Friday, April 06, 2012
By Anne Fine
Simon is a high school student and his class has a new assignment: they are each given a five pound sack of flour that they are to take care of for 2 weeks. At the end of the two weeks, the sacks will be evaluated and weighed and graded according to their condition. The idea is to give the kids a taste of the responsibility involved in child care.
Simon's mom is a single parent ever since Simon's dad walked out on her, leaving her with the sole responsibility of raising her baby son all on her own. Simon has never come to terms with the absence of his father, but dealing with the responsibility of caring for his sack of flour has given him a glimpse of the sacrifices his mother had to make to raise him all on her own.
Most of the flour baby boys find their assignment irksome, including Simon. One of the boys kicks his flour baby into a creek, totally fed up with taking care of it. Simon takes pretty good care of his, but still it ends up dirty and leaking flour. He views his own failure with the flour baby as the clue to understanding how his father could so completely turn his back on the infant Simon and Simon's mom.
This was an OK story. Simon is hurting because of his father's absence but comes to realize that sometimes life hands people more responsibility than they can cope with. It doesn't excuse the man's absence but Simon does gain some comfort from that realization.