A lot of parents will be aware of the book, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt. My wife was aware of this book long before becoming a parent as she works with children, while I knew it from my childhood as a sort of game, but only game across the book fairly recently. The thing is, the versions we know are quite different.
My wife knows the book version, which goes (roughly, from memory):
We’re going on a bear hunt.
We’re going to catch a big one.
We’re not scared.
What a lovely day.
I know a version from my pre-school days that goes (this was done is a sort of statement response style):
We’re going on a bear hunt (we’re going on a bear hunt)
We’re not scared (we’re not scared)
Got our gun by our side (got our gun by our side)
And bullets too (and bullets too)
This is a bone of contention between my wife and I. She feels that guns have no place in a children’s story, while I feel that hunting a bear without a gun is pretty stupid and the family in the book (who appear to have confused bears with butterflies, since they’ve brought a net with them) are just asking for trouble.
Still, the rest of the story plays out pretty much the same in each of our versions; they negotiate a number of hazards (river, mud, etc…) with accompanying sound effects, then eventually meet a bear and run back home. What wasn’t really clear in my childhood version, but is made clear by the illustrations in the book, is that the bear is actually chasing the family all the way home and then returns to his cave on the last page, looking very sad. Again this causes some disagreement, as my wife tells it that the bears is sad because he wanted to play, while I maintain that you’d be sad too if your takeaway turned up and then ran off before you could eat it.
All that said, I am quite happy for my wife to have her version and for me to have mine. I can fully understand that she doesn’t want violence in her children’s story… or I could until this morning. While playing with our son, I heard her sing the following (or something close):
Three little monkeys swinging in a tree,
Teasing Mr Crocodile, can’t catch me.
Along came the crocodile, quiet as can be,
And snapped one monkey out of that tree.
So, taking a perfectly reasonable precaution while hunting bears is not allowed, but monkeys being eaten by crocodiles is what? Just part of the great circle of life? Her argument on being confronted by this was that it was ok for the monkey to get eaten because it was being cheeky… I dread to think what will happen if my son ever does something really naughty.