One thing that really stood out to me is how many rules Bud seems to have internalized. I am surprised by the sheer number of rules but also the fact that the rules are very true and convey a sense of maturity. The rules reflect an honest generalization behind many adult behaviors. For example, rule #118 states that you have to deflect the adult’s attention from something you truly value by giving the false impression that another thing is actually more important. Just by hearing a few keywords such as “haven’t you heard?”, Bud automatically links it to bad news (rule #16). From my perspective, many of his rules all seem grown up and very observatory. Sometimes, his way of perception is unlike what I perceive to be from a “normal” kid. He shouldn’t be so attune to human behavior. Instead he should be out playing and be self-centered as other younglings. But really, Bud’s life is not one of a normal child. A “normal” child lives in a home with a least one parent; there should be a wall of protection separating them from the dangers of being locked in a shed, of hunger and of sleeping under a Christmas tree. This leads me to wonder how life experiences impact a child’s psychological growth. How do Bud’s unfortunate experiences, which forced him to be independent at a very young age, affect his perception of childhood? Is there even a childhood past the age of six? Building upon the blog post of “Addressing Difficult Subjects in Children’s Literature”, I ask, is it the adult’s tendency to protect the child that created a childhood for our children? If our tendency to protect is absent, would there still be childhood if children experiences the real life issues as Bud had?
There are other instances where I see glimpses of a child in Bud. For example, when Bud and Bug mixed slobs to seal their brotherhood or when they flipped coins to decide who will go and talk to the people in Hooverville. He didn’t even notice that whether it is heads or tails, he will lose! In addition, the whole incidence of believing that Herman E. Calloway was his father further illustrates his child-ness. Bud believed that if you think the same way, you must be related because only blood kin think the same way. His deductive reasoning really struck me because that’s how many children thinks. They haven’t learned that many things can have multiple explanations. Yet, this observation leads me to wonder whether this ignorance offsets the maturity in Bud’s perceptions and observations of his surroundings. To me, this contradictory tension in addressing what childhood is through an examination of Bud’s unusual experiences is very interesting. In the end, I can only conclude that childhood is a highly complex concept and cannot be viewed as simply one idea.