Becoming Naomi Leon provides great insight into what it means to be a child. Many of the children’s books we have read thus far have been fantasy based, and about rules, socialization and play. However, through Owen, Naomi and other child characters a more common reality of childhood is brought to light. Naomi’s classmates demonstrate that children are cruel and do things that adults know not to do, like calling a child that does not appear “normal” retarded (page 68). Additionally, adults know that different languages and cultural backgrounds allow for name diversity, but the children in Naomi’s class don’t like her last name and make cruel jokes about it. In fact the very reason that Naomi eats in the library with Mr. Marble is because she thought it was the place for “the left over kids” (page 57).
Children can also be very forgiving, this quality is demonstrated by Owen, who forgives his mother when she attempts to remove his tape, “it’s alright you didn’t know” he said (page 21). Another example is when a bully at school pulled off his tape, and after getting up from his fake seizure, he told Naomi that, they were just teasing. Owen represents the positive side of childhood perception, he believes in good luck, he forgives his mother for her absence, and schoolmates for bullying him. Owen, however, also represents the unwanted child, desperate to feel wanted, his face was the only one lighting up when his mother was around, and even when she neglected to give him gifts or called him names and made fun of his tape, he still maintained hope for their relationship.
Children have a keen ability to discern, which Naomi demonstrates when she recognizes what kind of hug her mother wasn’t giving them, “it was not the I-havent-seen-you-in-seven-years type of hug” (page 21). Additionally, she was able to discern between her great-grandmother’s different worried looks, and she knew that the night Skyla returned her great-grandmother had a look that said something bad was going to happen. She also noticed that the yellow and purple curlers were too cheerful, for her grandmother’s face. Naomi shows this discernment again, when she said, “but did Gram really think that ice cream would make up for Skyla leaving us again?” (page 75). In relation to discernment, Naomi herself points out that children should not be lied to, that adults should understand that children can handle the truth (page 80). This causes me to believe that adults hide the truth from children for selfish reasons rather than to protect them (Naomi’s Gram admits that she had already gotten attached and did not want to loose them).
Other ideas of children presented is that they never forget and they can bring comfort to distressed adults. When Naomi and Owen find their Gram at the table looking very worried, and she begins to recite the story for them, they carry-on reciting when she is no longer able to. Obviously the children, as young as they are, have not forgotten the story of their mother and their beginnings. Naomi also brought comfort to her distressed Gram on page 29, when she told her that she “filled in real nice” and patted her hand to reassure her that she did a great job raising them.