After 5 days (and 3 Elly shirt changes) of this sequence, where no one has said a kind or comforting word to him, Lawrence's tears seem to be a reasonable reaction to me. Clearly the joke is one in a theme which Lynn Johnston visited many times over the years, i.e. children use fake tears in order to get what they want. This doesn’t work as well in this case, because Lawrence has a legitimate claim of injury, even if he does think his cast is neat and his injury was a result of his doing something not particularly intelligent.
Despite the use of instantaneous tears as a joke for this strip, it still raises the question as to why Lawrence is crying. Is he:
a. Trying to get sympathy from his mom.
b. Trying to make Elly Patterson look bad. I could go for this one, but we are missing the horrified look on Elly’s face in the final panel to make that one complete.
c. Trying to get his mom to come back home early.
d. Frustrated because he has been several days now unable to go to the bathroom, since he has been shown only able to use the one in his house last summer.
e. Trying to see if there is someone out there who actually cares that he is hurt (aside from us picky face readers).
f. Is finally talking to someone, whom he can trust, to let out his emotions.
It is this last one to which I can most easily relate. Last summer, I was up with our troop of Boy Scouts at the summer scout camp taking care of my boy and a bunch of other boys. At the end of the week, the parents come up and they see what’s been going on during the week. I had thought the week had gone pretty well, but came to discover that one boy had had a miserable time all week, and I had been completely unaware of it. One of the boys with whom he had been sharing a tent had been using obscenities at night time when it was lights out and no one could hear him except this other boy. It was not until his parents were there, did the boy finally tell someone what had been going on, and we were able to deal with the situation. He did not feel comfortable telling the adult leaders or any of the other boys in the camp about it all week long. As one of the adult leaders on the trip, I was not very happy when this happened, to say the least; and I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what I had missed that would have tipped me off something was wrong.
When this story about Lawrence breaking his leg came up again, I had expected to not be terribly happy about either Connie or Elly’s parenting skills. This sequence does present Connie Poirier at her absolute worst. I did not realize on close examination of the strip that we would have 5 days in a row without anyone at all comforting Lawrence. It reminded me of what occurred last summer. Lawrence Poirier is finally talking to his mom, someone he trusts, and crying his eyes out. Who can blame him? That's a lot of trauma for a 6-year-old boy to take on his own.