Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Good Night Moon Doesn't Suck

po·et·ry [poh-i-tree]
1.  the art of rhythmical composition, written or spoken, for exciting pleasure by beautiful, imaginative, or elevated thoughts.

When my first born son, Peyton, was a baby, we read to him a lot.  My husband and I both would sit in the room with him before bed and take turns reading to him.  No wonder he just might be our smartest kid.  

We started with board books and moved on to full-size children's picture books.  We did silly voices and made funny faces while we read.  Dr. Seuss never disappointed, they were so FUN to read.

I never understood why everyone was so in love with the book Goodnight Moon.  It was BORING.  I tried to read it in a Scottish accent to shake it up.  Didn't work.  I tried a saucy Spanish accent.  Didn't work.  I tried rapping it.  Yup, not proud, but I was desperate to make it better.  Didn't work either.

But now, 10 years later, guess what...I can't wait to sit down at the end of the night and read the oh-so-boring Good Night Moon to my 2-year-old baby of the family.  

You see, life gets louder, more cluttered and down right crazier as kids get older.  There are gadgets and toys that have sirens and laser-like sounds.  The books have buttons that make sounds.  The alphabet sings from a magnet on the fridge.  Elmo is giggling or singing the Chicken Dance song.  Buzz lightyear is trying to get to "infinity and beyond."  

As the older ones get a little older, they just get louder themselves....demanding to be heard. "MoooooM, did you hear me?! He took my stuff and I want it back now!" or "MoooooooM! she hit me!"   

Or they tune you, and anyone else they don't want to listen to, out by turning up the Wii game, putting on headphones with their ipod shuffle (much to the chagrin of my older children we still have not purchased either of them an ipod touch) or yes, slamming the door, loudly.

Just like those sweet little Dr. Seuss books I read to Peyton all those years ago, my house and my life are full of too much "noise, noise, noise." It's like god damn Whoville without the happy Christmas vibe.

That doesn't even begin to touch on all the distractions as they get older with homework, activities, sports, friend fun and friend drama.  And all the computer/phone/social media issues that I am terrified of dealing with (not quite there yet, because we also refuse to get any of our kids cell phones, but you better believe some of their friends in 4th and 2nd grade have them already).

On an old episode of Thirtysomething, Nancy says "Good Night Moon, it's poetry really."  Elliot wasn't listening to her but I was.  You see Nancy was no Hope on that show, but she really knew a thing or two about children's literature.  If you aren't a Thirtysomething lover (first of all what's wrong with you?), just trust me, Nancy knows.

She was right.  The book is slow, simple, sweet and quiet.   It is a bit of a meditation.  Look around your room and be aware.  Say good night to everything in your room little one and appreciate all of it.  Remember it.  Feel safe.  Feel loved.  And give that love back.

With all the noise and clutter of our lives with kids, Good Night Moon reminds me to slow down, pay attention.  Look around my house and appreciate all of it.  Remember it.  Feel loved.  And give that love back.

It is also a reminder that the older kids need to unplug, focus and quiet their minds too.  And there are some really cool moments, poetic moments with the big kids too--it's not all slamming doors and yelling out demands.  

Now they can read a book on their own and tell you what they think.  And there's the whole awesomeness of going on trips and museums and rediscovering the world with and through them.  Without worrying about whether they will jump into the dinosaur exhibit or throw their spit-covered pacifier at the famous painting.

Over the holiday break, my dad and I took the kids to the history museum. 

Only five thousand other families had the same brilliant idea.  It was crowded and loud and distracting. But there were still poetic and memorable moments, and we paid attention.

Like when they couldn't stop giggling at the bare bottoms on the statues.  But they were also so interested in other things and asked questions.  And we took the time to answer most of them.

Lucy was mesmerized by the gems on display.  Part of the gem exhibit was Madeline Albright's pin collection.  

A particular pin caught Lucy's eyes (I swear I didn't force this that's what makes it a bit magical), it was the "Glass Ceiling Pin" alongside a picture of Albright with Hillary Clinton.  Lucy, in her sweetest Linus-like voice, read the description about Albright being the first woman Secretary of State and shattering the glass ceiling.  "What' a glass ceiling?" she asked.  

I started to explain.  Another older woman also started to explain the history. An older man added, "Isn't it great when they can read!"

It was poetry.  I looked around that room full of strangers, two that were talking to my 7-year-old daughter about history and the world, and appreciated everything in it.  I remembered it.  Felt love and wanted to give it back.

Living with intention and poetry.  Slowing down.  Taking stock.  
I bow down to you Margaret Wise Brown.  Well done.  And thank you.

1 comment:

  1. This literally brought tears to my eyes. I needed to reminder to "slow down." Thank you. And good night. ;)