. No one seems to like Mumble and he has no friends.

Of course, I am assigned the job of playing Mumble. Recently I have started to refuse any scripts that put him in the position of ‘bad penguin’. This frustrates my daughter, but I am holding my ground. Mumble has every right to play the star and shine sometimes.

It irks me how much she wants to use a scapegoat. I wonder if its hard-wired into human nature. Even so, its still worth fighting against.

{ 1 } Comments

  1. Stacy | August 13, 2009 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    Very interesting! I wonder if Rada is trying to work out some personal issues with Mumble. Maybe Mumble represents someone at school, or maybe she is Mumble to some degree (aren’t we all?). I’m sure it is frustrating to watch a poor helpless penguin be treated in such a way. I suppose there is a fine line between playing along and letting Rada take the lead, even if someone’s feelings get hurt, and stepping in and trying to empower Mumble and make a teachable moment.