La vie en J800


When you have small children, picture books can be the bane of your existence.

And I don’t just mean the “No, MUST you read it AGAIN!” kind of bane.

I mean the oh crap, having kids has completely killed my brain, these children have taken over my life, why can’t we ever have nice things, MAKE IT STOP kind of bane.

I have no fewer than eight picture books committed perfectly to memory.  I can, and have, recited a work by Mem Fox at my cranky toddlers in the dark, on a road trip, in a desperate attempt to convince them that really, it was okay to fall asleep in the car rather than continue to make everyone miserable.

With not-twins straddling the ages of 3 and 4, illustrated books about kindly bunnies and space-exploring robots define the mythos from which I draw daily metaphor.  At first, that doesn’t sound so bad, because all the English teachers I have ever known had this soft spot for a clever comparison of Shakespeare and Seuss, but it’s more than that.

I have quoted a book about a talking hedgehog while in bed with my partner.

And if you have small children, I bet you can understand how that might have happened.

So, in honor of how completely picture books have subsumed my life, I present the first installment of what I hope will become a regular feature:

My Life in Five Picture Books

IMG_2060Noisy Nora by Rosemary Wells

There is no surer method of engendering chaos in our house right now than using the word “Wait.”  I was really hoping this was a threenager problem, but Númenor is 4.5 and it’s not getting any better.  Send chocolate.

IMG_2064ishby Peter H. Reynolds

Númenor is a budding perfectionist– and that means he’s ALWAYS miserable about his work and how it has fallen short of his inspiration.  It breaks my heart, especially when he is excited working and then he stops to look at his progress and he just melts.

IMG_2072Pierre: A Cautionary Tale in Five Chapters and a Prologue by Maurice Sendak

So, when you have little kids, they spend a lot of time justifying their actions to you in ways that simply do not compute.  You say “Those aren’t for throwing, let’s get out the soft toys to throw.” and they say “I was just throwin’ it at the window!” and you say “Yes, that’s the problem, the window is glass and glass is fragile.” and they say “I was just thowin’ it gen-ta-lee to not break the window!”…and then, dear reader, you might be tempted to say something like “I don’t care how gently you throw it, those are not okay to throw.”  If you make this miscalculation, your 3-year-old may well latch onto that little phrase and come to believe that “I don’t care” = “screw you and your way of doing things”.  And then you will hear your darling child respond to you saying “come here” by screaming “I DON’T CAY-YUR!”  Send a lion.

IMG_2063Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion

If you know one thing about the Gorge, you know that it’s windy here.  If you know two things, you know why this book made the list.  It’s August and my back yard is pretty much just one huge dirt bath for chickens and children alike.  The smalls came in from the yard yesterday and it was like the scene from the Disney version of Mary Poppins where Michael almost gets past Mr. Banks because he’s so caked with soot his own father doesn’t recognize him– they had little circles of basically them-colored skin around their eyes, but everything else was alien terrain.  We had to drain the water and run a new bath TWICE before the description was ameliorated to “dirty”.

IMG_2066Mama, Do You Love Me? by Barbara M. Joosse

Three mornings out of five this summer I have been awakened by two enthusiastic little humans jumping on my bed while insisting that they are, contrary to all appearances, baby dragons.  At first, I responded to this in a sane way by saying “Okay, but please be gentle, because only gentle baby dragons are allowed in my house!” which inevitably made the situation worse.  And then, this week, I hit upon “If you are baby dragons, I am your mommy dragon!  I am big and fierce, but I will be gentle to you because you are my babies.”  DING!  Winner!

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