One of Lucy's favourite stories:
Once upon a time, there was a naughty little girl, who smoked and also liked to light fires; she was a FIRE BUG. One day, she lit a fire at the beach, and all the grasses burned and all the shrubs in the back dunes, and all the trees as well. And the animals had no where to go, they ran away from the fire which burned and burned and burned. And the poor animals had to run to the city because their homes burned, poor things, and they were very sad. And the beach was ruined and people couldn't swim there and people were sad too. But the police caught that naughty firebug and sent her in front of a judge in a COURT OF LAW. The judge said she was very naughty and sent her to jail where there was no telly and no nice food. And serve her right, that naughty firebug.
Our kids pick up all sorts of cues that we are not even aware of. But I feel it is useful to really hammer home important life lessons. Subtlety is for the weak.
This story also makes me realise that even after decades working as a sociologist, I am clearly seduced by a punishment rather than rehabilitation paradigm.
Lucy has just been introduced to Struwwelpeter and she loves it. It's falling apart and so she's not allowed to touch - which adds to its mystery and desirability - and in the morning over cornflakes we read about kids getting burned while playing with matches and starving because they won't eat the soup. I've not yet introduced her to the kid who sucks his thumbs and has them cut off by a ruthless scissor-hand creature; as an erstwhile thumbsucker I still find that a little too close to home.