Posts Tagged ‘Dr. Seuss’

Red Fish Blue Fish

19 June 2010

Dear J-

One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish repeats a few phiilsophical couplets: “From there to here, from here to there, funny things are everywhere.” Today I either had to laugh or yell, and I chose not to yell — I need to keep it up; one day is a start, but one day isn’t forever, as I mean it to be. You choose the humor in the situation, and it doesn’t make any sense to see it any way that would aggravate yourself. Society does enough of that for us, after all.

There’s a more salient section, though:

Did you ever fly a kite in bed?
Did you ever walk with ten cats on your head?
Did you ever milk this kind of cow?
Well, we can do it. We know how.
If you never did, you should.
These things are fun and fun is good.

Its one way to raise a sociopath, I suppose — allowing the crazy to run unfettered in the pursuit of fun, and those of you at our local Target might well accuse me of doing just that. I see it as an extension of the dedication phrase — learn to see the fun in anything, everything, and you’re on your way to enjoying life versus complaining about it. So long as she’s not actively hurting other people and not breaking merchandise, I’m inclined to leave her on a long leash. It’s how we learn.

My brother was fond of reminding me that when I was little — so little that I either can’t remember it, or I’ve successfully supressed it — I broke a glass display at one of the fancy stores in Spokane. Keeping with the unreliable narrator theme, I was either horsing around or climbing on it, both of which boil down to the same clumsy cause, but I’m sure I had a good reason for it (I wanted to, or I needed to), just as figgy has good reasons for saying no as much as she does. Stubborn hearts collide in pitched battles; what we seek is not dominance but freedom — to do what we want when we want how we want. That fight begins within, trying to relearn the courage we had at three to let the heart take the lead more often.

Mike

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4 February 2010

Dear J-

We’ve been reading a fair number of Dr. Seuss books lately, so my dark quiet mornings are filled with finding words to rhyme (it’s not easy to find something that matches “Encinitas” or “Leucadia”). One of the blurbs on the back of the books is a quote from Ellen Goodman how Geisel delivered a karate-chop to Dick and Jane by taking two hundred words and dreaming up Green Eggs and Ham. I think the real relief was from parents who find the stories far more amusing to read out loud than, say, Pat the Bunny (Now YOU do ___).

There are different tiers of Seuss silliness; on the one hand you have the smaller books, starting with Hop on Pop and including the iconic Cat in the Hat and the already-noted Ham which are suited for younger folks: lots of repetition, little words, silly antics and pictures (me, I still remember the absurdity of embedding a toy boat in a cake from when I was little). Then there’s the bigger books, like the various Hortons and Sneetches which are much more sophisticated and richer stories overall. I don’t think the small books aren’t without merit — they’re fun to read, even if you end up going sing-song halfway through — but there’s a clear difference in storytelling quality.

I know there must have been more worthy children’s literature published in the last twenty years or so, but yesterday we had Make Way for Ducklings, Horton Hatches the Egg, and The Marshmallow Incident (Judi and Ron Barrett) and of the three, my least favorite was Marshmallow. It makes me feel like a consummate snob: oh yes, we’ll read that, but we may not enjoy it; the classics, you know, are so much better. Yet part of it is my own ignorance of contemporary authors; I’ve read good things from Mo Willems, for instance, but haven’t taken the step of picking any up. It’s easier to keep revisiting the classics, as that doesn’t require the same investment in research and screening, but I’m sure I’d be surprised and impressed by the authors of today.

Mike