When L. was about 6 months old I came home from work and found Scott on our bed, with L. clambering around him. Scott was reading Hop on Pop to L. and L. was, quite literally, hopping on Pop. We read a lot of Dr. Seuss books to L. His favorite was this one. When we'd get to the page about the "VUG under the RUG" L. would exclaim, "VUUUUUUUUUUG!" and look from the picture to me in great concern. What was this 'VUG' thing? Did it live under OUR rug?
For a solid year now T. has liked How the Grinch Stole Christmas and when she was very little, and we'd put her hair in ponytails sticking straight up off her head, people used to exclaim over her tiny size and call her Cindy Lou Who. The Dr. Seuss books were never my all-time favorites as far as children's books go. I appreciate the rhymes and the crazy, fantastical illustrations. I like the colorful chaos of the Dr. Seussian worlds, but I always enjoyed reading other books to my kids when they were very young--the Sandra Boynton ones, for instance. Poor T, the second child, got very little exposure to the world of Dr. Seuss until she was older--three years old, to be exact. The first Dr. Seuss book I read her was Oh, the Places You'll Go! because I have a copy myself--a college graduation gift from a very dear old friend of mine, who I haven't seen in years. I'm not sure it was the best book to start with, because some of the illustrations (those howling Hakken-Kraks are pretty intimidating) scared her and it was a year, I think, before we returned to that one.
On Tuesday morning, though, T. came into the kitchen with my copy of Oh, the Places You'll Go!
"What are you reading?" Scott asked.
She held up the book for him. "It's Mama's favorite book," she said. Had I told her that? I must have, because it's true. I love it, both for its wisdom and because of the person who gave it to me.Then she spread it open on the ktichen table in front of her and began to read out loud, in her cheery voice, pausing only to turn the pages. I listened, and wondered if L. would let me read it to him sometime, if he might find some insight in Dr. Seuss's ways of looking at life's ups and downs: the Bang-ups and Hang-ups that happen to us all, the call to keep going, no matter what; to persevere, to face up to your problems, no matter whatever they are.
When T. was done she closed it, and sighed a little in satisfaction.
"I'm glad Dr. Seuss was born," she said. "He really knows how to write."
Happy birthday, Dr. Seuss, and thank you for your books.