Tuesday, November 06, 2007

I was a Dr Seuss self-starter

Last night I read ‘Green Eggs and Ham’ to Tom for the first time. I don’t know who enjoyed it more… well I do actually. I don’t come from a Dr. Seuss kind of family and never experienced the Cat in the Hat, the Grinch or Sam-I-Am until my own adulthood when I fell in love with the well-crafted rhyming nonsense. I have a few of the books kicking about the place and have been a bit slow in introducing them to Tom. Last night we rectified that.

My, did I (green) ham it up. While I write this I have a growing sense that last night may not be the first time I have read this story out loud. Vague recollections of ranting about foxes and boxes to myself are surfacing as a timely reminder that three years of working from home is quite enough and a gradual reintegration into society is somewhat overdue.

Tom was enthralled. The presence of cars, trains and boats in the story can only have helped but there’s no doubt that the slightly manic enthusiasm shown by daddy sucked the audience in. Heck, Nik even wandered in to see what all this loudness was all about.

‘You do NOT like what anywhere?’

As parents we stack up our series of personal hopes and expectations for our offspring – often partially concealed behind the genial catch-all of ‘wanting him to be happy’. Nik always said she wanted a boy who was ‘just a little bit naughty’. I plan to share that one with the little guy at some point – probably just after he’s been despatched to the naughty step.

Slight tangent – but on topic – a ‘mummy and Tom’ day last week led to Tom learning the very useful and oft-repeated ‘I’m driving you crackers, I’m driving you crackers’. Piece together the events that led to that little gem if you will.

At risk of showing myself up as the geeky half of the relationship, I always placed ‘Sharing my love of books’ near the top of my list. Nik counselled me about ‘overdoing it’, reminding me of her own near-allergic response to museums, galleries and classical music and I tempered the urge to buy a set of Penguin Classics for Tom’s first Christmas.

So we mix up the daily routine with the wonder that is Pixar, charging around the garden, and cars. We let play wander wherever the whim takes us and fill our days with castles and towers and tunnels and garages. We take to pretend stages and sing the same line of songs over and over. Days vary and take imaginative leaps this way and that but they all end the same way. Me or Nik with Tom and a book. After the story is read and the songs are sung, the book is tucked down by the mattress and the lights go out.

In the morning we sometimes find the book crumpled and thumbed somewhere in bed – Hairy Maclary often has this fate. One night, checking on Tom, we found him asleep on his back with the book folded open across his chest in a pose curiously reminiscent of his grandfathers.
This morning was best though. This morning I opened Tom’s bedroom door to find him poring over ‘Green Eggs and Ham’ by torchlight. Even though light spilled in from the hallway he wasn’t about to interrupt his reading by paying his dad any attention.

I think we have a Dr Seuss fan.


John said...

Lovely. My favourite was Fox and Socks (or whatever it was actually called). Probably a bit old for Tom just yet - but it has some lovely complicated sound sequences which really test the parent. And of course the child loves it if Daddy gets it wrong. Good luck and happy reading.

Jennifer said...

I LOVED Green Eggs and Ham...there's actually a cookbook out on Amazon.com, and I have it :) Dr. Suess is the BEST! :)

Anonymous said...

I can't wait for the day when Ethan has the patience to sit and listen to a story. It seems sort of far off at the moment though.

I love this image of Tom sleeping with an open book on his chest. Darling. His hair is getting so long!

Inga said...

Hi Jason,

Had to write, Green Eggs and Ham was Jamie's all time favourite book as a child. He disliked reading and indeed anything that didn't involve football or computer games! However he used to pretend to "read" and "read" Green Eggs and Ham reciting it over and over again! Am sure he could still repeat it now if you asked! Maybe it's a distant genetic love of the book!