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Parenting 101

Free Rein's picture

Responsive parenting plays a major role in children’s development of cognitive and social skills. It shapes the growth and development of the child considering the various frameworks involved (social, cultural, educational) and not compromising any single one of them. Well, most of us can lose count of the number of times either your mother or father whipped you hard due to uncouthly behaviour. Looking closely in All Over Creation, responsive parenting was wanting in Lloyd Fuller’s household.

Yummy is a victim of early teenage pregnancies after indulging herself into a scandalous relationship with her ninth-grade teacher, Elliot Rhodes. In company of Elliot and Cass, she went ahead and aborted the child. When they got back home, they met their parents raging with anger, zealously waiting for them like preys because apparently, someone had informed them of their daughters’ moves. When Lloyd demanded to know what, they were up to in Pocatello, she lied that they were only having milkshakes. The information kind of paralleled the one her father had but as if that was not enough, she had the audacity to stand up and look her father into the eye and say, “To celebrate my abortion” (201). This time around, she wasn’t lucky enough because she was beaten severely. Cass was also punished by her father who, at this juncture, made me view him as the icon of good parenting. He did not want to tolerate such behaviour in her, thus beat her for her friend’s mistake.

However, Lloyd did not punish Yummy for her pregnancy. He punished her for the fact that she had aborted. He said,” What gives you the right? What gives you the authority to take an innocent life? …It’s a sin against God, Yumi! Don’t you see? ...God creates life, only He can choose to end it” (201/202). In response to her father, Yummy said, “It’s not a sin, it’s my body. It’s my fucking life…” Did Lloyd condone Yummy’s pregnancy? From Lloyd’s letters to his loyal customers, he used biblical quotes. “Lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the Tree of Life, and eat, and live forever” [Genesis 4:21] (105). The bible clearly states that no sexual intercourse before marriage and moreover, it further stipulates the issue of being good and responsible parents to children.

After sometime, Yummy fled from her parent’s home. She also left to abstain from the guilt and shame of facing her own father because her affair with her history teacher was on everyone’s lips in town. After leaving and staying for a long time with no one knowing of her whereabouts, she decided to write to her parents. Her father was suffering from colorectal cancer and had had two heart attacks, the first which is said to have been initiated by Yummy’s departure, while her mother suffered from the Alzheimer’s disease; dementia.

The kind of language Yummy used in her epistles was vulgar and disrespectful. She wrote, “Don’t worry about me. Don’t bother writing back unless you want to, but I should warn you that I’m not ever coming back to Liberty Falls.” (38)” I hate you.” (40)” Dear Lloyd, Fuck you.” (41)” Well, I haven’t heard from you for a really long time, so here’s the news: whether you like it or not, you have a new grandson. If you want to know his name, you can write and ask me…This is the last one you are going to get.” (44) If Yummy had been brought up well, she would have used polite words. As you bring a child, so he will be-Swahili proverb.

When she returned home after twenty-five years of missing in action, she was accompanied by her three mixed-race illegitimate children in tow; Phoenix, Ocean and Barnabas. While they are catching up with Cass at Pocatello Airport, Phoenix blurted, “Oh, Yummy, that’s such crap.” (61) He barely called her mother and lacked respect for her. Ocean is witty yet more like her brother. They lack courtesy even for their grandfather who is ailing. At the hospital, Ocean told Lloyd, “Yes, Mommy said we must be nice to you because you are dying, but I’m not going to.” (74) Yummy doesn’t take any measures to refrain them from using that kind of language.

When she enrolls them in a school at Liberty Falls, Phoenix is involved in two scandals and in one of them, he is taken to jail. He is said to have been in possession of a knife. Yummy did nothing about it and Will comes in handy to talk to Phoenix. From the tome, The Harvest of the years, that Geek found in Lloyd’s bookshelf, it stated, “Back of every plant, every shellfish, every burrowing rodent or ravaging animal, and back of every human being, there stretches an illimitable and mysterious heredity…”.” The words were familiar. Ocean was studying my face, listening intently, so I read on.” …The new-born child has a heritage of tendencies and inclinations which furnish the foundation or groundwork from which he must build his house of Life.” I closed the book. “I don’t get it,” Ocean said.” There’s too many big words.”” It just means that you’ll probably be like your mom in some ways,” Geek said.” Oh, goodie.” She snuggled in closer to me” (177/178).

I don’t want to fall into the very trap of being judgemental, but I don’t think Ocean wanted to imagine being like or anything close to Yummy at any one point in her life. Why? In my own view, I feel that Ocean had seen the kind of parent Yummy had been. Being raised by a single mother and all of them belonging to different fathers. How irresponsible she was. How she had neglected her own parents and depended on others to take care of them on her behalf. Albeit her children had interspersed traits from hers, I believe that they had acquired them from other good people like Will and Cass and not from their own mother.

Works Cited.

L.Ozeki Ruth. All Over Creation. New York: Penguin. 2004. Print    



Anne Dalke's picture

Free Rein--
I’m interested—and liking—the way you’ve given this draft a larger frame, in developmental psychology. And I’m also a little startled by the claim, in the first paragraph, that “most of us can lose count of the number of times either your mother or father whipped you hard due to uncouthly behaviour.” Who is the group that encompasses “most”? Your classmates? How familiar are you with the parenting practices in their homes?

The opening paragraph ends by indicating that your argument will be that “responsive parenting was wanting in Lloyd Fuller’s household.” But as the paper gathers steam, you seem instead to be gathering evidence of all the “vulgar and disrespectful” ways that Yumi spoke to her parents, and the “discourteous” ways that her children, in turn, spoke both to her and her father.

I have a couple of factual questions about this catalogue: what in the text suggests, for example, that Yumi was beaten severely by her father? And if Ocean says “goodie,” in response to the prediction that she will be like her mom, what evidence can you find in the text to support your claim that she really doesn’t want to be like her? You see Yumi as irresponsible, neglectful of her children—but where does the novel suggest that Ocean sees these things?

I’m also confused about the claim that emerges from the quotes you use: you end with a long passage about “heredity,” the “heritage of tendencies and inclinations” that are the groundwork for a new-born child. How does that work to sum up the range of quotes you’ve gathered, which are all about what the child learns? And how does it fit with your final claim that, while Yumi’s children learned misbehavior from her, they learn from others whatever good traits they have?

In short, I end confused: what, finally, is your thesis? And what are the textual details that support it?

We’ll also need to think together, in your writing conference this Tuesday, about your next paper: does this draft have an emergent third one in it (one that you really can “grow”?), or might you be ready to start drafting a new paper about The Collapse of Civilization?