I’m a little ashamed of my monthlong silence–I can’t believe the date on my last post! April and I were looking out the window this morning and talking about the rainy day ahead, and she asked if she could watch Cinderella. As soon as she asked I was really tempted to turn on the tube, leave her with some apple slices and slink into my living room with the laptop and blog… I had even started writing a blog in my head about ‘great movies for kids’ when… I suddenly felt guilty, like a bad parent.
One of the hardest things about parenting, I think, is knowing that a little one is watching the choices you make for them, and for yourself. April’s only three, but I think she’s aware that throwing a flick on first thing in the morning is the perfect start to a lazy day. “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives,” wrote the brilliant Annie Dillard, and I completely agree. That’s not to say that I don’t waste an ounce of time–I think we all do–but having kids in your life either a) encourages you to make every minute count or b) makes you conscious of the unproductive minutes. I’m not always as perky as I appear online; there have been moments when I’ve resented my motherhood and wished I could just stuff earplugs in my ears and take a nap myself instead of trying to get April to go down.
This morning I was tempted to let the television entertain my daughter–it looked dreary outside, and rainy weather makes me want to curl up under a blanket and veg, not the most constructive way to spend time, I know.
Instead, I suggested reading a book together. I was half-expecting April to throw a tantrum, or at least whine a little bit, but to my surprise she enthusiastically agreed. We spent almost an hour reading The Cat in the Hat, Mortimer Be Quiet, and Nora and the Great Bear; all three books are entertaining and perfect for a rainy day. When she finally did go down for a nap, I felt a lot less guilty about entering some social media contests…
Here are some more of our favourite books instead of movies:
The Lorax by Dr. Suess
Dr. Suess’ story is about a greedy man (obsessed with production planning but not inventory management) sucking all the resources out of an area of land to make a versatile but ultimately useless product called a ‘Thneed’. It’s not the happiest story in the world, but it’s realistic. There’s no fairytale ending, instead the protagonist (and the reader!) get a very practical lesson: unless we work the hardest we can to ensure that what we hold dear is protected, things we take for granted (like the Truffula trees) will be lost.
I should confess that April actually wants a Thneed at the moment, but she’ll come around.
Corduroy by Don Freeman
One of my favourites as a child, Corduroy is an adorable story about a bear in a department store who worries that no one will ever want to take him home because he’s missing a button on his suspenders. I read a story on the Toronto Star website today that made me cry about a gay Ottawa teen committed suicide due to teasing from his peers. In my opinion, the parents of these bullies are to blame for the ignorant and hateful attacks borne by this boy. This book teaches that, even though the bear is missing something that would make him ‘perfect’ he has a beautiful spirit underneath and that is recognized by the girl who falls in love with him when she sees him on the shelf.
The Rag Coat by Lauren Mills
I haven’t read this one to April yet but I read it to Sam-anyway, this is a very profound book for children and adults! Again, issues of bullying are addressed along with poverty, independence and…the death of a parent. Main character Minna comes from a poor family (her father is an East Coast miner, not a Toronto mortgage broker) and, more than anything in the world, hopes for a coat for the coming winter. After her father dies of a mining sickness, Minna’s mother and ‘the quilting mothers’ band together to make a coat for Minna–using the old rags of many of her classmates at school.
Simultaneously heartbreaking and heartwarming, this is a wholesome yet realistic story that teaches empathy.
The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
A powerful story about a boy and his toy and the power of love, no less real at any age.
I’ll try to get posting at a more regular rate… and I have a feeling the next posts will be more about food for the stomach rather than food for the mind