It Is Good to Have Fun
Today is Theodore Geisel’s (a.k.a. Dr. Seuss’) birthday.
When Wally and the Snapper were little, I read a lot of Dr. Seuss to them. Being the good mother that I am, I frequently subverted the text.
Take, The Cat in the Hat. At the end of the book, the narrator says something like this: “Then our mother came home and she said to us two, did you have fun? Well what did you do? And my sister and I did not know what to say. Should we tell her the things that went on here today? Should we tell her about it? What should we do? Well, what would you do if your mother asked you?”
Here I would pause to look maternally into their rapt eyes and I would say, “Well, of course you tell the mom. You tell the mom everything, right?” And they would nod faithfully. Sometimes I think the Snapper took that lesson too completely to heart because there are times I have to stop his narration of an event and say, “I really don’t need to know everything.”
The Cat in the Hat , despite my twisted deconstruction of it, is essentially a story about kid anarchy. About kids getting away with it, which they need to do, unless it involves drinking and my car. But wreaking havoc in the house with Thing One and Thing Two—these are things kids need to do and get away with, especially if they learn how to tape up the cracks in the window, which Wally and the Snapper did.
Theodore Geisel snuck a lot of lessons into his books—not the kinds of lessons that turn a book into a Calvinistic primer—but the kind that he knew all kids intuitively understood, even if they forgot them when they got older. Like this one, from Red Fish, Blue Fish: “It is good to have fun—but you have to know how.”
Which, now that I think about it, goes hand-in-hand with the lesson at the end of Cat in the Hat. You have to know how to have fun—and when not to say anything about it.
Maybe it’s a good thing the boys have stopped reading Seuss, after all.