Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Ben's Pick of the Week: Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?

As we make our way through the month of giving thanks, we have been exploring a lot of Thanksgiving themed books.  When I brought home Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are? by Dr. Seuss from the library, Ben immediately recognized it as a book they had from his class.  He thought the image of the man telling his story from atop a prickly cactus was hilarious.

This past week, we've read the book several dozen times, and I'm not quite sure what to make of it.  The gist is that we should all consider ourselves incredibly lucky because out there in the crazy world there are many many other people who are much more unfortunate than we are.  This is a tricky lesson.  On the one hand, I certainly agree that we should all count our blessings and be grateful for what we have.  But on the other hand, I'm not sure this should be simply because there are other people who have it worse than us.  And, I also think that even though there is probably always someone who does have it worse, we all have the right to be sad or feel unhappy about things once in awhile.   Grief and sadness aren't comparative emotions

That being said, Ben is three years old, so I don't think he needs a comprehensive analysis of the message.  He appreciates the basic idea - that we all have so much to be grateful for - and loves the illustrations and rhymes and silly made up words.  Which brings me to my next dilemma with Dr. Seuss.  I love Dr. Seuss.  I loved him so much as a child and have so many fond memories or working out his stories, falling in love with the characters, and simply treasuring his words.  But, one of the things I have been emphasizing with Ben is to "use his words" - to be clear about his emotions and needs.  One thing he does when he is shutting down is start making up words.  I see it as a screen - something to distract from his need to address his feelings.  So, we're working hard on finding ways to enjoy silly words - like many children, Ben has always had a fascination with language, repeating words, making rhymes- and I want him to continue this love of words.  But, not at the expense of learning to communicate with his real words.  A struggle that is a bit off point and not truly relevant to this book - but a reminder that we find our lessons and encounter our challenges in the oddest of places.  This won't stop me from bringing Dr. Seuss into our home, but it is a reminder for me to be more mindful of it when I do.

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