Thursday, May 8, 2014

Zoe vs. Dr. Seuss

Hop on Pop was in the news recently. Someone wanted to ban the Dr. Seuss book claiming it promotes violence against fathers. As if Dr. Seuss came up with the idea of toddler-on-parent abuse instead of simply writing from observation. I'd gladly submit to a little light hopping if it meant I'd avoid Zoe's more regular full-contact love. Come to think of it, she has beaned me with a book quite a few times. Perhaps I should rethink my rigid anti-book-banning stance.

Purveyor of perverse prose
priming preschoolers for punching.

I've always been an avid reader, and I wanted Zoe to be one too. At least I thought I did. Until story time, like many other words that end in "time," became another battle of wills. 
Before I wised up, she'd ask to read the same book over and over, and I'd be stuck in Dr. Seuss mode for a good hour after putting her to bed. I'd sit on the couch with The Husband---along with dear friends Ben and Jerry---and find myself saying, "With spoon in my hand, and eyes on my treat, I'll fill myself up from my head to my feet."
Clearly I had to impose a limit. Three stories total, read one time each. 
All well and good. Except. Not all children's book are created equal.
Some are more annoying than others. Some grow to be annoying with repetition; some are tiresome right out of the gate. The latter tend to be the interactive ones. For instance, they play music when you press a button---or more like when your Precious Joy presses the button over and over until the batteries are all but dead and then it's even more annoying as the recorded bits cut off in the middle and Dear Heart can't understand why so she keeps pressing that button until one of two things happen: you lose your mind or . . . no, just the one thing.
Then there are the books that ask questions/interrogate the child or direct the child to imitate sounds. So far I've been able to sidestep those because she can't read. I can either skip those lines or make something up.
The final interactive type are the lift-the-flap books. Owing to Zoe's OCD she never misses a flap, and if her lift is incomplete or somehow less than satisfying (satisfaction being a constantly moving target), we must start over from the beginning. Yay!
If it's a new book, a fun thing she'll do is hold the book up, splayed open, teacher style. I'm sure she's learned that from story time at school. The imitation is cute but also frustrating because she only does it with new books, never one I've unintentionally inadvertently unwillingly memorized; and she holds it just far enough away and keeps moving so that even if I can make the words out I get seasick.

The four sisters shared 1 love seat
1 cat, 1 dog, 1 ventriloquist's dummy
1 book, 3 pairs of legs, and 1 colon.

Currently her favorite books are all ones I hated right from the first reading. I try to remove them from her room when she's not looking but this usually backfires because she notices they're gone and then searches the apartment, adding even more time to the nightly routine.
The first of these obscenities is a Sesame Street book about exercise, and it plays music with the aforementioned half-dead batteries. "Elmo loves to p---" "Up and d---" "Back and f---". 
The second one's a lift-the-flap book, with a Christmas theme, because it's May, and though only eight grueling pages, when you get to the end, when you think it's almost over, the pain is just beginning because the final two-page spread is an advent calendar with windows from 1 to 25 that she must open, in order, correctly (according to her slippery definition) or she must start again.
Finally, there's her Dr. Seuss anthology, which contains six stories, and every night she tries to pull a fast one and act like it only counts as one story and I have to set her straight. Every night.
Only one of the stories in this book is a Seuss standard while the others are either written or illustrated by also-rans. Her favorite is The Tooth Book, whose general mediocrity drives me batty, but also because there's a page which recommends, quite rightly, not to eat too many sweets, but when we get to that page the message gets pushed aside and she wants me to tick off each cake, pie, cookie, ice cream, etc., Billy Billings is eating while his teeth rot right out of his face, and then, though she and I both know she agrees with Billy's underlying philosophy, we have to castigate him. "That's bad," she says, with the utmost seriousness. "You don't do that." Nope, you sure don't, not on a boat, not with a goat. 
The Tooth Book ends with the sound advice: Don't bite your dentist. But then undoes all that good by saying, "Bite someone else instead." Really? As if she needs the encouragement. I must write to my local politician.
Zoe: 43: Universe: 0


  1. Lol. I have a post draft somewhere talking about how I fall asleep reading these books to him over and over and fucking over again. Damn you, Horton Hears a Who! Why did Dr. Seuss write such long children's books?? He is laughing at us right now. That's why. He wanted to laugh at people from his grave. The end.

  2. Oh my gosh--LIZ!! As usual, I love every single thing about this post. You have me laughing from start to finish with your witty thoughts and comments. And I feel you, I really do. I am an avid reader and want my boys to be, too--but I can think of a couple of books that I want to take a shit on and then throw out the window...

  3. Deb, I feel you. I've found myself actually dreaming while reading to her and I've sort of come to realizing I'd just said something that didn't make sense. Never been so tired I hallucinated until I had Zoe.

  4. Thanks, Shay! Just a "couple"? I have some more candidates for you that can be sullied the next time either of us gets food poisoning!

  5. I am right there feeling your pain. The bane of my existence are the seek and find books. We have to find each and every thing and pretend like we've never found them before. Oh, gee I wonder where that snowflake is. Maybe it moved since the last time we read the book....

  6. I forgot about those, Ponies! Ugh, the worst.